Client Story: Region Nordjylland Hospital, Regional Healthcare System
CIO, Region Nordjylland
Photo Credit: Lars Horn, Baghuset
Upgrading the existing data center created risk that could potentially affect the safety and well-being of the region's almost 600,000 residents. In Denmark, the regional government has three main responsibilities: health care, regional development, and social services, and it relies on just two data centers to provide the necessary IT support. The doctors, nurses, and administrators who work in the hospital rely on IT to provide clinical and administrative support. The region’s citizens also depend on these data centers, not only for clinical support, but also because Region Nordjylland is responsible for several national systems, including 911 (emergency) ambulance calls. In total, the Regional Nordjylland Denmark data center houses more than 500 systems including 911 ambulance services, patient health-care records, decision support systems, and other critical systems supporting over 15,000 employees.
A Collaborative Effort to Meet The Tier IV Requirements
In order to reach their goals of Tier IV certification, Region Nordjylland started by referencing and applying Uptime Institute’s Tier Standard: Topology standards document. This provided a baseline for the team to identify and understand the requirements of achieving Tier IV certification.
Second, Region Nordjylland leveraged the expertise of its existing personnel. Employees of the Regional Nordjylland IT department and technical department at Aalborg University Hospital collaborated on the planning, design, and development of the data center, so that the data center was fully designed by Regional Nordjylland’s own employees, with experience operating and designing hospital facilities. Guided by their extensive mission critical operations expertise the team used simple, but effective, solutions designed for operability and maintainability.
Steffen Jacobsen, Technical Chief of the hospital, was very involved in the design and construction process. Jacobsen spent many years designing hospitals and offered his expertise to the IT department.
In pursuit of the Tier IV certification, Jacobsen and Sørensen took Uptime Institute’s Accredited Tier Designer (ATD) course. During the three day training course, Jacobsen observed that hospitals and data centers have a lot of similarities, "Running a data center is not that different from running a hospital. Hospitals must have reliable clean water, clean air, air conditioning, medical equipment, and scanners for the care of patients, but they also have generators, UPS, and cooling systems.”
The combination of Sørensen's data center management expertise and Jacobsen's technology background in hospital technical operations paid off, Sørensen credits Jacobsen with identifying 30 errors in the initial design.
Jacobsen has also been taking knowledge from the ATD course to the hospital. Sørensen noted, “Jacobsen is known for going through the hospital with the Uptime Institute ATD book in his hand.” As a result, Region Nordjylland is trying to use the Tier Standard on ‘patients near supplies’ such as oxygen and clean and sterile water.” In this way, the entire facility is adapting lessons learned from its data centers to the operation and design of its health-care facility and delivery.
The requirements to build to Tier IV concerned Region Nordjylland officials far more than the challenge of continuously serving the existing live loads. Despite the fact that all the data center infrastructure was replaced or upgraded during construction, except the servers and the racks, transitioning the live load was relatively easy because they had planned meticulously for the change. According to Michael Lundsgaard Sørensen, Region Nordjylland's Data Center Manager and Head of IT Operations, "We already had an A and a B side, and we had a 2N solution. Basically we borrowed an external generator and an external cooling system, so we built up the new A side and just made the switch and powered up the new one."
The design team's mantra: "Keep It Simple"
“We found that the most difficult thing about designing a Tier IV data center is to make something that’s very complicated, simple. The design team’s mantra was ‘Keep It Simple,’ which is why we don’t have computer controls such as a building management system (BMS) and programmable logic controllers (PLC).” Initially, the design team struggled to achieve this goal, as the first designs had several weaknesses that needed to be rectified.
Region Nordjylland’s use of industrial-type controls rather than a BMS and PLCs is one example of the simple, but effective approach. Maddison noted that the hospital’s control scheme relies primarily on electric signals and controls rather than computerized systems to achieve the autonomous response to incidents required for Tier IV Certification.
“In the over thirty Uptime Institute Tier Certification of Constructed Facility assessments I have completed, this has been the best prepared and best executed,” said Eric Maddison, Uptime Institute Consultant. “It is an incredible achievement to upgrade an existing data center to the demanding standards of an Uptime Institute Tier IV Certified data center, and the Region Nordjylland team did an exemplary job.”
