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Career Episode Reflection: Power Assessment And Design For Migration Of Telenor Islamabad Data Centre

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Telenor Pakistan telecommunication is now one the leading major telecom service providers in Pakistan, as of 2017 Telenor Pakistan leads the market with the 2nd largest share of mobile users. To achieve its Go Green energy targets of reducing its carbon footprint, Telenor Pakistan planned to reduce its overall energy consumption by minimizing the number of data Centre’s it operated in its network. With that specific goal, two locations that where the data centre I9 and I10 were selected to undergo consolidation.

Telenor Pakistan has an in-house Power planning department which leads the design, planning and strategy for all energy and power related works in the organization for its massive infrastructure. Telenor Pakistan had decided that all design and assessment in terms of current and future energy demand, power infrastructure needs and equipment ordering for all power related entities tied to this project would be carried out by a member of this internal team. I had been selected for this task as an end-to-end design and assessment power planning engineer.

Telenor Pakistan had given me the role of power and energy engineer from Power planning department to lead all existing energy demand assessment, future data centre location power infrastructure design, on-site power engineer, and end-to-end energy assessment for this project. During this time period, a pinnacle part of the overall project was to ensure that as the company moved to reduce its number of data Centre’s that I would carry out necessary calculations and assessments to ensure that we achieve reduction of the overall energy consumption and subsequently carbon footprint.

The project was called Data Centre consolidation and migration. This involved identification of servers, equipment and power sources which would undergo migration from 1-10 to 1-9 data centre. To carry out this project detailed power consumption measurements of existing servers, future load projections for migrating equipment, 1-9 data centre existing load analysis and capability study for on-site power sources. Once all assessments and analysis would be completed, a detailed implementation plan was to be developed and required modifications to I-9 data centre power infrastructure was to be integrated into a new single line diagram.

The target of this project was to consolidate all servers and switching equipment of two data Centres into one location and construct a viable consolidated date centre with low operational cost while maintaining multiple redundant power paths to achieve lower operational costs and carbon footprint for Telenor Pakistan telecommunication network.

Organizational Chart

Statement of Duties:

  • Carry out data centre surveys to measure, record and catalogue different power entities at the location.
  • Carry out required electrical design works related to upgradation of the consolidated data centre to host the increase in power demand
  • Coordination with management, site teams and site facilities.
  • Correspondence emails and aligning meetings with different stakeholders.
  • Propose modifications of designs using CAD tools and Tile software for CFD calculations.
  • Prepared comments and align meetings with management, vendors and design consultant.
  • Overall project management
  • Prepare final report providing details of completed works, equipment utilized and status of commissioning to conclude activity and submit to sourcing department for invoicing.
  • Prepared final report of carbon footprint reduction.

Personal Engineering Activities

On the start of the project, I was provided the geographical locations, existing equipment layout and single line design (SLD) in AutoCAD of the electrical architecture of both I9 and I10 data centre locations. My very first job of this project involved multiple visits of both locations to carry out a systematic step by step, and system by system power infrastructure audit (PTA). Data was collected by load measurements of installed racks and servers (kw), number of deployed HVAC units (ton), record existing rectifier system capacities (Kw) and battery bank size (Ah) with associated available module capacities (W), confirm that provided SLD is accurate or has undergone some modification and finally the available power sources at a given location (i. e. Generator and Transformer capacities). This provided not just required details of deployed equipment but also gave insight into the current condition and reusability of existing power entities at both locations. Data was collected from existing log records, staff feedback and where needed assumptions and estimations were made after different working hours from weekdays to weekends to build an overall trend.

This PTA involved carrying out a complete electrical power system analysis (ETAP) which was done by measuring the equipment loads of individual servers, HVAC units and facilities on the site. The measurements were made using a HIOKI energy data logger MR8870, FLUKE T5-1000 electrical tester and HIOKI AC/DC clamp meter CM4374. These measurement tools were used to measure instantaneous power consumption and overall power variation over a given time. A vendor was also on-boarded to carry out a thermal imaging survey using a HIOKI 3460 thermal imaging camera to identify hotspots and cables which were being subject to high current or higher bend ratio leading to safety concerns. As the measurements were being conducted on live equipment, I ensured strict adherence to having an operational Residual Current Device (RCD) in the given electrical circuit and having appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) as per OHSAS 3007 standard document. In addition, information was extracted from the data centre infrastructure monitoring equipment (DCIM) related to heat dissipation of equipment (Kwh), battery backup hours (hrs) and transition time between sources.

