Server Cooling and Server Cabinets: examples in the NHS
As we are all very aware at the moment the NHS in the UK is an extremely complex organisation and the demands on the services available are ever-changing and wide-ranging. Apart from the specialist medical teams working as clinicians, the NHS has many non-medical teams that support the NHS services and the support the buildings that house the services. The demands on the non-medical teams in hospitals reflect the changing and dynamic nature of the working practices of the medical teams and therefore are constantly being upgraded and improved to support clinical practice. At Maxi-Cool we have supported the IT function of several hospital trusts for entirely different and unrelated reasons and here are two examples.
In the first example, the hospital trust wanted to change the location of stored confidential and unspecified data in server cabinets held on the hospital site. The team wanted to relocate the data storage away from the offices in the main building into the loft space of a secure and unmanned building on another part of the site. They wanted to use the existing space available as they did not want the cost and time considerations required in making modifications to the building.
We visited the site and found that the loft space was in many ways ideally suited to housing server cabinets as it was vast and had more than adequate airflow. However, as the space had been previously unused it very dusty and as it was close to the outside it got very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. For the servers to operate properly in this location the server cabinet needed to be dustproof and have an integrated cabinet cooling system which was temperature-controlled and where the temperature could be monitored remotely. The loft was accessed via a narrow and awkwardly located staircase. In addition, the customer required a non-standard cabinet primarily for the purposes of cable management and also wanted us to install the unit on the site.
These considerations required us to make some adjustments to our standard cooler server rack product and server cabinet installation service. Firstly, we modified the layout of the server cabinet cooling system to be fully operational on a larger than usual server cabinet and the server cabinet we provided was rated against dust ingress. Secondly, to address the access issues we delivered the server cabinet in kit form and then our team built the cabinet on site. The Maxi-Cool Enclosure Cooling system was fitted onto the built server cabinet and it was tested and left ready for the IT team to install the servers.
In the second case, the hospital trust needed to install small localised server cabinets (or micro data centres) around the hospital to support the increased provision of Wi-Fi for patients and visitors to use. The hospital IT team were interested in using empty spaces around the hospital, for example, stairwells and cupboards, as the floor space in the hospital corridors were not available. The team also wanted the server cabinets to be secure and out of sight.
We visited the site and it was agreed that very small server cabinets complete with the Maxi-Cool Cooling System could be wall mounted in corridors and stairwells as a solution. We then designed and supplied modified server cabinets suitable for wall mounting complete with the Maxi-Cool server cooling system. These were delivered to the site and installed by the building services contractor.
In both of these examples, we were able to provide a bespoke server cooling system and cabinet configuration for NHS sites. We successfully interpreted each brief and worked with a range of teams and services to reach the required outcome. These installations demonstrate that adequate server cooling in confined and unusual spaces is achievable with careful investigation of the location and the requirements of the site in question. Providing secure servers with proper server cooling in challenging and sometimes unusual locations is one of our primary objectives and the type of client interaction that makes our work interesting.