December 10, 2023

IT Shops Strike Partnerships to Make Data Center Overhauls More Efficient

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IT Shops Strike Partnerships to Make Data Center Overhauls More Efficient
Mon, 01/07/2019 – 10:15

The technology services team at Rocklin Unified School District may as well have had its maintenance crew on speed dial. The HVAC unit in the suburban Sacramento district’s data center was at the end of its life, and maintenance was constantly repairing outages and system failures.

“We were getting to some system obsolescence issues, and maintenance was at the end of their bag of tricks to keep everything going,” Rocklin USD CTO Mike Fury says.

“Both departments came to the same recognition that there was a problem that needed to be addressed,” adds Craig Rouse, Rocklin USD’s senior director of facilities, maintenance and operations.

Rather than leave it to the facilities department to replace the HVAC unit with a similar system, tech services ­partnered with maintenance and facilities on a larger project to maximize data center space and efficiency with a more innovative solution. 

During the summer of 2017, the departments pooled finances and resources to implement the Vertiv SmartRow modular data center at its main site and as its disaster recovery backup at a district high school. Such collaboration makes sense as a growing number of facilities ­systems, from HVAC to phones, run over data networks.

“There’s a lot of convergence and a lot of intradepartmental communication that’s taking place,” says Fury. “More so than ever before.”

Collaboration — particularly in school districts, which are often strapped for resources — is essential with today’s data center projects, says Laura DiDio, principal of ITIC, a research and consulting firm. “Everyone wants to guard their fiefdoms,” DiDio says, “but breaking down those silos is beneficial for all involved.” 

MORE FROM EDTECH: See how your school can avoid these common data center mistakes.

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While the Rocklin USD technology, maintenance and facilities departments agreed that working together was in everyone’s best interest, they went into the project with different philosophies, explains Fury.

Maintenance and facilities had an environmental system perspective; they had envisioned replacing the old HVAC units with similar, traditional roof-mounted AC packs that are efficient at cooling larger spaces. Technology serv­ices saw the project as an opportunity to maximize data center efficiency after years of virtualization and consolidation.

Melissa Delaney is a freelance journalist who specializes in business technology. She is a frequent contributor to the CDW family of technology magazines.