Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (OVGU) focuses on engineering and natural sciences, medicine as well as economics, social sciences, and humanities. The university's demand is to constantly enhance the state of education and science through teaching and education. Such a task and the generated data volume require a functioning and highly available IT infrastructure.
For a long time already, OVGU has had two data center locations on the campus. The IT landscape is redundant across both locations. The implementation of a new data center resulted from the OVGU's decision to comprehensively renew one of the data center locations and from the approval of the OVGU's new high-performance computer that could not have been operated at either the remaining location or the transitional OVGU site. Thus, an alternative solution in form of a compact modular data center was chosen, describes Dr. Gregor Zimmermann (IT Manager, OVGU) the initial situation.
"The OVGU data center is our institution's data core. All research and administrative data is located here. A loss or even a fall out would be fatal. Therefore, we operate two data center locations. The new, modular data center does not completely follow the ordinary rules due to the current use for the high-performance computer as this requires no redundancy and even failure is not critical. As this is certainly about to change during the future use, we already decided to schedule required redundancies in the operating technologies", reports Dr. Zimmermann.
With the decision in 2020 to comprehensively renew one of OVGU's data center locations, it was foreseeable that none of the locations would be suitable for the expansion by the new high-performance computer. Therefore, Dr. Zimmermann's team started considering a modular data center in the summer of 2020. At that time there was no determination with whom the project would be carried out. The necessary planning preparations were carried out internally at OVGU. "As a part of the preparations we checked a number of references and execution options", reports Zimmermann. That's how the Data Center Group (DCG) came to their attention.
The requirements had already been determined: The high-performance computer with a demand for 10 cabinets of 20 kW each formed the fixed project framework. The required redundancies for the operating technology were also predetermined. A particular planning challenge was the dimensioning of the power supply: A modular data center with a network performance of 200 kW was to be implemented. It was important to the OVGU team to obtain a modular, redundant UPS system that would initially be expanded with only 50 kW of power since only the management servers and storage systems needed to be protected for the high-performance computer. "For subsequent use, expansion to 150 kW is planned", emphasizes Dr. Zimmermann. The cooling supply should - according to - initially not be designed redundantly, but later be able to be converted to redundancy.
"The new data center houses OVGU's new high-performance computer (HPC). This is used by all faculties for simulation calculations. Results are only stored here during the calculations. As soon as a calculation is completed, the data is moved to the OVGU's main data center", Dr. Zimmermann underlines.
A significant project challenge was to manage the synchronization of the HPC project and the disassembly of the old site. The new location for the HPC had to be realized by the end of November 2021. Therefore, the modular data center project was scheduled for completion in the second half of September. The time reserves were planned precisely so that the HPC team was able to set up the new system in the module data center on time.
At present, the modular data center has been under full load since the commissioning of the high-performance computer in December 2021. The occupation of the cabinets is between 60 and 70 %, and the power output is up to 190 kW at full load of the high-performance computer. The project was completed in November 2021, so it took only 6 months from commissioning to completion. The solution is planned for a special project as an interim solution – i. e. with a deployment period of at least 10 years.
Dr. Gregor Zimmermann: "The implementation of the entire project with DCG was very stringent. After the initial discussions on the project implementation and a few adjustments, all steps were carried out according to plan. During the implementation we always had a contact person of DCG at our side and we were always informed about the project status. We would do the same again at any time."
Facts and figures
• External dimension: 10x7 m; 3.25 m high
• Space for 12 HPC racks
• 8 side coolers for air-conditioning
• Separated technical area in the container data center
• 220 kW cold water generator designed for peak-load cooling