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Server Choice Welwyn Garden City “SC-2” Data Centre

The Project Brief

ServerChoice already ran an existing Tier 2+ standard data centre, SC-1, at a site elsewhere in Hertfordshire and wanted to build a new data centre to meet demand for their growing services.  The new SC-2 data centre was to go beyond this and be truly world-class, by being built to Uptime Institutes Tier 4 standards.  These types of facilities incorporate higher levels of resilience in critical power, cooling and data systems and are more complex and expensive to build.

In addition to wanting a design that could be certified as a Tier 4 data centre, ServerChoice also targeted an energy efficiency of 1.2 PUE (power usage effectiveness) at full load.  This would give ServerChoice the ability to offer clients the highest resilience level whilst making SC-2 one of the most energy-efficient data centres in the UK.

To meet these challenges, ServerChoice had to find a data centre infrastructure company who could design, innovate and deliver the project on-time and to budget.  Following a market review, ServerChoice appointed the Thames gate as their main contractor.

Thames gate worked with Mark Boost, Server Choice’s Managing Director, to complete a full design appraisal before committing to a final proposal for the new building. The project included a number of innovative solutions to problems presented by the existing building infrastructure, and how to accommodate the PUE and future expansion targets.


Project Process

To provide resilience for the electrical and IT infrastructure, dual AC supplies and an N+1 redundant architecture were adopted for all critical services.  New LV switchgear was installed, fed from the existing sub-station incomer but with the facility to run from a second sub-station incomer at a later date.

A 550kVA Elcos generator was installed upstream of two high-efficiency 200kVA Riello Master Plus UPS systems to provide resilient power.  The Riello UPS modules were connected in an N+1 parallel-redundant configuration, sharing the load through decentralised control. If one UPS failed or was taken out of circuit for maintenance, the other UPS would automatically power the load.

The new LV Switchgear was designed to accommodate future generator expansion through a bolt-on panel. The switchgear included A and B sections with internal Bus Bars connected via a Bus Coupler. This allowed the switchgear to provide dual power feeds (A and B) to the UPS systems and cooling system.

Maintenance and electrical testing facilities were also designed into the switchgear, allowing each section to be switched out of service without disruption to the load.

In addition to the UPS and generators, Thamesgate were also responsible for the design and installation of energy-efficient lighting, complete with presence detection, the fire protection system (employing VESDA early-warning air sampling and FM200 gas suppression system) and a Hellermann Tyton Cat 6 and Fibre cabling infrastructure.

The project was completed to time and budget with Mark Boost commenting:



“I am extremely happy with the work Thamesgate provided.  They proved themselves to be knowledgeable, professional, and didn’t sell us anything we didn’t need.  They worked hard and made honest recommendations; always looking to save us money.  ServerChoice already have plans for the next phase of the data centre expansion, and we look forward to working with Thamesgate again soon.”

Mr. J. Jones. Director. Server Choice