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KBC Banking & Insurance Opens Two Energy Efficient Data Centers in Central Europe

July 25
15:19 2011

Web HostingVeghel, the Netherlands – KBC Banking & Insurance, an originally Belgian financial group whose operations include retail banking, private banking, insurance, and the provision of services to both SMEs and major companies, has just opened two entirely new data centres in Hungary, built in partnership with data centre supplier Minkels and system integrator Simac. The data centres have floor areas of 2,000 m² per building, with the option of expansion to 3,000 m2 each, and a planned Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.3.

As a major banking and insurance firm, KBC has a considerable presence not only in the Belgian market, but also in Central Europe in particular. KBC has a total of 23 existing data centres housed in 18 separate office buildings, in various countries throughout Central Europe. KBC’s objective in building the two new data centres in Hungary is the energy-efficient consolidation of its Central European ICT infrastructure at a single location, including a fallback facility for redundancy purposes.

Data centre racks (standard + custom-made): 460 racks

KBC Global Services, the firm’s own ICT organisation, was in charge of the design process and construction management. The provision of the equipment required, which comprised the supply of 460 (custom-made) data centre racks and 20 Cold Corridors, was subsequently put out to tender, with a view to selecting the most suitable supplier. From a long list of eight European firms, data centre supplier Minkels was ultimately chosen to supply the 460 (custom-made) data centre racks and 20 energy efficient Minkels Cold Corridors. ‘The candidate selected was also to become our preferred supplier throughout Europe,’ says Barry Martens, Expert Systems Engineer at KBC’s ICT division, KBC Global Services, who bears responsibility for the bank’s data centre infrastructure. ‘It was therefore crucial to us that the supplier be capable of providing on-site services both in Hungary and in Belgium. Minkels is consequently now the standard for the whole of KBC.’ System integrator Simac was appointed for project management and the concept plus realisation of structured data cabling.

The two entirely new data centres arose on two separate sites in the Budapest region. Having just been made operational, the data centres both have floor areas of 4 x 500 square metres, with the option of expansion by a further 6 x 500 square metres each. The power capacity initially available at each data centre is 4 MW, with the potential of increasing to 9 MW. These are high-density values which are intended to facilitate equipment such as blade server technology.

Energy-efficient data centre

KBC has highly ambitious objectives in terms of energy efficiency – the building was designed to achieve a PUE of 1.3 at full load, which is a requirement for the latest generation of data centres. ‘KBC is keen to minimise its CO2 footprint,’ Mr Martens explains. ‘Reduced energy consumption is an important issue to us, and a PUE of 1.3 is both a feasible objective and extremely energy-efficient.’ In order to achieve a PUE of 1.3, KBC has not only installed energy-efficient Minkels Cold Corridors, but also air groups with a thermal wheel, and technical systems chosen especially for their high energy efficiency.

The housing of its Cisco switches was one of the greatest challenges that KBC faced.
B. Martens: ‘A lateral air outlet was required, while particularly high standards were applicable with regard to both cabling and energy efficiency in airflows. In this regard, Minkels’ engineers spent considerable time thinking along with us, before we ultimately opted for 64 custom-made Cisco switch racks.’

The initial migrations of ICT testing and acceptance systems commenced in June 2011. KBC expects to the complete migration of its ICT environment in Central Europe to have been completed by around the middle of 2013.

About KBC Banking & Insurance
With its origins in Belgium, KBC (www.kbc.com) is a financial group whose operations include retail banking, private banking, insurance, and the provision of services to both SMEs and major companies. The group is not only among Belgium’s Top 3, but is also a medium-sized European market player. KBC has a global workforce of over 54,000, of whom some 18,000 are employed in Belgium and the remaining 36,000 in Central Europe. This is a bank with a quite considerable history. While KBC itself was founded by means of a bank merger in 1998, the history of its merger partner, CERA Bank, dates back to the 19th century.

About Minkels
Minkels B.V. (www.minkels.com) is a European manufacturer of total solutions for data centre infrastructure, whose headquarters, R&D department and assembly lines are in the Netherlands (Veghel). The firm also has branches in the UK, Switzerland, Belgium and France. Minkels’ product portfolio is subdivided into cooling (Varicondition®), housing (Varicon®), and monitoring (Varicontrol®) solutions. The following are significant products in the Minkels portfolio: Data centre watercooling solutions (Varicondition H2O); hybrid cooling solutions, using both air and water; and Cold Corridor systems, which are used to segregate hot and cold air flows in the data centre.

As a data centre supplier, Minkels has a client base which comprises prominent organisations, including Swisscom (Switzerland), France Telecom (France), Radboud University Nijmegen and EvoSwitch data centre (the Netherlands), as well as De Persgroep media firm (Belgium). In view of the considerable knowledge and experience Minkels has acquired throughout the years in the field of data centre infrastructure solutions, it was also approached by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (EU-JRC) in 2008, to assist in the process of drafting the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres.

Minkels is a subsidiary of the Aegide Group (www.aegide-group.com), a major European player in the field of integrated development, manufacturing and marketing of high-quality housing solutions for the ICT and high tech OEM industries. Minkels also won the ‘Brabantse Economieprijs 2010’ last year. This prize, which is awarded once every three years, was set up by the Dutch Province of Noord-Brabant with the intention of applauding the efforts of successful companies who dare to invest in innovation and innovative products, thereby providing dynamism and economic growth.

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