The Chichester 1 machine room was powered off for the last time just after noon on Tuesday 19 July.
This room was being set up in 1990 when the Computing Centre moved out of Pevensey 3 (then MAPS III) to make way for the new School of Cognitive Science (now Informatics). Although the room’s 21 years of service are considerably longer than expected when it was designed, the room has seen substantial investment over the years. First it contained large cabinet computers, then rows of deskside towers with consoles on top of them. In its last incarnation, there were 40 or so sets of rack-mounted servers and barely a computer screen in sight.
The amount of heat generated by the room grew hugely over this time, with three large floor-to-ceiling air handlers barely able to keep the room at an acceptable temperature. Power protection evolved too. From practically nothing in the early days, a mix of deskside and rack mounted UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) units were introduced, culminating in a full room-wide system. This initially offered over an hour’s protection and was upgraded as more equipment was added. “Non-critical” systems were later dropped to cope with further increases in computing power and at the end, the UPS was only capable of protecting the critical systems for just under 30 minutes.
Now that we have moved out of the room (again to make way for Informatics!), most services have been transferred to the new Shawcross data centre, with smaller back-up locations elsewhere on campus. The Shawcross data centre, though smaller than Chichester, can accommodate well over twice as much IT equipment, with efficient cooling mechanisms and all the necessary power and data connections. All of the power used by IT equipment in the room is protected by UPS and a generator, providing up to three days of independent operation in the event of a supply failure.