Major North American insurance company chooses ABB Decathlon to manage multiple data centers from a single location

Decathlon for Data Centers enables insurer to integrate a wide variety of applications to track assets and manage building systems, power and server communications with real-time data

CARY, N.C., June 9, 2015 ABB today announced that one of North America’s major insurance companies has chosen ABB Decathlon for Data Centers to manage all building, power and IT systems at five of its data centers. An industry-leading provider of personal and commercial insurance, this customer operates one of the world’s most extensive private virtual computer networks.

Over the next four years, the insurer will install ABB Decathlon to optimize data centers that will account for more than 20 megawatts of energy. The five data centers will take advantage of the full comprehensive scope of Decathlon’s data center infrastructure management (DCIM) capabilities, integrating Decathlon with building and power management systems, IT applications, capacity planning tools, server communications via an intelligent platform management interface (IPMI) and asset tracking—all with real-time data access through a single user interface.

A better understanding of operations across multiple data centers

From a business standpoint, the customer’s leadership team anticipates the Decathlon implementation will improve their understanding of day-to-day operations and capacity planning, allowing them to extend the life of their existing data centers before having to build new ones. They also anticipate lowering operational costs by improving their energy and HVAC efficiency.

In its IT operations, the insurer will gain new levels of visibility and comprehensive integration of applications.

“The customer’s technology team wanted a DCIM solution that spanned multiple data centers with the ability to monitor hundreds of thousands of points from a single pane of glass,” said ABB Decathlon for Data Centers Specialist Eric Olson. “As an open platform, Decathlon’s capability to interface with a wide variety of applications was critical to their needs. They asked us to run a proof of concept to validate its capabilities, which then led to a pilot installation that verified Decathlon’s scalability. Successful results led to its selection to manage five of the customer’s data centers.”

“During the pilot phase, we discovered that the customer was using more capacity than expected,” said ABB North America Business Manager for Data Center Automation Richard Ungar. “Insight from Decathlon will allow the organization to right-size its power distribution and rack capacity. They now are able to identify ‘comatose’ servers based on load performance readings,” explained Ungar.

Operational planning with real-time power data

With Decathlon’s integration of Nlyte asset management software, the insurer will be able to plan and provision racks based on the actual power consumption per rack. Typically, manufacturers provide exceptionally conservative, worst-case power capacity ratings for their servers that data center administrators “de-rate” to an estimated figure representing the expected power draw—the capacity that the center may not exceed. With Decathlon, data center staff can work with actual, real-time power usage information.

The insurer will gain a number of additional benefits as well:


    · A more streamlined workflow process to provide improved cycle times for moves, adds and changes

    · Improved environmental controls by having a better understanding of rack and server temperatures and server fan speeds

    · Increased rate of change to improve data center capacity because of greater confidence in accurate asset, power and environmental data

    · Improved management of server maintenance contracts, ensuring they are up to date


The customer also is gaining the capability for an improved, real-time understanding of its IT assets and their locations. Decathlon accesses RFID sensors to monitor rack temperature and humidity, as well as tracks the physical location of each item, even when devices are moved around the data center. “With Decathlon, the customer acquires a more complete and detailed picture of what IT assets it has and where they are, of their electrical usage at the IT level, of cooling efficiency, of capacity planning, of maintaining the data so it does not get out of date and of improved methods for initiating IT changes,” Ungar said.

Slashing weeks of work to just minutes

A key reason the insurer chose ABB as a collaborative partner was to make use of ABB’s expertise in providing support services. One example of this was evidenced when the insurer needed a way to quickly map the connection between breakers in its power management system and the rack power-distribution units fed by them. ABB created a solution that automated this task, taking information from more than 100 of the insurer’s spreadsheets to generate connections within Decathlon to more than 20,000 breakers. What otherwise would have taken weeks to create now takes minutes.

The customer’s implementation of Decathlon began in April 2015 in a 1 MW facility. Installations will be carried out in subsequent data centers starting later this year and throughout the next few years.

“ABB Decathlon for Data Centers will provide our customer an improved understanding of its day-to-day operations and capacity planning,” Olson said, “This is intended to allow the customer to more accurately predict the impact of new technologies—such as the Internet of Things—on its data center capacity so that it can keep ahead of the growth curve.”

ABB Decathlon for Data Centers is recognized by leading industry research firms as a key data center infrastructure management offering and was included in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Data Center Infrastructure Management Tools. Decathlon for Data Centers also was included as a key DCIM supplier in 451 Research’s May 2015 DCIM and DCSO: Supplier and Positioning Update.

About ABB Decathlon

ABB Decathlon (www.abb.com/decathlon-datacenters), built on an open platform design, provides the tools to manage a flexible network of power, cooling and IT systems for maximum reliability, energy efficiency and optimal utilization of all data center assets. It is part of ABB’s broad portfolio of integrated solutions, products and services, from power supply and distribution systems to enterprise management and grid connections.

About ABB

ABB (www.abb.com) is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility, industry, and transport and infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 140,000 people. The company has invested heavily in North America over the past three years, with acquisitions totaling nearly $10 billion. ABB employs around 30,000 throughout the region.

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