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Huawei Modular Data Center Helps Tencent Business Boom

14.9.2016 0:00:00


Founded in 1998, Tencent has grown into one of the world’s most popular Internet service portals, registering one billion users by the end of 2012. This increasing popularity demands corresponding growth in the company’s ICT infrastructure as users adopt Tencent services in the worlds of texting (WeChat), instant messaging (QQ), social networking (Qzone), mobile games (QQ Games), and on-line payment (Tenpay).
Operating such a large ICT infrastructure demands deep pockets. Tencent spent USD $324 million on Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expenses in the first half of 2013 alone, which explains why the company had an eye on its bottom line as it looked to expand.


To roll out a planned data center in Tianjin — the largest in Asia with over 100 petabytes of storage capacity and 200,000 servers — management required improvements in three areas to save on expenditures:
  • Speed of deployment (within three months, whereas traditional data centers require up to 600 days)
  • Standardized design
  • Energy efficiency
The Tianjin project was divided into two phases. In the first phase, completed in 2010, traditional construction methods were used to set up centralized power distribution and cooling, and an underfloor flow.
In the second phase, Modular Data Centers (MDCs) were deployed in batches. Each module is integrated with independent chilled water in-row air conditioning, a power distribution unit, and batteries.


Tencent’s first half of 2013 Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expense of USD $324 million highlighted their need for data center cost control. For their newest rollout, Tencent, relying on Huawei’s expertise, purchased a solution designed to improve upon a number of key data center industry cost factors:
  • Short deployment cycle: Construction periods for conventional data centers have been known to require up to 600 days until completion, with the added exposure of large Capital Expense (CAPEX) disbursements. Huawei’s IDS series MDCs were successfully installed within three months.
  • Standard design: Unique, one-of-a-kind designs are a prime factor in long and expensive data center deployment cycles. The Huawei IDS series is based on pre-defined components that are designed to save time and money.
  • Energy efficiency: The energy efficiency of data center equipment rooms is traditionally very low, with Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) measurements reading higher than 2.0 (1.0 is optimal). The Huawei IDS series achieves a PUE factor of 1.5.
Construction of MDCs in the second phase has the following distinctions:
  • Integrated distributed deployment: Batch copy and on-demand expansion.
  • Three rooms in one: The UPS and battery, air conditioner, and IT equipment rooms are integrated into an Internet Data Center (IDC) infrastructure. It takes only 13 weeks from placing orders for 20 modules to delivery. The rapid IDC deployment capability matches the rapid development of Tencent’s business.
  • Smart modules decoupled from civil engineering: One plan, phased investment, and rapid deployment.
Civil engineering is decoupled from Information Technology (IT) construction. Construction of the building and water and electricity supply is completed at once and the modular data centers are deployed flexibly on demand.
Internal Components
  • The components of an MDC are standard products and have reserved interfaces. They can be quickly manufactured, shipped, and installed, effectively increasing Return On Investment (ROI) and cutting CAPEX by 10 percent.
Life Cycle
  • Data centers have a life cycle of 10 to 15 years. When future servers need configuration changes, smart modules only need to flexibly adjust the ratio of internal power distribution to cooling for future usability.
  • The MDC uses contained hot aisle to isolate hot and cold air. The in-row air conditioner uses closely coupled cooling and heat transfer, eliminating local hot spots and significantly increasing cooling efficiency. On-site testing shows that the PUE is as low as 1.5 and that OPEX is lowered by 35 percent to 40 percent.
Smart Management Architecture
  • Each smart module has a touchscreen (with an independent NetEco intelligent management system) that is connected to a switch for monitoring management of the home module. The smart module provides a northbound SNMP interface for smart module cluster management. The touchscreen displays operations clearly, significantly improving O&M efficiency.


The Huawei IDS2000 Modular Data Center (MDC) solution provided answers in each of these areas. First, all of the MDC’s components are prefabricated and pre-tested in the factory, significantly reducing construction time and the risk of accident. Such a design also allows for easy expansion and upgrades — a significant advantage for a company like Tencent, where the scale of expansion can be both exponential and highly unpredictable.
In addition, Huawei’s standardized cabinet design allows the high-density, multi-node Huawei X6000 server (only 2U high) to be installed within a matter of minutes, meaning that replacement of failed units, as well as provisioning of new ones, is simple and speedy. (Redundancy in key systems such as distribution and cooling also means that, if one should fail, the rest remain operational.)
On the energy efficiency front, the design of the cooling system isolates the cold front aisle from the hot rear one and optimizes the forced airflow provided from the cooling containers. As a result, the MDC solution achieves a PUE rating of 1.5, allowing Tencent to reduce both OPEX and CAPEX by significant margins of 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
With its defining data center development and modular architecture, Huawei’s pre-fabricated IDS solution allows for the installation of rack modules simultaneously with the construction of the data center facility itself monitoring management of the home module. Significantly increasing cooling efficient network communication interfaces provide flexibility for future expansion. The benefits for Tencent include the following:
  • Lower TCO: High-density deployment has reduced the equipment footprint by 50 percent and power consumption by 15 percent, which has slashed the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by USD $15.7 million annually.
  • Minimal failure rates: Optimal server selection, configuration, and testing allow for simpler O&M and less product failures. Carrier-class components, excellent design, and advanced manufacturing processes have reduced the possibility of batch faults.
  • Higher deployment efficiency and management: The time required for deploying 20 servers in a rack is reduced from 5 hours to 10 minutes. Huawei servers support automatic fault detection and reporting to facilitate O&M.
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