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Wellcome Sanger Institute embarks on cost-saving energy efficiency drive at Cambridge datacentre

The Wellcome Sanger Institute has enlisted the help of long-standing tech partner EfficiencyIT to oversee a revamp of its datacentres’ energy monitoring and management systems

The Wellcome Sanger Institute (WSI) is revamping how it monitors and manages the energy consumption habits of its genomic research-housing datacentres, in pursuit of cost-savings that can be reinvested to fund the other life sciences work it does.  

The WSI campus in Cambridge is home to Europe’s largest genomic datacentre estate, and the server farms it contains play a vital role in supporting the firm in advancing the scientific community’s understanding of how DNA affects our health and well-being.

According to the WSI’s own data, its datacentres have a collective storage capacity of 64PB of data, as well as 38,000 processing cores, and the amount of data generated by the analytics work carried out there increases by around 5PB every year.

With the amount of data its facilities are storing and processing increasing year-on-year, the WSI is keen to ensure the energy consumption of its datacentres does not rise in line with it, so the organisation has embarked on a revamp of its energy monitoring and managing processes.

This includes the deployment of more than 300 custom-designed APC by Schneider Electric Rack Power Distribution Units (PDU), which are designed to help datacentre operators remotely monitor and manage the energy consumption of their server racks with greater ease.

“The research we undertake is sensitive, complex and imperative to life science progress,” said WSI datacentre manager Simon Binley.

“The datacentre plays a fundamental role in ensuring continuity for mission-critical applications, and by optimising its performance we can reduce costs and become more sustainable, while identifying energy savings that will create more funding for life-saving science.”

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The upgrade work will be overseen by datacentre consultancy EfficiencyIT, who claims the project will provide the WSI with greater insight and visibility into the power usage habits of the site, while enabling its datacentre managers to take steps to curb the amount of energy it consumes.

In turn, it is hoped that driving down the site’s energy usage will generate cost-savings that can be re-invested to further support and accelerate the genomic research WSI does on its own, and in collaboration with various other research teams across the UK.

This is not the first datacentre-focused project EfficiencyIT has embarked upon with WSI, as the firm has previously assisted the Institute with expanding the processing capabilities of its existing datacentre through the creation of a 400 rack-containing fourth datacentre hall.

“Our focus has always been to consult, advise and support the Institute in achieving its digital transformation objectives,” said EfficiencyIT managing director Nick Ewing.

“This second phase will see the deployment of new custom-designed APC power systems, enabling the Wellcome Sanger Institute to identify stranded capacity, improve energy usage and lower its carbon footprint; all while ensuring uptime, data security and protecting the organisations on site.”

Infrastructure management platform

The deployment of the PDU units have also been paired with the roll-out of Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure IT datacentre infrastructure management (DCIM) platform, which makes use of artificial intelligence and data analytics to give operators more visibility into how their facilities are performing.

Marc Garner, vice-president of Schneider Electric’s UK and Ireland Secure Power Division, said the company was pleased that its technology is assisting the WSI in its work, and EfficiencyIT’s efforts to improve the power consumption habits of the Institute’s datacentres.

“Datacentre and engineering professionals continue to play a crucial role in providing mission-critical digital infrastructure that underpins businesses on a global scale,” he said.

“We’re proud to be working with our partners at EfficiencyIT to support such an incredible organisation who has, and continues to be, instrumental in protecting the world against mankind’s most destructive diseases.”

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