Measurements and audit results were catalogued into system wise tables using Microsoft excel whereas I updated the existing electrical diagrams by utilizing ETAP-REVIT Autodesk software. Due to this approach I was able to develop an overview of the current infrastructure at both locations and identify any issues or potential safety concerns which would need to be addressed as we moved to restructure the datacenter.

Once I had catalogued the recorded information of servers and racks into a file, it was then floated to multiple concerned departments to official record their feedback and also secure tentative prospects of increase or decrease in power if the equipment is moved to either of the two locations. To ensure proper ownership of each domain I led the formation of cross functional team (CFT) by having point of contact (POC) being nominated from each concern department. The CFT was then to subsequently approve each phase of the project from technical design to financial aspects before it was to be presented to the management for approval.

In parallel to onsite visits, I developed a record file which would catalogue multiple key points over the last 12 months ranging from KWH consumption, fuel Liters consumption of Gensets, electricity bill and surge charge and rental costs of a given location. This file was then floated to concerned internal operations and related departments to gather information which I would then incorporated into the required business case development and identification of carbon footprint of a given location.

As we moved toward the design phase, the overall approach was to achieve power redundancy for a given data centre based on ANSI/TIA-942-B power infrastructure standard which incorporated having a multi-tier power topology or redundancy to effectively deal with a range of power failure scenarios or possibilities at a given level. To achieve the required standard of power infrastructure I moved to carry out required technical and commercial study in the following manner.

To achieve the required standard of power infrastructure I started the technical and commercial study of both locations to identify which would provide the best energy efficiency and reduction of operational costs. To do the required design work I utilized the collected information via the PTA in terms of an updated equipment load excel file to a revised Autodesk Revit file for the existing electrical infrastructure.

Using the accumulated feedback, I first mapped out expected increase in Kw load, its associated Heat load and HVAC cooling requirement for a given data centre. This information was primarily mapped onto the Tile flow software to simulate conditions and extract HVAC and cooling performance of current equipment. Furthermore, in parallel the following calculations were done for future HVAC requirement.

a. Current Server configuration – Amps: e. g. 3A, 54V (as per measurement on site using a clamp meter). This was then converted into Watts by using the P = VIb. Future expected increase due to migration or need of network: YWattsc. Precision cooling / HVAC requirement to manage heat load. Equipment operating at 75% capacity as per feedback from specific department. Operating capacity = 75%ii. Total final load (watts) = Current load (watts) + future load(wats).

Existing HVAC system capacity (BTU)> revised BTU (per hour) x future expansion margin (%).

  1. The HVAC capacity also had to include a redundant HVAC unit meaning (N+1) configuration. In case the HVAC system capacity is under-rated, then the HVAC capacity will be upgraded as per the following steps1. Total HVAC capacity = (Revised BTU (per hour) x future expansion margin (%)).
  2. Number of Precision units required = Total HVAC capacity (BTU) / precision unit capacity (BTU).
  3. Revised HVAC capacity = (Number of Precision units + 1) x Precision unit capacity (BTU).

Once final server/rack load with revised HVAC capacity are finalized, I then mapped the total load onto the existing power entities to check whether they would be able to support this increase or require upgradation. This was done according to the following methodology.

On conclusion of required rectifier capacity, server load and HVAC loading, the revised data centre load (kw) would then applied to on-site power sources to validate whether they can bear future increase of site load or they would require an upgrade. This calculation was done using the following methodology.

One key issue was identified by me during the design phase regarding the redundancy of HVAC units in case of a power failure. In preparation of upcoming equipment, I extract the current heat dissipation (Kwh) scenario using DCIM records and mapped future upcoming server equipment to white spaces on the Tile software to carry out computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Using the CFD calculation I observed that the time taken to reach the critical temperature limit of 27c as per Ashraf standard TC 9. 9 was significantly lesser than battery backup hours (hrs. ) making the battery system in effect redundant. To overcome this issue, I needed to develop an independent secondary power source for the HVAC units during an outage scenario. I introduced changes to the electrical distribution system at the low voltage (LV) panel in the data centre room by adding a secondary electrical path with a high temperature triggered ATS function to a diesel generator as per future HVAC load. This adaptation provided a redundant power source to support HVAC load during power outage scenario while the equipment was supported via the battery backup system, thereby providing the data centre room with valuable time to restore power. This overall reinforced the redundancy capability of the system as per TIA 942 standard.

