The first Tier III-certified, public sector data center in Mexico is part of the INFOTEC 'Gran Plan' — Great Plan — to help stimulate an information- and knowledge-driven economy that helps change society.

"Our strategic objective is to make IC technologies a daily part of the lives of citizens and the work of educational and governmental agencies," said Everardo Cisneros, Gerente de Incubación Tecnologica y Negocio Aguascalientes of the state-owned, information, and communications technology (ICT) organization. "We want to improve overall economic, social and digital opportunities, and the country's global competitiveness."

INFOTEC designed, constructed, and operates the seven-room, 7,911 sq ft, high-availability data center in accordance with Tier III international standards. Designed availability is 99.982%, equal to 1.6 hours of downtime annually.

Multiple independent distribution paths serve ICT equipment, which is dual powered and compatible with the geometry of the site's concurrently maintainable infrastructure. ASCO Power Technologies, a business unit of Emerson Network Power, partnered with INFOTEC to develop much of the power distribution infrastructure.

The data center, located in Aguascalientes in north-central Mexico, stores, processes, and transmits mission-critical data and runs applications necessary to achieve the plan and support its work with the country's public, private, academic, and social sectors.

Four Factors Fulfill Goals

"Four factors help us accomplish our goals," said Cisneros. "They are innovation, experience, proven efficiency, and customer satisfaction."

Innovation in quality standards drives processes, methodologies, and infrastructure that satisfy or exceed national and international benchmarks. The concept of quality is, in fact, a strategy in itself.

Three decades of information and communications experience support client decision-making and engineering. Data center personnel understand and know how to satisfy and even exceed client expectations. They manage processes and seek continuous improvement.

Proven efficiency has been honed by INFOTEC's work on public sector projects and led to the development of the Tier III data center. National and international experts recognize the company's expertise.

Satisfying clients means fulfilling and exceeding their expectations. INFOTEC's knowledge-based, differentiated products and services satisfy client requirements and support continuous process improvement.

Evaluating Engineering Approaches

"We decided early on that fulfilling our goals would demand a Tier III data center," said Cisneros. While a variety of U.S. engineering approaches achieve Tier III-level availability, which approach would another country choose for such a critical component of its effort to enhance its overall competitiveness?

INFOTEC, engineering consultants and ASCO Power evaluated a range of options and selected a 2N approach using a dual bus design.

At maximum configuration, the design comprises eight segments and includes 32 selectively coordinated gen-set breakers and 16 Main-Tie Tie-Main breakers. The design's scope demanded a robust, sophisticated power control system that would help deliver the high availability INFOTEC required for the data center.

The answer? A power control system that features main, separated switchgear, integrated distributed controls, power transfer switches, distributed circuit breakers and protection devices for managing compartmentalized multiple utility and generator sources for extended power backup of multiple critical loads.

Alejandro Garcia, project manager, ASCO Power Switching and Controls Latin America, said, "Equipment certification is very important in Mexico, so INFOTEC chose only advanced-technology, multiple-engine switchgear that met UL 1558 and IBC 2009 seismic requirements." The switchgear starts, synchronizes, parallels, monitors, and protects prime power systems such as the one designed for the data center. The company also provided innovative automatic transfer switches, surge protection devices and load banks, and integrated distributed controls.

The Power Control Topology

A single, 13.2kV utility source feeds power to the data center's main substation. Two, main medium-voltage feeders lead to two, main 2500kVA, 13.8kV transformers that step down power to 4000A, 480V, 277VAC, 3- phase, 4-wire at 100kA. Each main transformer, in turn, powers the two buses, A and B.

A separate, ASCO 7000 Series UL-1558 low-voltage switchgear lineup for each bus connects with a single prime, 2250kW diesel gen-set. Two, 3200A tie breakers enable each bus' lineup and gen-set to power the other bus' loads, so either gen-set and transformer can power the entire data center by automatically and/or manually initiated complex sequence of operations customized for the power system.

Four-pole, drawout circuit breakers for the utility source, gen-sets and ties guard against a common point of failure. All breakers are electrically operated and are certified to UL 1066. Main-tie tie-main also enables a bus to be completely isolated for concurrent maintenance, avoiding common point of failure and enabling planned power shutdowns.

