Butrovich Data Center upgrade complete

Between May 14 and May 22, a team of engineers, technicians and electricians successfully performed a major upgrade to the power feeding the Butrovich Data Center.

The weeklong effort connected the data center to a new 800-kilowatt diesel generator. It also allowed the team to replace the main power supply breakers and update major components inside the battery backup system. The generator was tested in various scenarios on Saturday, May 22, and successfully made power transfers from utility to generator and back three times.  

Table with a large battery and components.
Replacing major electrical components that are nearly 40 years old takes a lot of time and precise engineering. The team had its first activity in August 2019 to create an as-built drawing of the old gear and work through the engineering and manufacturing of the new large breakers. A typical residential electrical breaker is rated for 100-amps but the ones serving the data center are rated at 2,000 amps. Photo courtesy of the UAF Division and Design and Construction.

This project is a culmination of nearly six years of planning and two years of construction.  Originally conceptualized as a backup generator for UAF’s critical research missions in the Elvey Building, the project morphed into a larger project to back up the entire university data system in Butrovich to ensure continuity of business for all of UA’s missions. With the new systems installed, the data center and all IT users at the university have a new layer of resiliency.

The team effort of UAF Facilities Services Division of Design and Construction, OIT Infrastructure and Cloud Services/Data Center Operations, and myriad contractors and consulting engineers from across the country helped make this project a success. The project team is thankful for the high level of support of our UAF research partners, data center customers, and both UAF’s and the System office’s administrations to help the project succeed.