Fire suppression installation company Ansul finalizes SDC1
Ansul Solutions B.V has completed the new fire suppression installation of the new Serverius data center. The largest new-build project by Ansul ever.
Serverius was given the opportunity last year to purchase the building next to the Dronten data center. This means that it can double the capacity at the location where the company once started. A lot is involved in this expansion. One of the points to which extra attention has been paid is the gas fire suppression installation. For this, an appeal was made to the expertise of Ansul Solutions B.V from Lelystad.
Demand for floor space in the data centers of Serverius in Dronten and Meppel is high. Expansion of capacity would therefore be more than welcome. When the property next to SDC1 became vacant, the acquisition was quickly taken, even though the property was not set up as a data center. Alfred van den Berg, head of technical infrastructure: “Extending an existing data center by adding the building next to it is not that simple. You can’t just tear down a connecting wall and combine the the two buildings into one datacenter.” Van den Berg explains that both buildings had to be totally stripped and then rebuilt as one building. In addition, everything has to be in conformity with the requirements that apply to Serverius’ other data center locations. “The power supply has to be upgraded to to 2N, the cooling and other equipment to be modified in line .
The new SDC1 will meet all requirements for a modern and secure data center.” Gaseous fire suppression systems are an important part of every professional data center. Since Serverius sets high standards for this, ANSUL Solutions was selected to provide the solution. . Serverius has been a long-time customer with this company. Senior advisor Jan de Bruin: “ANSUL Solutions is a Dutch company founded in 1927. We are the leading provider of gaseous fire suppression systems for many sectors in the Netherlands, including the data center industry.” ANSUL takes care of the development, design and construction of the these systems. The company is also reknowned as a professional organization providing the maintenance of installations supplied by third parties.
SDC1 is an example of the latter, says De Bruin: “ANSUL has not built the installation in the existing data center, but carried out the maintenance for years.” The other Serverius locations are also known to ANSUL. According to De Bruin, this has the advantage that both companies are used to working together and have short lines of communication. “We were therefore asked to think along at a very early stage about the new data center that was to be created in Dronten. The requirements that Van den Berg put forward are to be expected from a modern and especially professional data center. ”
The fact that ANSUL was involved in the project so early had several practical advantages. The gaseous fire suppression systems for a data center room of the size that will be built in the new part of SDC1 require dozens of canisters. “We are talking about more than 100 canisters. That adds a significant weight that must be taken into account in the architectural design from the start, “explains De Bruin. “If it’s forgotten or not done properly, it will inevitably cause serious problems.”
Van den Berg agrees to that. “It’s not just the weight and the floor load, of which we were both aware. One other Serverius’ requirement is that the data floors remain separated from other installations. Cooling and fire suppression systems must be located in different rooms. “
According to De Bruin, the reason for this choice is understandable. “We see a trend at data centers and elsewhere that separation is more often required. The advantage is simple: maintenance engineers should not have to enter the data floor. That was common for many years, but it is nowadays considered by a growing number of datacenters and their customers as undesirable.” Van den Berg: “That is fully true for Serverius. Our customers do not want unauthorized persons to come close to their data. That has everything to do with data security and -integrity. But there is another very practical reason why Serverius prefers separate rooms for data, cooling and fire suppression. Our data floors have to be absolutely clean. Maintenance always creates waste. With strictly separated spaces, we prevent any kind of waste from entering the data floor and causing problems there. It is part of the Serverius policy to keep the risk of errors as low as possible. We didn’t have to explain that to ANSUL, they fully understand and support that rule.”
For De Bruin it goes without saying that every project and location is different. Customization is almost inevitable because customer requirements are rarely the same.. “If we look at the data center landscape, we see that the largest data centers, the so-called hyperscalers, consider the value of the buildings as more important than the value of the data stored. That is because they operate on a different scale and have data mirrors in different places. There are hyperscalers that don’t have gaseous suppression systems but rely on other methods, such as sprinklers.”
Different rules apply to the Serverius datacenters. Customer data must be protected to the maximum. That is why a gaseous fire suppression installation is indispensable and why it should be equipped with Silent Nozzles. ANSUL advises all customers with server rooms or data centers to always use this type of nozzle. They are designed in such a way that the sound level remains below 100 decibels when the extinguishing installation is used. This reduces vibrations, preventing damage to mechanical components, especially the hard drives in a data center.