Two feeders from each set of switchgear run to a 1500kVA Liebert UPS on each bus. One feeder is a 'home run' for the bypass and another for the rectifier. One feeder links to HA and HB main panels that distribute power to three, 600A automatic transfer switches operating in the closed-transition transfer mode. The systems are certified to UL 1008 and IBC 2009 seismic requirements. Each switch transfers power to a 250-ton chiller and general service loads. The main services panel has an automatic transfer breaker that accepts power from the HA and HB panels. As with everything else with this 2N design, either bus can power all three Liebert chillers.

One, 600 kA surge protection device on each bus helps safeguard equipment and individual load banks help test gen-sets while data center loads are powered by the utility source.

ASCO is helping train personnel to maintain and operate much of the power distribution equipment in the dual bus design.

The Power of Distributed Control

By their very nature, the data center's sophisticated power distribution equipment produces 'islands' of data and communications challenges. Redundant PLCs (programmable logic controllers), human-machine interfaces, sensors, and other data streaming devices for paralleling systems, power transfer switches, gen-sets, generator and utility breakers, and components such as power quality meters and protective devices, all produce prodigious amounts of data that need to be integrated and analyzed. Equipment must be able to 'talk' to each other and operators need to be able to synchronize, monitor, control and communicate with it all.

It promised to be a daunting task.

But INFOTEC executives selected a distributed controls architecture that centralizes data collection and analysis, and power system monitoring and control. The architecture includes a redundant master controller for the paralleling switchgear, which enhances fault recovery should the operating controller fail. Distribution load controls for load bus optimization and generator load demand help manage individual priority load assignments and aggregate generator capacity.

Automatic and manual controls that encompass operator interface touch screens and an array of button-activated switch panels provide operational flexibility.

Looking back, the key challenge INFOTEC faced during the project was strengthening its strategic planning capabilities, including situational analytics. Its Office of Strategic Planning subsequently developed a strategy for the data center based on technological performance. It supports sustainable operation, competitiveness and social responsibility, satisfies client requirements, and is measurable.

The Next Step

"To protect our investment in our Tier III data center, we want to earn certification for operational sustainability," said Cisneros. That's the long-term ability to realize such Tier III benefits as minimizing downtime, reducing human error and enhancing energy efficiency for the data center's seven rooms.

Two rooms allow for expanding data center capabilities as next-generation compute equipment becomes available, and offering cloud access.

A single room is for a range of compute equipment that can be modified, improved and integrated with next-generation equipment.

Two rooms are dedicated to telecommunications applications that offer nationwide data access, and future capability of operating as a colo facility with other centers.

Two additional server rooms are dedicated to satisfying data storage and processing requirements for external clients.

The data center also includes CERT, a response center for security issues affecting information and communication technologies, and CENAM, a national monitoring center that verifies proper operation of IC technology services and components.

In general, IC equipment is aligned with the data center's processing schemes, storage and security. Two-and-a-half megawatts of on-site generation provide redundant power to equipment.

The data center's capabilities support the Gran Plan by providing an IC platform for the Internet of Things, Big Data management, cloud computing, intelligent cities, cyber security, the evolution of digital administration, rather than paperwork, and building applications and solutions for digital content.

Formula for Success

"If we were to advise another governmental organization on planning a similar project, our advice would be based on what we learned during this project," said Cisneros.

 "Expect optimal solutions from manufacturers, such as ASCO, to support the requirements of day-to-day operations and to contribute 'best practices,' based on international standards."

Manufacturers need to provide a breadth of knowledge, and a range of abilities, tools and techniques. INFOTEC demands that requirements be identified and agreed on, the timetable to be defined and met, and the budget, resources, quality assurance and risk tightly managed.

It also means meeting the expectations of both the client and the manufacturer. The client must be satisfied with the manufacturer's scope, functionality and service. The manufacturer must be satisfied with its compensation and opportunities for additional projects.

INFOTEC suggests that successful project management follows the 80-20 rule. Eighty percent is the human aspects of attitude and behavior in administering a project. Twenty percent is the technical aspects of processes, procedures, tools and techniques that address planning, organization, monitoring and control.

The formula is helping create an information- and knowledge-driven economy for changing society.