Michael Lundsgaard Sørensen
Data Center Manager and Head of IT Operations
Chief Revenue Officer
Region Nordjylland Aalborg University Hospital Data Center Photos
Innovation Spotlight: Lowering Tier IV Costs by Using Mechanical Systems To Automate Outage Responses
Eric Maddison, Uptime Institute Consultant commented "Region Nordjylland’s has succeeded in developing a concept for autonomous response and control which is cheaper than a traditional CTS management system.”
The hospital’s Controls and Logging Sub-Systems (CTS) relies on electrical and mechanical response to:
- Detect critical and non-critical alarms
- Alert the alarm central and key personnel
- Register and log alarms in Tier IV facility
- Register and log operational data in Tier IV facility
- Engine-generator voltage and amperes.
- UPS output voltage and amperes.
- Free cooling status.
- Free cooling error.
- Exterior and ambient (hot aisle and cold aisle) temperatures
- Chiller and free cooling water temperatures (entering and leaving)
- In Row cooling water temperatures (entering and leaving)
- Temperatures in generator room A, UPS room A, and chiller room A
- Water and brine pressures in chillers, in-row cooler, and dry and free cooling circuits
“For instance,” Sørensen said, “The loads in the data center are monitored by a current alarm. If the sum of the currents on one of the phases from the A supply and the B supply exceeds the maximum of either of the supplies, an audible alarm sounds and a critical alarm generated in both the A and the B alarm system. The alarm will continue until the load is within the allowed maximum.”
“Region Nordjylland has shown foresight by designing and building the first Uptime Institute Tier IV Certified data center in the region. The focus on achieving the Tier IV certification for both the design and constructed facility means that the data center is ready and able to support the health service for future generations,” said Phil Collerton, Chief Revenue Officer, Uptime Institute.
Just as important and impressive, Region Nordjylland completed its upgrade without affecting the live load. The clinical nurses, doctors and patients never knew that all the cables, pipes, pumps, cooling, and electrical systems serving the data centers had been replaced. In fact, Region Nordjylland replaced everything in its data center except the servers and the racks.
Learn More about Region Nordjylland
The new data center has an IT capacity of 225 kilowatts. Access to the 211 m2 computer room is strictly limited as it is located in a 1225 square meter (m2) basement of a 35-year old, four -story government building. The basement itself is 8-meters below ground. The building includes 43-centimeter thick concrete walls automatic steel reinforced doors built to withstand possible threats facing the nation at that time. Denmark’s northern location also means that the data center can make extensive use of free cooling, which reduces the facility’s energy use.
The UPS is able to deliver 264 kilowatts (kW) and can provide battery backup for a minimum of 10 minutes at full load. It is a full-conversion type UPS with galvanic isolation between input and output. The UPS has both an internal and an external by-pass. When operating in external by-pass, it is possible to de-couple the UPS completely from the system.
The purpose of the buffer tanks is to ensure continuous cooling in case of a power failure, and to ensure stable operation of the chilled water coolers. In case of a power failure, the return temperature may rise to 40°C, as the in-row coolers have enough capacity to cool the data center with this temperature set, thus allowing the water in the buffer tanks to be used more than once. The UPS has a battery capacity lasting minimum 10 minutes. The buffer tanks can deliver the required cooling for this time.
The data center is designed with seven in-row coolers in the A and seven in-row coolers in the B chilled water subsystem. Each set of seven can remove the heat generated in the data center in case of a failure on the other chilled water subsystem. Temperatures in the warm aisle may rise to 43°C according to the specifications of the in-row coolers. At these temperatures the in-row can cool to the maximum load.
The data center is designed for 60 minutes fire safe operation, and all the rooms adjacent to the data center have sprinklers. It is therefore not likely that a fire can build up to strength where it can spread through FS60 doors and conduits to the data center rooms. The data center has an inert-gas fire suppression system.
All drains and piping are secured and monitored for leaks, but with the raised floor in the data center the water can not affect the computer equipment. If all the water from the thermal storage tanks and the pipes runs out on the floor it will not affect the computer equipment, electrical systems, UPS, etc., as all are installed on a 40-cm foundation.