Running smoothly - data center commissioning done right
Successful data center commissioning (Cx) ensures that the data center works like it is designed to – without downtime and with reasonable redundance. To achieve this, no corners can be cut in the commissioning process.
In the world of data centers, technical systems such as constant cooling capacity and electrical power are directly critical to business. As essential it is to commission any facility correctly, commissioning takes on a whole new significance in data centers.
A small undetected equipment malfunction could lead to expensive downtime and damage the operator’s reputation. In turn, correct commissioning prevents revenue and credibility costing downtime as well as makes the data center provider’s job easier and more cost-effective in the years to come.
The commissioning team led by Cx Manager Juuso Saari is currently hard at work testing and making sure the most powerful supercomputer in Europe, LUMI (Large Unified Modern Infrastructure), has the optimal facilities to run. Operated by CSC, the supercomputer is situated in Kajaani, northeastern Finland, in a former paper mill turned data center.
“Commissioning is about quality assurance. We make sure every crucial technical system – be it ventilation, cooling systems, heat pumps, generators, electrical distribution systems, building automation – works the way it was designed and that all the systems work seamlessly together under any circumstances”, says Granlund’s Juuso Saari.
5 rules for a successful Cx
The commissioning process starts early in the design stage of the data center. “We make a very detailed commissioning plan and quality check it together with the data center provider. Mapping out the schedule and communicating to all parties what is expected of them before and during commissioning are also essential in the early stages of commissioning”, says Juuso Saari.
The commissioning team plays a huge role so selecting the Cx service provider is an important task. Besides vast technical knowledge and experience in data centers, the team needs to have a holistic view on the mechanisms and stakeholders of a data center. Coordinating the process with the data center provider, contractors and system suppliers requires excellent communication and organizing skills.
One of the key phases in commissioning is identifying and testing possible failure modes and scenarios. Through meticulous testing the potential problems are detected and solved early on. “When problems are found in the testing phase, they are a lot faster and cheaper to resolve than later on”, describes Otto Linna, the Cx team’s Mechanical Engineer and HVAC specialist. “Small problems can turn into big and costly problems if they are left undetected”.
Good commissioning from planning, executing commissioning programs, conducting factory acceptance tests, testing on site, verifying results to documenting and reporting takes some time, but it is an investment that pays for itself. Furthermore, during the commissioning process, the data center operators get to know the systems and how they work. This makes it easier to run the data center in the future. Systematic documentation and reporting ensure that relevant data is accurate and accessible during and after the commissioning phase.
The commissioning calls for close co-operation among commissioning team, data center provider, contractors, and systems suppliers. Information needs to move quickly and accurately between stakeholders. ”Commissioning is also a great opportunity to share expertise and combine different points of view. We are constantly learning from each other”, mentions Otto Linna.
Get to know LUMI supercomputer
Located in the data center of CSC-IT Center for Science Ltd in Kajaani, the LUMI supercomputer has the computing power of 1.5 million state-of-the-art laptops. LUMI is owned by the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU). The organisation responsible for operating the supercomputer is the LUMI consortium. The consortium countries include Finland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Iceland and Switzerland.