Photos: Inside Human Services' data centre in Hume

 

Green facility to cut annual power costs by $5 million.

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The Federal Department of Human Services (DHS) expects to save $5 million per year in power costs after merging seven ageing data centres into two more modern facilities.

Since revealing its data centre consolidation plans last January, the department has been working to establish two data centres in Canberra as the primary and back-up site for all constituent agencies.

One of those sites is in the Canberra Data Centres (CDC) facility in Hume. The other is likely to be located in the southern Canberra suburb of Tuggeranong.

On a tour of the Hume data centre yesterday, Human Services Minister Kim Carr said the consolidated systems would ensure that the department's public data was accessible, secure and environmentally friendly.

The Hume data centre would "support nation-wide services", including those of Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, he said.

Carr added that the department would halve its ICT carbon footprint and improve the speed and reliability of ICT services by consolidating its systems.

CDC's facility in Hume opened in May 2008 and serves 20 agencies, including the Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Human Services will consume half of the CDC's capacity, the department's chief information officer Gary Sterrenberg told iTnews.

CDC managing director Greg Boorer said the department had agreed to host 2500MW of equipment in the facility for ten years with extension options.

"This would be one of the largest cloud deployments in the southern hemisphere or the world today," he said. "For the Government, this [is a] private cloud."

"This takes DHS from 500 physical machines to 50 virtual machines, which is all around moving capacity to where it is needed at a fraction of the cost of the traditional computing model."

The data centre boasts clean and green technologies that are up to 40 percent more efficient in energy use when compared with the department's former facilities.

Although it takes up less physical space than previous centres, it has increased virtual storage capabilities with tape cartridge libraries holding 50 times the amount of data compared to past sites.

The data centre features hot aisle containment with "free air" capable air-cooled chillers that do not use any water, thus avoiding the use of up to 100,000 litres of water per day.

It boasts Uptime Institute Tier 3 architecture, which guarantees a minimum availability of 99.982 percent. Boorer said the data centre had achieved 100 percent availability since launch.

"We’ve had high availability with Medicare but Centrelink [was] always exposed to down time," Sterrenberg said.

"We had 500 independent servers spread across seven or eight data centres. Each of those was a point of failure.

"With the move to Hume we’ve consolidated infrastructure into 50 servers, that are virtualised. That provides a high availability in terms of the ability to serve citizens."

Sterrenberg said the move involved $750 million in operational expenditure and $130 million in capital expenditure.

CDC's online specifications indicate that the facility supports from 7.5 to 30 kW per rack and provides automated, real-time data on power usage, heat and humidity.

The facility is ASIO T4 certified as a "secure area" under the Government's Protective Security Manual, with 24x7 staff and time-stamped IP cameras.

It has a diesel generator farm, bulk fuel storage, and ‘live’ tanker refuelling station on site, as well as emergency diesel supply contracts, allowing the data centre to run indefinitely in "island" mode without mains power.

Liz Tay contributed to this story.

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