Data centers launch a new generation of power

  • Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 11:57 am

Kami Bush, IT Systems administrator, stands among servers in Y-12’s data center
Kami Bush, IT Systems administrator, stands among servers in Y-12’s data center.

If you think of our systems, applications, or network as living and breathing beings, the data center is the brain that essentially regulates every function. As a centralized facility tasked with housing and maintaining multiple server racks that store, process, and backup our electronic information, our data centers are vital to daily operations at Pantex and Y-12.

The Pantex and Y-12 Data Center Consolidation and Modernization projects are progressively coming to fruition, enhancing the monitoring, power reliability, and cooling infrastructure of our IT systems at both sites. At Y-12, Information Solutions and Services continues to decommission legacy hardware and move it into its new home. Meanwhile, the Power Upgrade Project at the Pantex data center continues to implement additional levels of redundancy and alternate power sources.

“Our teams support more than 650 network devices and 4,000 servers at Pantex and Y-12; thus, having a solid infrastructure at each site that hosts and backs up these systems brings us a step closer to meeting a modern industry standard. This is a major accomplishment,” said Joe Harris, Consolidated Nuclear Security’s chief information officer.

With modernization as a primary focus, once complete, both sites will have fully upgraded to 10 gigabytes worth of internet capacity due to the centers’ bandwidth. As a significant boost to our sites’ internet capacity, this will improve our virtual video and audio quality, while decreasing the time to connect to the internet or perform enterprise backups between the sites.

“Teams from across IS&S, Cybersecurity, Construction, and Power Operations have all contributed to the centers’ current and future success for our mission,” said Harris. “This is a triple play with power enhancements, modernization of our cooling of equipment, and increased capacity and resilience in our network connections. We look forward to how this advancement in our infrastructure will continue to grow to serve our people and technology.”

Inside of each data center are multiple racks of servers that store information. As you can imagine, stacks of electrical equipment can overheat if not managed carefully; therefore, in preventing any deficiencies, both centers will have a cool air containment design from the floor of each server room. Currently installed at Y-12, the design separates the cold airflow from the exhaust of the hot and active electrical equipment and ultimately creates a consistent stream of cold airflow throughout the centers that prevents equipment from overheating and shutting down.

“IT equipment creates a lot of heat, which has to be cooled to maintain the equipment’s required temperatures,” said Matt Beattie, who manages both Pantex’s and Y-12’s data centers. “By using an air containment design, we’re able to evenly manage the centers’ temperatures, protect our equipment from overheating, and install more IT equipment in each server rack to make efficient use of our space.”

Adding to the efficiency of the project, the data centers will also be accompanied by a Data Center Infrastructure Management tool, or DCIM. The tool will provide IS&S with a 3-D view of each data center and enable operators to monitor and manage the centers’ equipment, systems, space, power, cooling, and even alert systems administrators of any operational problems after hours.

“From breaking ground to now, both data centers have been nothing short of a collective effort, but we’re not finished yet,” Harris said. “We still have more to do as we continue to move capabilities while maintaining services so as not to impact the site mission and site deliverables.”