This change was presented to the management with the required implications on costs and added benefits to the redundancy of the system. The management subsequently approved the revision and was incorporated into the design accordingly.

Once the feedback was provided by the site design department on the proposed power equipment upgrades, I prepared a complete consolidated technical power analysis for both locations. I then carried out the final comparative analysis of both locations where I was able to identify that the I-9 data could accommodate its current plus future proposed power loading with minimum required power equipment upgrades. This assessment would in turn allow for a quicker migration and would overall reduce the expected cost of consolidating the locations.

As the I9 data centre was identified as the future location for consolidation I then prepared the final updated electrical infrastructure drawings on the Autodesk Revit software which would then be used for the approval from the management. As I had to seek approval on design 2 categories of design were prepared in reference to the ANSI/TIA-942-B standard which were based on the following structure.

Tier 4 structure: which provided a higher redundancy of power sources by having dual sources of power from the power grid (i. e. high capacity transformers) from separate grid stations to secondary power sources (i. e. Generator system) by having a N+1 configuration. The main switching sub-station would even have a primary automated path and a redundant manual path in case of any failure. The servers and racks would be provided emergency backup via a battery backup system.

Tier 3 structure: This type of structure would only provide redundancy on the secondary power source (i. e. Generator system) by having a N+1 configuration. The remaining internal structure would remain the same. The only difference would be at the grid power source level as they would only be one primary transformer deployed at the location. i. It is to be noted, that the interpretation of the TIA-942-B standard changes as per actual on ground situation and requirements.

In addition to avoid additional costing I proposed utilization of power cables and panels from the data centre which was to undergo off-loading. This however led to the earlier utilization of panels instead of a simplified dismantling scope. To ensure that the power cables and panels could be shifted to I9 data centre within the project timeline, I secured migration timelines of each and every server in the project and prioritized equipment migration which were linked to power cables and panels selected for reuse.

In parallel to these activities I aligned the DWDM network teams as they would be providing the required network transport layer for migration. Once the complete information was available on all involved stakeholder, servers and racks migration plan, required activities and needed workforce, I utilized the Microsoft project manager software to develop a detailed step-wise PIP which was then subsequently approved by the project manager and communicated to internal teams.

I thereof prepared a complete technical summary and proposed infrastructure, summarized project implementation plan and commercial summary comparing viability, upgradation cost, migration cost and expected cost of operation of both locations. This information was consolidated into a detailed presentation which was initial floated to all CFT members for their feedback and approval. Once I had secured each team members approval I then presented our complete project to the management with the overall CFT for the final approval. The management team went through multiple detailed discussion sessions over sessions to compare to assess how was the final results reached for I9, the pros and cons of Tier 4 versus Tier 3 infrastructure and its impact in the future. The management.

Once I secured the required budgetary and project approval from the management, I carried out a project kick-off meeting with different teams which included the project management, network team, site design teamand associated vendors. I then formed a cross functional team with leads from each domain and handed off the project to the overall project manager for execution of the data centre consolidation project.

I then handed over the prepared project implementation plan, a complete set of documentation with respect to equipment upgradation plan, final future single line drawing and equipment distribution plan to the project management team. During the project execution I remained available to the teams to explain any documentation or plan in-case there any ambiguity or issue during the execution phase.

The overall project took 5 months of execution time during which my team and I remained available to support on ground implementation teams and resolve project issues. On completion of the overall project, I led a team to evaluate the overall actual impact on the I-9 data centre to evaluate increase in power loading and validate our initial proposed estimates of expected power consumption. Our final analysis on expected site load and its impact on operational cost, which when presented to the management showcased only a variation of less than 5% from our proposed numbers of operational expense which was within the expected variable threshold. The overall project was a deemed a success and thereof became a model for other data centre consolidation plans.


This project challenged me on my overall capability and capacity to not just tackle the enormity of the required technical understanding of different components needed in a data centre but also understand its financial impact in varying scenarios. Even though I had done similar small scale projects in the past this was the first occasion where I had the opportunity to lead the overall power assessment and evaluation of two entire data centres and develop a sound technical and financial plan for consolidation of a given data centre. As the project involved an in depth step-wise power equipment sizing and planning, I was able to further improve my technical understanding and their impact on the overall data centre. In parallel as I was leading the overall project proposal development I was able to learn the required technical approach to developing a data centre design, identifying key cost markers and prepare technical and financial comparison.

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