Positioning itself as the ultimate data center, Herakles Data of Sacramento, CA, offers uninterruptible power, improved cooling, and redundant internet bandwidth to its co-location customers seeking to outsource their primary or disaster recovery IT infrastructures. At a co-location data center, corporations rent specific spaces to operate their data servers, along with the servers of other companies, in a common physical location.

Given the heat-generating critical servers housed in the facility, cooling is critical for the data center. “Cooling is the number two essential factor after uninterrupted power for our customers,” said Laurence Stancil, director of facilities at Herakles Data.

Adds Herakles Data President and CEO Lou Kirchner, “Customers have come to us after leaving a previous data center because cooling was inadequate or unreliable. And with the newer servers being more powerful and more compact than ever, they produce even more heat. With our facility near 100 percent capacity, it’s critical that our cooling capacity be able to handle the heat of the newest generation of servers.”

Chiller models available with the new McQuay modular central plant include energy-efficient screw, scroll, centrifugal or magnetic bearing compressor.

Mission Critical

Herakles Data’s rapid business growth meant that it had outgrown the capacity of its existing four air-cooled chillers. It needed additional capacity that could meet the demands of its mission-critical interior space and ambient temperatures that typically reach 95 degrees during the summer. “Under California’s Title 24 standards, we couldn’t add a fifth chiller to meet our growing capacity needs, so we had to consider alternatives outside the box,” said Stancil. “Our number one requirement in selecting a new system was speed. The new cooling system had to be installed and operating as fast as possible, with minimal interruption to our cooling requirements.”

Working with representatives from Norman Wright Mechanical Equipment Corporation, the McQuay representative in Sacramento, the facility team from Herakles Data evaluated alternative solutions and selected McQuay modular central plants. Modular central plants are pre-engineered and pre-assembled from one supplier with the chiller, pumps, cooling tower, and interconnected piping and then shipped to the jobsite for final assembly. Their modular configuration reduces site assembly time compared to traditional “site-built” cooling plants where the chiller, cooling tower, pumps, and piping all coming from separate sources.

Although he had a long working relationship with McQuay, Stancil was initially skeptical of the modular central plant concept. The installation process made him a believer. “Our first four Modular Central Plants were dropped, bolted and wired – fully assembled – in a week. I’d compare it to changing a propeller in flight,” Stancil said. “You have to get it right the first time. And we did. Final site assembly was a very clean process – fast, easy and efficient.”

It was so fast and easy that Stancil now prefers the modular central plant concept to the traditional site-built central cooling plant. “I would never do it the old way again,” he said.

Kirchner was especially pleased that the one-week installation process resulted in zero downtime for the data center saying, “It was seamless for our customers.”

The modular central plant combines a water-cooled chiller with pumps, cooling tower and interconnected piping.

More Capacity

Since June 2007, a total of six Modular Central Plants have provided chilled water to 59 computer room air conditioning units in the 52,500 square foot data center. Each of the modules consists of a 500-ton centrifugal compressor water chiller pre-engineered and pre-assembled with pumps, piping, cooling tower, control panel and associated water treatment system.

Kirchner’s original goal of increased cooling capacity to meet Herakles Data’s projected growth was not only achieved, but also surpassed. “We provide N+1 business solutions for our customers, meaning we meet their needs plus provide redundancy,” he said. “Today, however, we have surpassed that goal because we typically run only two of the four original modular central plants. That results in 2N cooling capacity today available to our data center customers.”

In addition to fast-track construction and commissioning, the new central plants resulted in impressive energy savings compared to the old system. “Our old system used 3,600 kilowatt-hourwatt-hour (kWh)h/ton a day; the new system uses 2,800 kWh/ton a day for a 22 percent reduction in energy,” Stancil said. That reduced energy usage earned Herakles Data a $50,000 rebate from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.