Over the last five years, EfficiencyIT has been in a privileged position to work alongside the data centre management team at the Wellcome Sanger Institute; one of the country’s leading scientific research facilities.
Based in Cambridge, the Institute is a world leader in the field of genomic discovery. Since 1993, it has been dedicated to medical research using data derived from genomic sequencing delivering advances in the areas of cancer, malaria, and other pathogens.
For the past two years, it has also been at the forefront of scientific efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. It is part of the Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, a partnership of NHS organisations, the four Public Health Agencies in the UK and several other academic institutions who have come together to deliver rapid, large-scale whole-genome virus sequencing to local health centres and the Government.
The Institute is sequencing the genomes of tens of thousands of coronavirus samples taken from people throughout the UK, using its statistical and computational expertise to analyse those genomes and detect new variants of the virus. Its output is closely integrated with public health authorities to develop the overall national campaign to combat the virus, using the best possible scientific information to develop optimal responses.
Essential to the work of the Institute is the computational power necessary to carry out the massive calculations necessary for genome sequencing. Its DNA sequencing machines, comprising numerous complex and advanced scientific instruments, generate vast amounts of data that must then be analysed. The nature of genomic research generates enormous amounts of data. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, genomic data was projected to become the biggest source of data on the planet. The global effort to combat the virus has only exacerbated this trend.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute operates an onsite data centre at its Cambridge headquarters to process the genomic data generated by its sequencing machines. Given the bandwidth and latency requirements of the high volume and velocity of genomic data, performing calculations over the cloud from a remote site would be impractical.
Another essential requirement is system availability and resilience. Should the power supply to the sequencing machines fail, the chemicals used in the process would have to be replaced at significant cost and there would be additional cost penalties caused by downtime and loss of data.
As with any scientific research organisation, operational efficiency and value for money is a constant requirement. Simply put, any money saved on IT equipment, the attendant physical infrastructure and the operation of both releases more funding for key scientific research.
Efficiency IT has provided the Wellcome Sanger Institute with key technology and infrastructure to help in the achievement of all these goals. When the Institute recently made operational a fourth data hall, comprising more than 400 racks and consuming 4MW of power, EIT was able to recommend the deployment of Schneider Electric’s world-leading EcoStruxure IT Expert Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software as the best course of action for monitoring and managing the centre’s key infrastructure assets.
EcoStruxure IT Expert is a cloud-based scalable software system that provides technical managers with the insights to manage assets such as racks, power-distribution units (PDUs), uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and cooling equipment regardless of vendor. It makes use of intelligent data analytics to gain deeper insights into the operation of vital equipment for better and more efficient management. It allows for more targeted and efficient maintenance schedules and alerts management to any unexpected issues so that they may be resolved quickly before they cause problems.
To guard the sequencing machines against downtime EIT also installed ultra-reliable UPS systems from Schneider Electric, namely the Smart-UPS models, which provide battery backup in the event of a mains power disruption.
More recently, EIT also supported the Institute with an additional project to upgrade its power infrastructure with the deployment of more than 300 custom-designed electric rack PDU metering systems to provide greater insight and visibility into the data centre’s power usage and to reduce energy consumption.
EIT is proud to be able to contribute to the vital work of such a world-renowned research organisation as the Wellcome Sanger Institute, especially as it plays such a key role in humankind’s fight against the global pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus.
We are also thrilled to see that our efforts have received endorsement from our own industry as we have been shortlisted for a DCS Award in the category of ‘Data Centre Consolidation/Upgrade/Refresh Project of the Year” for our work at the Institute.
To vote for EfficiencyIT to win this award, please visit the website https://dcsawards.com/vote
Keep up with EIT via social media at @EfficiencyIT
Specialising in edge computing environments, cloud transformation and mission-critical IT solutions, EfficiencyIT (EIT) was borne from the ideals of a like-minded group of individuals who saw the data centre and IT landscape changing dramatically. Today our customers are responsible for some of the most critical technology operations in the world and our mission is to empower them to innovate and to relentlessly support their business objectives by underpinning them with efficient, forward-thinking, digital infrastructure.
Partnered with Schneider Electric, Microsoft, Mimecast and Cisco, we continue to challenge the status quo of what is acceptable versus what is achievable, within traditional data centre and IT infrastructures. #BornEfficient