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FLEXIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR INCREASINGLY HIGH-DENSITY DATA CENTERS

Banca Popolare di Sondrio chooses Schneider Electric’s IT technology and a valuable partner such as Lan & Wan Solutions to achieve its system availability and business continuity objectives.

A BIT OF HISTORY

Banca Popolare di Sondrio is an Italian credit institution active since 1871, today the parent company of the Banca Popolare di Sondrio banking group, which includes the subsidiaries Banca Popolare di Sondrio (SUISSE) SA, an institution governed by Swiss law based in Lugano and Factorit Spa, a company operating in the advancement and collection of trade receivables and related services. The bank, set up as a joint-stock cooperative company, makes a territorial network of 400 branches and more than 100 treasury branches, in which over 2,550 employees work, available to shareholders and users. The activities and services of Banca Popolare di Sondrio are supported by an ad hoc center inaugurated in April 1993 and located near Sondrio.

It is a high-tech center developed with the aim of providing an answer to the demand for growth and strengthening of corporate information systems, setting up an ICT environment suitable for following the Group companies in their current and future needs. At the Institute’s Service Center, over 200 employees are divided between the activities of organizing services and developing innovative proposals for the bank’s business, and the administration and management of information and telematic systems.

NEEDS

In response to a growing demand for modernization of the Data Center of the departmental infrastructure hosted at the Service Center, which is the heart of the Group’s business, Banca Popolare di Sondrio has developed a redevelopment project for the entire area dedicated to servers, power and containment infrastructures and part of the storage equipment.

Thanks to the contribution of Lan & Wan Solutions, a Padua-based company specializing in the design and implementation of ICT technologies for business strategies, the bank now has a high-density Data Center based on containment infrastructures, intelligent air conditioning and a centralized management ISX Central, produced by Schneider Electric, which together with the certified partner guarantees maximum reliability, securing the Group’s business and services. Born from the acquisition of APC in 2007, Schneider Electric’s IT Division is the world leader in precision power and air conditioning services, with an offering of products, software and systems for home, business, Data Center and environmental applications. industrial.

THE CHALLENGE

Develop a redevelopment project for the entire area dedicated to servers, the power and containment infrastructures and part of the storage equipment.

THE SOLUTION

Containment infrastructures, intelligent air conditioning and ISX Central centralized management platform, produced by Schneider Electric.

THE PROJECT

The data centers provided by the Banca Popolare di Sondrio began to show problems of obsolescence from a structural point of view, starting with the air conditioning systems which were no longer adequate. “Our server farms had grown rapidly starting from the spread of services via the web and the use of dedicated equipment”, explains Piergiorgio Spagnolatti, Server Farm and Distributed Systems Representative. “This rapid development and the consequent concentration of devices was not followed by an adequate infrastructural dimensioning. The old environments remained tied to a fairly dated current distribution and cooling system “. We are talking about 90 physical servers and over 600 virtual servers, to which the various storage systems are added. “It was envisaged as fundamental to equip our Data Center with a power and cooling system capable of fulfilling a fundamental Business Continuity function for the Bank”. By optimizing the dedicated spaces, it would have been possible to proceed with the consolidation of all the rooms into a single island and the use of a high-density lnRow air conditioning system.

The contribution of Lan & Wan Solutions was decisive on these assumptions, which in close contact with the IT team of Banca Popolare di Sondrio developed a solution in line with the objectives to be achieved. “We have evaluated various alternatives for the containment and plant components, especially in the cooling and electrical distribution sector”, continues Spagnolatti. “Only Schneider Electric’s IT technology was closest to the prerequisites and logistical constraints we were subjected to, also providing some features for monitoring consumption and system availability not present in the other solutions considered”. Lan & Wan Solutions has put in place a project based on Schneider Electric ISX solutions, with two rows of nine-rack containment cabinets, both set up with the hot aisle compartmentation, in which the components whose overheating is not at the expense of the hot aisle are concentrated. system integrity; it is a Data Center architecture that allows you to optimize the air conditioning system. Power distribution units (Rack Mount PDUs) for powering the servers have been installed in each rack, which allow the switching on, switching off and automatic reset of each single socket remotely even via a web browser, as well as from ISX console.

