The 10th anniversary of Colruyt Group data centres
Colruyt Group took two new, self-built data centres into use ten years ago. Christophe and Marc from Colruyt Group IT were involved from the very beginning. That makes them the perfect people to talk about the added value of our own data centres!
What exactly is a data centre?
Christophe: “You can look at our data centres as the brain of our company. They contain all the IT systems which support the various brands within our group. The focus lies on connectivity: we do not only connect different IT systems, the data centres are also connected to our office buildings, distribution centres and shops. And between them, they are interconnected with hundreds of fibre-optic cables. This is to ensure that no bottlenecks occur in the data traffic.”
Building your own data centre, is that unique?
Marc: “We increasingly see companies outsourcing their data centres. Colruyt Group made the conscious choice of designing and building their own new data centres. It ensures that the infrastructure is tailored to the company's needs. Both Christophe and I were part of the initial project back in the day, and because we can rely on the in-house expertise of the group, the quality of our services is always guaranteed.”
What did it involve?
Marc: “Building new data centres allowed us to start with a clean slate and take best practices from the field. An essential foundation for IT infrastructure? Scalability. We want to anticipate and evolve with new technologies. Now we have everything we need to support the different technologies in Colruyt Group's diverse IT landscape: from Mainframe over Linux to Windows servers.”
Christophe: “One example: ten years ago, hardly anyone talked about the cloud. However, we managed to adapt our systems well to this development. Meanwhile, we also have a lot of cloud applications and our data centres are directly connected to the internet. We are not dependent on third parties and, in function of the right solution, we can opt for tools in the cloud or our own data centres with more computing power. It means we are now moving towards a hybrid cloud environment.”
What are some other advantages of having your own data centre?
Marc: “Centralisation of all our IT systems: this is not only cost-efficient, it also allows us to do business more sustainably. Our data centres are designed with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind.”
Sustainable data centres, what does that look like?
Christophe: “More efficient cooling is an important aspect: we keep cold and hot air flows physically separated. And we don't use water to keep our infrastructure at the right temperature. The water stays in a closed circuit. That's how we do free-cooling.”
Marc: “With our efficient configurations, systems only run when they have to. The energy our data centres consumes is green electricity, generated by our own wind turbines and solar panels. To monitor energy consumption closely, we have set up certain KPIs. If those indicators are not met, we know it is time for action.”