In digital they trust
October 1, 2007
Digital Realty Trust, the largest third-party owner of technology related real estate, acquires, manages, and builds mission critical communication and data center facilities. Since 2001, Digital Realty Trust’s portfolio has grown to 62 properties totaling over 11.8 million sq ft in 25 markets across North America and Europe. Major tenants include a cross-section of Fortune 1000 companies.
More than a collection of facilities, Digital Realty Trust (DRT) has created a network of properties united by its own secure Critical Facilities Management™ network. A key to maintaining a consistent, high level of quality at each location is a set of building technology standards. These are designed to ensure dependable operations for DRT’s tenants, who do not want to risk their data or lose control of the security and environmental protection of their information systems.
According to the standards, each building must efficiently provide electrical power to run multi-tenant server farms in a single building. In addition, precision temperature and airflow control systems are essential in maintaining the range of cooling conditions required to keep servers running at maximum efficiency. Finally, each facility must have a BMS that integrates with building system controllers in multiple facilities and provides partitioned access to controls for DRT and its individual tenants. The BMS must also operate efficiently over an IP network with a central hub controlling nodes distributed across multiple cities and regions.
ABOUT THE CHOICEDRT uses the TAC Andover Continuum™ system to provide precise controls for HVAC and programmability to meet different tenant scenarios. Because their business model allows tenants to lease an entire floor, office, or section, DRT’s BMS must be flexible to new scenarios of control. They chose TAC to provide their BMS, not only because it met the owner/developer’s unique needs for building management, but also because of the close collaboration between TAC and its parent company, Schneider Electric.
“Some tenants want total ownership and access to operations. For them, we provide the bandwidth, the IP address, and access to their part of the BMS controls,” said Ted Martin, DRT vice president of operations. “Other tenants are happy to have us manage systems for them. In either case, we are responsible for the building, including the power, environmental, and security systems. Furthermore, we update and refine these systems regularly, so the ability to adapt to change is very important.”
The Andover Continuum CyberStation® Web browser allows each tenant to access the controls and monitoring systems they need across DRT’s virtual private network. Firewall protection and authentication systems guard the virtual boundaries between tenants.
The BMS provides alarms to alert users if there are issues with airflow, humidity, or utility controls. Constant and accurate monitoring reassures tenants that the environment for their servers is maintained within specified parameters.
DRT also uses the BMS to manage energy costs by using conservation measures such as load shedding, where possible, across facilities. In addition, DRT utilizes specialized access control systems including CCTV cameras and digital video recorders from Integral Technologies, another company belonging to the Schneider Electric group.
POWER PACKED APPLICATIONSchneider Electric provides the power systems, including UPS with battery backup, to meet the crucial requirement of continuous high-capacity power for the facilities. For example, DRT’s 1.1 million-sq-ft Chicago facility provides five times the power capacity of the Sears Tower in one-quarter of its size.
To ensure high reliability for its customers, DRT backs up the BMS with redundant servers to provide full disaster recovery. The system incorporates net controller SNMP alarming to provide an alternative method to send critical alarms to third-party network management systems. DRT’s operations department also likes the open standards approach provided by TAC’s native BACnet® implementation.
“We like BACnet for integrating components, especially since we do a lot of retrofits with existing building systems in place at some of the facilities we acquire,” Martin said. “Any additional overhead costs for BACnet are incremental and usually recovered by the ease of integration.”
As DRT continues to grow its “Turn-Key Datacenter™” business model, TAC will provide global coordination and design expertise to ensure the company’s standards are implemented. With a data network in place and a BMS that provides optimal building control, Digital Realty Trust can keep its tenants happy and rapidly grow its revenues and portfolio.