Belgium now boasts its first TIER IV data center. Antwerp Datacenter, one of Datacenter United's locations, expanded with a new data center on the floor above the existing data center. The new DC was officially certified as TIER IV by the UPTIME institute in February of this year. This achievement is significant, and it's a real boost for the customers. To achieve this certification, the emergency power supply designed and supplied by Elinex had to be included in the certification process. Niid Brouwers, project leader at Elinex, Tom Faber, account manager at Elinex, Jo Van Den Langenbergh, operational director at Datacenter United, and Friso Haringsma, managing director at Datacenter United, share their pride in this unique data center for Belgium.
Performing Maintenance while Maintaining All Redundancies
In response to the question of explaining what TIER IV precisely means, Jo states: "This means that at our new DC, maintenance can be performed while maintaining all redundancies. Thus, TIER IV is one of the highest levels of facilities that a data center can have. To be certified, the emergency power supply must, of course, be designed to preserve redundancy during maintenance." The first discussions with Elinex about this began in 2018. Tom elaborates: "In 2021, a final agreement was reached for the design of the emergency power supply, and we were able to start immediately. The design involves a DC with 1.6 MW of high-voltage capacity, with an initial build of 500 kW for future expansion. The entire system can be easily expanded to the planned maximum load."
Niid describes the delivery: "At Antwerp DC, there is one 500 kW frame with space for an additional frame. The frame incorporates ten power modules, each at 50 kW. Everything is modular and scalable. The emergency power comes from VRLA batteries. We are talking about a High Efficiency UPS from Huawei. We also supplied the switchgear, which includes synchronization boards and main distribution, all installed in 19-inch racks (Huawei), arranged in a corridor configuration with roof panels and sliding doors. Antwerp DC handled the installation themselves." Jo continues: "The switchgear also includes the complete control panel for the emergency power generator (NSA), including motor-driven transfer switches and distribution boards."
Collaboration since 2012
Tom: "From Elinex's perspective, the delivery doesn't differ much compared to a non-TIER IV data center. However, in the design phase, we focused on the requirements for achieving TIER IV certification. We've been working with Datacenter United since 2012 when it initially had three locations. After the acquisition of DC Star, it now has six locations. The new room on the second floor of Antwerp DC is the latest addition."
Single Fault Tolerance
To illustrate how stringent the requirements are to achieve TIER IV certification, Jo explains, "It's not just about the data but also about the building itself. Single Fault Tolerance applies to everything, including the Building Management System (BMS). Every fault needs to be detected, even if it's a problem with the climate control system, for example. We have double redundancy for everything. In other words, one cooling system or one UPS can fail, and everything will continue to operate. That's why we have two NSA units."
A piece of history
Friso is one of the founders of Datacenter United. He shares, "In 2009, we started making plans for our own data center for our IT company. Construction began in 2010. By looking at the design and services from our own needs, we quickly identified areas where we could improve compared to existing service providers. The decision to start in Belgium was driven purely by our needs and market contacts at the time. We saw an opportunity in the Belgian data center landscape, despite the ongoing economic crisis. The reason we established data centers at multiple locations was that remote management in those days didn't offer the same capabilities as it does today. We wanted our system administrators to be close to the data centers. Nowadays, you'd call such geographical distribution of data centers 'Edge,' but back then, it was just practical."
TIER IV important for specific sectors
We inquire about the significance of a TIER IV data center for specific sectors. Friso responds, "For the majority of customers, TIER III is sufficient. However, for heavy e-commerce companies, government entities, pharmaceutical companies, and those dealing with sensitive data, TIER IV is almost a necessity. Our customers for the new data center are primarily from these sectors. We appreciate Elinex's efforts, which seamlessly align with the requirements and expectations we had for Antwerp DC. Besides their expertise, which was highly valuable in this project, they hold special value because they are 'independent,' just like us. Elinex works 'brand-independent' and always has a suitable solution ready for any of our data centers. We have maintenance contracts with them, including annual inspections, and in case of issues, Elinex maintains a response time of 4 hours. This benefits not only Datacenter United but, most importantly, our customers."
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Tekst: Draeckensteijn Media