Why do companies outsource their IT infrastructure to a colocation data centre? One of the reasons is that they trust a data centre provider for their knowledge, resources and expertise. Often, companies are not able or not willing to invest in this themselves. A data centre offers, for example, 24/7 technical support, security, the possibility to flexibly scale up capacity and the guaranteed use of the latest technology to allow for centralised, efficient management. However, before a new data centre, such as Interxion’s AMS8, can guarantee this service, it must be certain that the data centre’s facility performance is within the capabilities of the Employer Requirements, Design and Service Level Agreements. Only then, after the construction work has been completed, can the data centre be transferred to Interxion’s Operations team, so that they can conduct the final tests together with the construction partner.
AMS8 will be put into operation in three phases. Now that the date of commissioning of the first phase is approaching, we are focusing to implement the activities listed in the Handover Strategy. This is including agreement of information required for commissioning, training, handover, asset management, future monitoring and maintenance. Especially because soon, part of AMS8 will still be under construction, while another part will be operational.
Before phase 1 becomes operational, it is necessary to be certain that the data centre operates within the capabilities of the Employer Requirements and Design. Each phase will be individually commissioned by an independent third party, the commissioning agent. The entire commissioning process consists of more than 3,000 Commissioning Tests, classified into five different levels:
Level 1 – Factory Testing
Level 2 – Quality Assurance/ Quality Control
Level 3 – Start-up Witness Testing
Level 4 – Functional Performance Testing
Level 5 – Integrated Systems Testing
At the time of writing, the first phase of Interxion’s new data centre, AMS8, is at Level 4, the Functional Performance Testing. All the systems, such as the cooling system, the gas fire extinguishers and the emergency power systems, are verified to see whether they perform correctly, independently from each other. The Provisional Acceptance phase can begin once the commissioning agent has accepted that the individual system and major equipment operation verification is completed successfully.
This is the last level of testing, the integrated system operation verification. In other words, do all the systems operate correctly together? When a component cuts out, do the other components react as expected? Do all of the redundancy systems work? Does the cooling system remain operational? During this phase, full occupation of the data centre is simulated, as if the entire data centre is filled with our customers’ IT infrastructure. Using a load bank, the infrastructure is subjected to a load identical to the final situation. Unique about this situation is that the Operations team can, in principle, test as much as it wants. Customers have not yet installed their IT and the team can turn anything on and off to see what happens. Only by doing this is Interxion able to guarantee its customers the best quality possible.
The Operation & Maintenance manual is drawn up in parallel to the tests. This manual contains all the information about the building, such as drawings, maintenance contracts, warranties and guarantees, and as-constructed information. The manual is approximately 18 GB in size and contains about 8,000 documents for each phase. Only the documentation itself represents approximately 12,000 hours of work for each phase. The documentation ensures that the Operations team knows the building inside out and is always able to find out what happened when and where.
Separation between construction and going live
Once phase 1 becomes operational, there will be a temporary situation in which one part of the data centre is live, while the other part is still under construction. This means that both construction workers and Interxion’s customers will be on the premises at the same time. The preparations for this situation are fully underway. There is already a physical dustproof separation between the area that will shortly go live and the rest of the site, so that all the parties concerned can get used to the situation. The data centre is already a clean room area and everybody must wear an overcoat and overshoes. For everything that potentially can have an effect on the live phase, a very strict access policy and work permit policy will be in place. This takes place in close cooperation with Operations.
Security is now also present at the AMS8 site, so that they can get to know the building long before the first phase goes live. This way, the construction workers can also get used to the partially operational situation, which will soon be the case.
Every component is tested both individually and integrally. Before a phase becomes operational and available for Interxion’s customers, the Operations team makes sure that AMS8 is in exactly the same condition as Interxion’s other data centres. And that is a state-of-the-art data centre of the highest quality!