Edge Computing Power and Rack Infrastructure Help Swedish School System Boost Uptime and Reduce Support Costs

According to the US News and World Report’s “Best Quality of Life 2019” ranking of nations around the globe, the country of Sweden comes in at #2 (just behind Canada). One of the key drivers behind Sweden’s success is a modern education system.

Most Swedish schools are interconnected with fiber optics for high bandwidth and easy access to the Internet. Teachers rely on web-based teaching tools. Students use laptops and iPads on a daily basis. School staff members depend on IP phones for basic communication. This is a global trend.

SISAB (Skolfastigheter I Stockholm AB) is the organization that owns and manages most of Stockholm city school and preschool facilities, including 2500 buildings (600 properties) that host approximately 200,000 children and adults daily. The quality of education delivered in those buildings often depends upon the resilience and performance of the edge computing systems that help serve as a mechanism for learning.

From “traditional classroom” to “digital classroom”

Today, Stockholm’s students cannot proceed with their school work without information technology. Downtime disrupts the learning of the students as many of the tools they use are interconnected. In order to secure stable access to the internet and functioning communication – also in case of disruptions to the information systems – SISAB decided to modernize the IT-equipment and systems in their edge computing facilities to a standardized, secure and reliable solution, says Mats Carlqvist at SISAB.

Recognizing this, SISAB approached APC by Schneider Electric (APC), via their technology partner, Örnsberg's El & Data, SISAB's service and installation partner for 15 years, to provide the schools with a solution that would fortify their edge computing facilities. Systems at the schools were located in the basements of the school buildings. SISAB management required a secure, reliable solution that could provide school administrators with more uptime certainty. If a disruption to the information systems occurred, an assurance was needed that students could continue to learn and that classrooms would continue to operate.

As an existing Schneider Electric customer (SISAB currently uses Schneider Electric Building Management Systems-BMS), SISAB was looking for a partner who could help them to modernize and to become more leading edge through their deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Overcoming infrastructure challenges and unnecessarily high costs

The schools in the Stockholm city district were utilizing antiquated Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) in their basement IT rooms. As a result, technicians had to be sent out on a regular basis in response to errors and alarms due to bad or expiring batteries within the UPS units. This meant technicians had to spend a considerable amount of time travelling from site to site in order to properly maintain these units across the region.

The 120 IT rooms were characterized by an assortment of equipment which included communications switches, routers, BMS-servers, stand-alone UPS system and open-faced racks to name a few. None of these assets were centralized, and some of the equipment simply hung on walls.

SISAB wanted to modernize their IT equipment sites in a number of ways. First, they wanted their IT assets locked and installed in one secure cabinet. Second, in order to improve system uptime, they wanted a UPS solution that could guarantee them better battery performance and a longer lifetime. Third, they wanted the ability to control rack power switches remotely, in order to avoid the time and expense of sending out service technicians to manually reboot a switch that takes less than 5 minutes to fix.

APC by Schneider Electric solution provides the secure, reliable technology

As a leading provider of edge computing power, environmental, and rack equipment, APC proposed a solution that included Smart UPS Lithium Ion UPSs, NetShelter enclosures, and Smart Rack Power Distribution Units (PDUs) across all 120 of the IT room sites.

This solution provided the building management team with a number of significant benefits:

  • Support simplification through standardization – By making sure that each site was equipped with identical rack, UPS, and PDU equipment, SISAB made it much easier for service personnel to know what to expect when a service call was made. The process of ordering spare or replacement parts became quick and easy, and the service people experienced less stress as they became quickly familiar with the nature of the installations across the region.
  • Remote monitoring capability – The intelligent PDUs allowed for remote reboot of systems. In this way, the service person could simply reinitiate the system remotely. This saved hours of traveling back and forth in heavy traffic from site to site.
  • Enhanced Security – As opposed to having equipment distributed across the IT room in a haphazard fashion, the IT and networking systems are now centralized and housed in one secure rack within a locked room. Only authorized personnel are granted entry. This has helped to reduce instances of human error.
  • Improved systems availability/uptime – The new Smart-UPS power protection devices came equipped with lithium-Ion batteries. Compared to the traditional UPS units, the new UPS and batteries came with a long warranty period (5 years) and a longer expected lifecycle (8-10 years). As a result, fewer technicians will be dispatched to replace batteries, backup runtimes will increase (minimizing the impact of any power glitches) and less footprint is required within the secure IT cabinet. There are also temperature and humidity sensors that check and communicate the environmental conditions in the small data room, so that unanticipated downtime due to excessive humidity or temperature fluctuations is avoided.

This will significantly reduce our response time and the costs involved in sending out technicians for restarting equipment,”says Stefan at Örnsbergs El & Data.

As a result of the deployment of their new edge computing system infrastructure, SISAB administrators can now rest assured that students, teachers and staff can access the information they need, when they need it, without disruption.

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