A future-proof, high-availability data centre for Swiss railway operator SOB
Meyer Werft, a shipyard based in Papenburg, northern Germany, is one of the world’s leading builders of luxury passenger ships. It was founded in 1795, and has manufactured state-of-the-art cruise liners for over 25 years. Meyer Werft recently completed its largest ever vessel, Norwegian Joy, which is thought to be the fourth largest passenger ship in the world. Powerful IT systems ensure its over 4,000 passengers and approximately 2,000 crew sail in safety and comfort. Rittal provided future-proof infrastructure for the two on-board data centres.
Frank Langen, from the technical design department at Meyer Werft
Incorporating data centres is just one of many challenges in shipbuilding, and requires specialist knowledge. Typically, space for large IT equipment is at a premium on passenger ships. In addition, maintenance and repairs are difficult to perform during a voyage. In case components fail while the vessel is on the open water, they need to be easily replaceable. Moreover, it is advantageous if the IT vendor offers support services in ports-of-call. A number of other aspects must also be taken into account. Marine diesel engines constantly generate vibrations – consequently, IT racks must be equipped with special rubber mounts. As cruises transverse multiple regions there can be extreme variations in temperature and humidity. And a crew of 2,000 calls for sophisticated access control systems. Plus, corresponding infrastructure, such as power supply and cooling, should be redundant to ensure high availability.
Planning for a large-scale project of this kind begins many years in advance. Key challenges include making best use of space – plus independent operation of the data centres, and their management and maintenance by an on-board team of service engineers. As a ship will sail for many years, it requires high-quality, long-lasting IT components. Additional factors are flexibility, scalability, and easy-to-replace IT modules, as ships are often later refitted for new destinations. A high degree of standardisation is therefore essential, in order to quickly and simply integrate server racks, and power supply and cooling units.
Norwegian Joy has two data centres. These are separated by a significant distance, and are located in different fire zones. They employ a conventional cooling solution, and have up to ten TS IT racks from Rittal. These racks have solid panels that lack ventilation holes; instead, LCP (Liquid Cooling Package) units with an output of up to 30 kW ensure adequate climate control. The LCPs are mounted on the side panels of the racks. As a result, warm air from the servers can be cooled directly. The entire system is highly efficient, and the ship’s own chillers supply sufficient cold water. Moreover, ample spare data-centre resources were incorporated should the ship sail to new ports-of-call or serve other target groups in the future.
Rittal offers a worldwide guarantee on its components for the ship’s data centres. It also provides global support should maintenance be required, including delivery of spare parts.