This not a theoretical issue, but a real threat. In 2014, an incident with a gaseous fire suppression system elsewhere in Europe led to extensive damage to the hard drives in a dedicated data center. The disaster generated ample coverage in the industrial press and intensive research has been done since. The solution has been known for several years now. De Bruin: “We did not have to advise Silent Nozzles for Serverius. They asked for it, because they already use them at the other locations”. Van den Berg nods in agreement: “We are indeed familiar with these nozzles for some years now. For us it is a logical and necessary component that contributes to guaranteeing the continuity of the service. Our customers consciously choose a professional organization that is familiar with this type of challenges.”
The detection system is an essential part of every gaseous suppression installation. There are several techniques and methods to detect. At Serverius, the new and existing systems have been adapted by ANSUL so that the same method is applied at all locations. This makes supervision and maintenance easier and reduces the risk of mistakes.
The system must of course ensure that a fire is detected at the earliest possible stage. De Bruin: “To be clear, it does not have to be a fire. What we call ‘the smoldering phase’ must also be recognized. That occurs for instance if a socket under a raised floor becomes too hot.” In that case, the fire has to be extinguished without impact on the rest of the environment. Fine-meshed detection and control is therefore key,” De Bruin explains. “Both detection and response are differently in comparison with conventional systems. Most systems are designed in such a way that every detection switches off the entire air conditioning and heating system. The high sensitive smoke detection (HSSD) applied here by ANSUL also measures inside the air conditioning and heating system. This prevents unnecessary switching off. Serverius can continue to operate and therefore meet the continuity requirements of the customers.
” De Bruin is entirely correct about continuity,” says Van den Berg. “Outage and downtime are very undesirable in our data centers, because customers expect 24/7 availability. It is therefore also unacceptable that a local issue would lead to shutting down an entire rack, let alone a whole corridor. We simply could not explain that to our customers.” ANSUL provides the optimal solution to those requirements by developing and installing systems that extinguish only when really needed. The customer and the users, won’t notice anything.
Delivery according to schedule
The expansion of SDC1 is progressing steadily. The gaseous fire suppression system for the new building section is now ready. As far as De Bruin and Van den Berg are concerned, the job is not over yet. As soon as equipment will be filling the data room, the air flows will change. The installation must than of course be adjusted accordingly. De Bruin: “Adjusting an aspiration system requires time, so my colleagues will still be working here regularly in the weeks to come (months) Again, it makes a difference that we know both the location and the client so well and also do the regular maintenance of the systems. We can therefore work a lot more efficiently.”
Now that the delivery of the gaseous fire suppression system has been completed, Van den Berg has yet another task to complete. There is an extensive facility protocol within Serverius that prescribes what needs to be checked and how logging and reporting takes place. Van den Berg will add the rules that apply to this new installation to the existing protocol. Employees that are going to work at the new location have already been trained. However, it remains necessary to have the rules available in an easy, accessible manner for everyone. This ensures that anyone can check in advance , for example when it is necessary and permitted to temporarily shift the system to manual if there are suppliers working on the air conditioning.
De Bruin: “We have a duty of care and are therefore always prepared to explain the operation of the systems to new employees at the customer’s location. That is an absolute necessity. People working in buildings or rooms that are protected with our systems should know that those systems are not always harmless.” De Bruin had never seen a customer before that, like Serverius, uses a wiki to safeguard and share the necessary knowledge . “They work with an internal wiki. That is a good and efficient way to organize and could make a big difference for other customer locations and situations.”
A result to be proud of
Van den Berg: “Now that this part of the project is completed , it is becoming increasingly visible what the end result will be. Everything is neatly concealed and integrated into the building. The result will be the finest data center I know. That is something to be proud of. From now on I will consider Dronten the norm for any other new datacenter construction.”
De Bruin: “The intention is of course that a gaseous fire suppression system is not activated inadvertently, and whenit unexpectedly does, it should cause minimal inconveniences. What we have delivered here for and with Serverius fully meets those requirements and also contributes to the professional appearance of the data center. Also in that respect, we are very proud of the result. “
ANSUL focuses on long-term customer relationships. Prompt delivery is important, but not the end. De Bruin: “The next important phase for us is when the client, in this case Serverius, entrusts us with the maintenance of the systems for many years. Now that that has been arranged too, we have an extra reason to be proud of the Serverius data center in Dronten. ”