The air cooling units are also part of the Schneider Electric ISX solution and have been installed in line with the racks. The proximity of the air conditioning vectors to the heat source allows greater effectiveness, avoiding waste of energy. “For each corridor, one or more lnRow systems are used to dispose of the heat”, adds Angelo Panizza, Head of Telecommunications, Server Farms and Distributed Systems. “The air is sucked in through the rear of the system, refrigerated and re-introduced into the cold aisle, neutralizing the effects of excessive heating of the data processing equipment. The lnRow RC system provides a high volume flow of air, up to 11,725 cubic meters per hour with a maximum cooling capacity of 29KW, to eliminate the overheating of high-density systems “.

“Only Schneider Electric’s IT technology was the closest to the prerequisites and logistical constraints we were subject to, providing some features for monitoring consumption and system availability not present in the other solutions considered”

Piergiorgio Spagnolatti, Server Farm and Distributed Systems Representative

“We have estimated an energy saving deriving from the greater efficiency of the new systems adopted equal to about 30%. The performance metrics that can be detected in the new architecture, in addition to the active and passive monitoring probes, have made it possible to extend the level of control of the services provided in the Data Center, as well as to concretize the monitoring of growth, both from a capacitive and cost management”

Angelo Panizza, Telecommunications Manager Server farm and distributed systems

The cabinets that make up the island are also equipped with a device for environmental detection, with sensors to keep the air inlet temperature and humidity values under control. Furthermore, all air conditioning units are equipped with a probe capable of detecting the presence of liquids to signal any flooding. The centralized management system chosen is StruxureWare Central with Capacity Manager and allows centralized management and supervision of all intelligent components of the infrastructure, from cooling to electrical distribution to the racks up to environmental detection. “All this allows us to control the hydraulic and electrical system components that were previously delegated to those in charge of the facility management of the building, on which we in the Information Systems had no visibility”, explains Panizza. “In the event of inefficiencies on the power supply systems on the lines, in the event of insufficient cooling or failure, the risk was to become aware of them too late, when the damage had already occurred or even a serious impairment of the service was already evident. Now, thanks to Schneider Electric, monitoring the availability of the infrastructure is our responsibility and allows us to be more proactive “.

It is a centralized control system that also includes reporting that allows the use of data about the consumption of the entire infrastructure for subsequent calculations on costs and benefits. “We have estimated an energy saving deriving from the greater efficiency of the new systems adopted equal to about 30%”, continues Panizza, “The performance metrics that can be detected in the new architecture, in addition to the active and passive monitoring probes, have made it possible to extend the level of control of the services provided in the Data Center, as well as concretizing the supervision of growth, both from a capacitive and cost management point of view “. But that is not all. “The rationalization of the plant component has brought benefits where there were dedicated lines, inherited from the old mainframe system. Now it is possible for us to carry out capacity planning and configure how much load to put on a single machine or on an entire cabinet. There is an increase in performance on the predictability of the Data Center, against the risk of performance drops and unavailability of services to which we were previously subject “.

All this has allowed Banca Popolare di Sondrio to achieve the objectives of system availability and security of the Data Center, which had been identified in the design phase. “With the redundant power and cooling solutions, produced by Schneider Electric and supplied by Lan & Wan Solutions, we have aligned ourselves with the guiding principles underlying the growth model we had envisaged for technological infrastructures,” Spagnolatti points out. “We have been able to standardize the availability model on higher levels than in the past, with significantly higher reliability guarantees of the plants that minimize the risks and the consequences of partial or total interruptions of the basic services covered by the solutions adopted”.

The opinion on the work of Lan & Wan Solutions is equally positive. “Our technological partner has demonstrated reliability and professionalism in all phases, including the delicate moment of migration from the old to the new infrastructure, which was carried out without any impact on the services that our center provides to the bank’s customers”, concludes Spagnolatti. “We have also already been able to verify the efficiency of their organizational machine also for after-sales services, in conjunction with ordinary or extraordinary maintenance interventions that have taken place in recent months”.

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