Data center power and cooling strategies that insure IFFCO TOKIO

Knowing exactly what you want makes things smoother on data center power and cooling fronts. That's the lesson from insurance company IFFCO TOKIO's setup.

Power and cooling are like Oxygen for a data center. This is all the more so in these times of power shortages, since CIOs and IT managers try everything possible to make more efficient usage of power and cooling in their data centers. The case was no different for IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance (ITGI), one of the leading insurance companies in India. Established in 2000, ITGI offers an extensive range of customized policies, which serve customers from farmers to automobile manufacturers. Currently, ITGI has a pan-Indian presence with 51 strategic business units and 110 offices across the country.

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ITGI's data center is located in its corporate office at Gurgaon. Nothing new has been added to the existing power and cooling infrastructure since the inception of its operations around eight years ago, but now things are definitely in the change mode. "We have not done anything out of the world for ourdata center power and cooling. Since we knew exactly what we wanted, we implemented things accordingly," says U C Dubey, the executive vice president of IT for ITGI.

The ITGI data center has 65 servers, mostly running on IBM iSeries hardware. Major applications run on an AS/400 platform. Apart from that, the company uses Unix, Linux and Windows platforms for various applications. ITGI's main applications are a core insurance application; CSC (Computer Science Corporation) Policy Asia, which is a policy administration system; Siebel CRM; POS; Lotus Domino Power Messaging; and Cognos for BI. Apart from these, there are several smaller Java applications.

On the data center's power supply front, ITGI has multiple power sources. First is the main power from the grid coming to ITGI's premises. From this, the company has taken two different lines to the data center; there are two UPSs from which power is taken to the data center through a bridge. If something goes wrong with one UPS, the other can take over at any point of time. The organization uses UPS units from Emerson.

N+1 redundancy is being used for the UPS systems. In addition, there is battery backup for the main line. ITGI uses precision cooling to cool the data center premises (also from Emerson). There are 2.75 ton precision air-conditioning systems, which cater to the data center's power requirement of around 700 units per day. Each server in the data center gets its power supply from both the UPSs through an automatic transfer switch.

Next: server virtualization

According to Dubey, ITGI has also had its fair share of problems, which has led the team to implement protective measures in the data center power supply area. To begin with, ITGI has started keeping track of the data center's power usage for the past few months. This includes keeping proper records of how much power is being utilized by the servers and other computer systems.

ITGI had earlier faced a problem with the capacity of its UPS. There was only one UPS, therefore it added another UPS. Earlier, the capacity was 20 KVA, which has now been increased to 40 KVA each. This came about as a result of the realization that when one UPS is down, the other cannot take the extra load.

ITGI gets IBM to conduct audits of its data center power and cooling setups. One of the suggestions made by IBM was to have no gap at all between two racks. Previously, there was a gap between the racks, which used to result in higher data center power consumption levels.

Dubey plans to implement server virtualization as one of the next power saving measures for the data center. "We are in the process of calculating the power consumed by our servers," says Dubey. ITGI already uses the AS/400 platform's in-built server virtualization feature. However, ITGI will now look at implementing server virtualization on its Windows servers.

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