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Data Centre Build: Power Distribution

Posted Tuesday 24th Sep, 2013 by


In past posts I've described our data centre as being Tier 3+ 2N and the arrival of our transformer gives me the perfect opportunity to fully explain what 2N means.

2N relates to our chosen power management setup for the data centre. Simply put, N is the amount of power and distribution required to run our data centre to its full potential. Our data centre is 2N meaning we have 2x the amount of power and distribution required to fully operate, with this setup up to half (1N) of our equipment can fail without causing disruption to service.

The diagram below shows the power flow in the event of hardware failure at different stages of the power chain.

Main Power Supply

Our power management system is powered by electricity direct from the national grid. In the event of a power cut our generators will automatically boot up.


Should mains power fail our generators are capable of powering the data centre at full load for up to 48 hours.


A power distribution unit (PDU) is a device that feeds the power directly to our servers. As part of our 2N power management each server in our data centre is dual fed by two separate PDU’s.


This power management setup will power a total of 120 high density cabinets, each with 30 high-end servers.

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Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. Im gonna watch out for Brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

Hi Alex - We used 3d software called ‘C4D’ and video software called ‘Adobe After Effects’.

Hi Aliysa,

what kind of software to you use for the drawing?

Thanks, Alex

Hi Alysa, thank you for sharing this animation diagram! its cool,.,

Thank you for your post!

Thanks, good to know.

No problem David. That’s a far more creative use of unwanted heat! It’s not very practical for us, we’re struggling to keep the 2 chilli plants we have going :)

Thanks.  I know of a data centre which uses the unwanted heat to heat a greenhouse which grows tomatoes that it then sells!

Hi David -  No problem happy to give you insight into our build. It starts at the server level where we use energy efficient servers, which we then replace every 3 years to give us the maximum performance for the power we consume. On the cooling side we use digital scroll compressors and cold aisle containment (we will be giving more information about this in later posts). We plan to use the unwanted heat from the DC to heat our office space directly above, the exacts details for this are not yet in place. 

I hope this is of some help.

Having just written a book on energy management in industry with a whole chapter on data centres I would be interested to know how you are minimising energy use and whether you have a strategy for dealing with your unwanted heat.

“120 high density cabinets, each with 30 high-end servers.” - I bet that cost a fair old amount :)