University of Sussex



Sussex, UK

Completion Date



Higher Education


The University of Sussex was the first of the new wave of universities founded in the 1960s, receiving its Royal Charter in August 1961. Nearly 50 years on, the University has become a leading teaching and research institution. In the 2010 Times Higher Education magazine’s World University Rankings, Sussex is ranked 8th in the UK, 16th in Europe and 79th in the world, setting it alongside some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. It has over 2,200 staff, including around 550 teaching faculty, and a 280 staff research faculty.

The Challenges

With the existing campus data centre running out of: space; power; and cooling, the University of Sussex had kicked off a project to build a new data centre. The University wanted the new data centre to provide a green, energy-efficient, and value‐for‐money IT solution that improved on the existing data centre’s Power Utilisation Efficiency (PUE) rating of 3.35. The new data centre would be housed in the historic Shawcross building, designed by Sir Basil Spence; and so the University wanted to ensure that the data centre solution would be innovative, yet sympathetic to its listed building environment.

When the University approached PTS Consulting (PTS), the project had been running for a year and an indicative design had already been drawn up for the client. PTS was engaged to conduct an independent review of the RIBA Stage D design, to ensure that it was fully aligned with the University’s requirements before entering the procurement and implementation phases.

PTS Solutions

Design Targets: PTS started with an objective analysis of the University’s key needs for the new data centre. To allow for future growth, the University wanted a new 25 rack data centre with an expansion capacity of 5 racks and a target PUE of 1.4.

The initial design was to allow for 200kW of IT load, with expansion to an IT load of 350kW. The new data centre needed to be built to allow the average density and efficiency in the data centre to increase over time, without interrupting the power, cooling and hence continuous operation of the existing IT systems.

Statement of Requirements: PTS then compiled a comprehensive Statement of Requirements (SoR), factoring in the IT Department’s solution requirements. Following acceptance of the new SoR by the University, it was then used to lead the tender documentation.

Data Centre Procurement: On behalf of the University, PTS managed a competitive tender response process to help assess those solutions that were available on the market that would meet the client’s requirements. PTS used its in‐house ranking tool to appraise and rate all the suppliers’ responses according to the SoR. From this weighting and analysis, PTS was able to make a recommendation to the client on the selection of a supplier for the design and build of the new data centre solution.

Data Centre Implementation: Once the solution had been selected, PTS was retained by the University as a trusted advisor to provide independent witness testing, working alongside the University’s IT department to fulfil delivery of the new system to specification. PTS also provided guidance and support to the University during various change and verification processes, including a mid‐term technical audit by the University’s external auditor. To ensure that the data centre met all aspects of the SoR, PTS co‐ordinated the Test and Commissioning processes and plans with the data centre contractor, and the University departments including the primary user, ITS. This approach ensured that there was a focus throughout the commissioning and testing phases. PTS, working with the construction contractor, confirmed via full load testing, that the new data centre could even better the original PUE target of 1.4, to reach a PUE of 1.33.


The Results

Having PTS as the University’s IT and data centre technology partner throughout the design, procurement and implementation phases ensured that the data centre project realised its objectives of innovation, value for money and energy efficiency.

The key things delivered to the University included:

  • An objective review of RIBA Stage D Data Centre design
  • A detailed compilation of Statement of Requirements
  • Competitive tender response evaluation and recommendations
  • Independent witness testing, advice and guidance throughout the implementation
  • Completion of new on-site Data Centre with a total capacity for 30 racks and 350Kw
  • Efficient use of power and cooling to achieve a PUE of 1.33

Iain Stinson, Director of IT Services at the University of Sussex commented:

“We are delighted with the support we received from the PTS consultant during the project to provide our new data centre. He helped us to develop and articulate our user requirements by bringing a wider knowledge and experience of modern data centres (in particular in the area of energy efficiency) to our in‐house team. As a member of our project team, he made significant contributions to every stage of the project (supplier evaluation, review and agreement of the design, oversight of the construction and acceptance) and ensured that a clear path was followed to successful completion. The consultant developed good working relationships with the project manager, other consultants employed by our Estates department, staff from our Estates department, Future Tech and their subcontractors and our own colleagues in Information Technology Services. PTS has made a major contribution to the success of our new data centre.”

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