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IoT in the data centre

There is no question about the current buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT), which are connected appliances that deliver anything from user convenience to enhanced digital capabilities. However, what is the relevance of IoT in a modern data centre? Evidently, there are plenty of ways that it can be deployed there.

Before we look at how the recently launched Telin-3 data centre leverages IoT to offer innovative security and reliability, let us first take a closer look at some of the challenges inherent to a modern data centre facility.

 

Building a modern data centre

The first data centres arose from the need to deliver reliable cooling and power to rooms full of expensive servers. In many cases, these facilities are secured from unauthorized personnel to ensure that physical access cannot be abused to compromise servers and the valuable digital treasure troves they hold.

Of course, requirements have evolved substantially since the early days of client-server or 3-tier computing architectures. While the occasional downtime for maintenance or unscheduled outages are often tolerable, the present digital-centric nature of businesses means that even a brief downtime can have a massive impact on business operations.

For instance, a sudden systems shutdown can throw a ride-share platform into turmoil, leaving existing transactions in undefined states.  An online ticketing platform could also suffer from a catastrophic failure if an outage occurred during a peak period whereby small groups of rebooting servers are overwhelmed in detail by incoming requests and put out of commission.

Even traditional organizations could suffer as important emails end up undelivered, or CRM and ERP systems become inaccessible when they are most needed. While the extent of damage varies, the importance of uptime to businesses today has indisputably increased significantly.

 

Engineered for IoT

Specifically engineered with IoT in mind, Telin-3 is Telin Singapore’s newest data centre in the Western part of Singapore. Crucial components such as the MDU (Mains Distribution Unit), PDU (Power Distribution Unit), power meters and even UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), are wired to a dedicated internal network for the purpose of tracking power delivery systems.

On the cooling side, CRACs are similarly wired up – operational states and data points such as operating temperatures are monitored in real-time. Though a failure in cooling does not culminate in an immediate disruption, the ability to get ahead of any failures will ultimately serve to reduce the chances of an outage.

Elsewhere, fixtures such as the lighting are also connected to IoT controllers. Motion sensors track the location of everyone in the data centre, allowing for lights to unneeded areas to be switched off, thereby conserving energy and serving a greater environmental good. Depending on the time of the day, the lighting around common areas can be configured so that only 25% to 50% of them are lit.

Finally, the security system and the large network of cameras are also network-enabled. This allows access to be updated from a central console, and takes immediate effect through the entire facility. Triggered by motion sensors, intelligent IP cameras are also capable of counting the number of people across its field of vision.

In the event of an alarm or equipment failure, the operational manager is alerted to the nearest cameras in the proximity. This allows for swift access to real-time imagery for immediate action, if necessary. Likewise, data from the nearest smoke and heat sensors can be accessed for a prompt appraisal of the situation.

 

Preventive maintenance

A lesser known advantage of wiring up the entire data centre is how it facilitates inventory management. Operating a data centre is an ongoing process and having a comprehensive database makes it easy to identify equipment due to be replaced, or to track if a specific maintenance was done.

Indeed, every equipment in Telin-3 is monitored using software we created to ensure that no maintenance work is ever inadvertently overlooked. Deep software integration that began at the design stage of the data centre ensures that even disparate systems work as a cohesive whole. We call this integrated system the Telin Integrated Portal (TIP), and you can read more about its role in our operational excellence here.

Importantly, access to a rich dataset that goes back months and years simplifies the process of identifying anomalous readings. Moreover, predictive data analytics techniques can also be applied to identify problem areas and problematic hardware ahead of a failure. In sum, the use of IoT, an integrated system and the use of data ensures that Telin-3 would be able to provide a 100% quality service level agreement (SLA) for its clients.

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