De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek

De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek

We had issues with the old room, but we're in control again

Firm of solicitors De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek has had a new server room designed and built by ICTroom. The new room has a durable hot aisle and, thanks to a UPS and connection to an NSA, high uptime is assured. ICTroom took care of the project management as well as management of the subcontractors.

De Brauw is a premium full-service international firm of solicitors. De Brauw is a trusted advisor for a great many international companies established in the Netherlands and has offices in Amsterdam, Beijing, Brussels, London and New York. By working with local offices abroad, De Brauw offers first-rate solutions to complex international issues.

New serverroom in Amsterdam's Zuidas business district

Firm of solicitors De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek is established in The Rock, an impressive building situated in Amsterdam's Zuidas business district. Until recently the sixth floor was home to a server room with which the ICT department were not best pleased. Thus the fire extinguishing system was inadequate and the cooling frequently failed due to disruptions to the power supply. Neither was there any hot or cold aisles, as a result of which the cooling was less efficient. The firm decided to get two renowned parties on the market to prepare proposals, one for the renovation of the existing room and one for the building of a new server room. Michael Lugten, Team Manager ICT, says that selecting ICTroom was an easy decision. ‘Their proposal tied in better than any other with what we were looking for.’

Proposal tied in better than any other with what we were looking for

Crucial for business operations

It was decided to build a new room. Michael Lugten: ‘We gave ICTroom full control. They managed the parties involved, as well as our in-house engineers. For us it was breath of fresh air not to have to manage any subcontractors. ICTroom did away with all the hassle and took care of everything from start to finish. We have no experience when it comes to setting up a data centre, so it was particularly nice to be able to give full control to another party. I'm pleased we did so. It's turned out to be a great room.’

The server room is crucial for business operations. In the event of downtime, some six hundred staff would be sat twiddling their thumbs, including three hundred lawyers, and current cases would be on hold. Due to the requisite 24/7 uptime, a UPS was installed and a connection to an NSA was created. Lugten: ‘Now, all equipment in the server room remains operational. The unit itself is housed in the basement and belongs to the building. At first there was talk of a new field being built by the in-house engineer. ICTroom pressed him to carry out a measurement first. From this measurement it emerged that an extension was entirely unnecessary. We could link things up to the existing equipment. That made a huge difference to the costs.’

It was a breath of fresh air not to have to manage any subcontractors

Full control of cooling

The old computer room was connected to the cooling system of the building. That system is not redundant, which has led to a lot of faults in the past. Michael Lugten: ‘If the cooling cuts out in a small room, equipment will overheat very rapidly indeed. One of our requirements, therefore, was an independent cooling system. The new set-up features in-row cooling units installed in the racks, and thanks to a hot aisle the airflows are now kept separate. This has reduced energy consumption and we now have an environment that is pleasant to work in. The server room is located on the eleventh floor of what is a twenty-two-storey building. Consequently, the condensers that would normally be situated on the roof are on our floor housed in a shaft by means of which the building is ventilated. Thanks to a UPS and connection to an NSA, cooling is assured.’

"We had issues with the old room, but we're in control again"

Dry fire extinguishing system

‘We'd rather not have a wet fire extinguishing system in the server room’, says Michael Lugten. ‘Unfortunately, due to insurance reasons there needs to be a sprinkler system in each and every sealed room. Fortunately a great solution was found. A dry extinguishing system and a detection system have been installed. These would be the first to go off. In addition to these systems there is a double sprinkler unit for exceptional emergency cases. Only once two sprinklers go off will this system start spraying water. This means we have extra protection built in to protect the equipment.’

Working with the right attitude

Michael Lugten is full of praise for the way in which the project was implemented. ‘ICTroom don't fuss if surprises crop up. Thus during the demolition work a wall with an empty room unexpectedly appeared. I wanted rid of it, but that would have altered the building plan somewhat. ICTroom simply modified it and didn't make a fuss at all. No complaining, just making sure things work properly is their mindset. Very pragmatic. And I like that attitude. This extra space will come in handy, because we're now able to install an extra cabinet. Connecting things up was done in a trice; ICTroom turned out to have taken this into consideration. I saw extra connections and asked what they were for. “In case you ever want to extend. Then you can just install the equipment and connect it up”, was their answer. So that's what we'll be doing straight away.’

No complaining, just making sure things work. And I like that attitude

Silent environment

The server room was completed in line with the planning, and everything stayed within budget. Lugten: ‘The parties with whom ICTroom works were well selected. The subcontractors work remarkably neatly. I didn't have to worry about a thing. The server room was built in a quiet library and above the meeting centre to boot. Nonetheless, not for a second was I worried about mess or noise nuisance. Naturally it's impossible to dispense with these things completely, but anything that was genuinely noisy was shifted to during the weekend. The people we had in work very neatly. Rubbish was cleared the moment work was done. The server room was delivered clean and fully operational. All we had to do was move our stuff in.’

Not for a second was I worried about mess or noise nuisance


De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek signed a service contract for maintenance of crucial equipment and keeping the server room clean. Moreover, ICTroom installed a monitoring system to flag up incidents in good time. Staff from our own ICT department are on standby 24/7 and in the event of an incident they can enlist the help of ICTroom if need be. Lugten: ‘The first maintenance work has now been done. ICTroom's support organization gave us a courtesy call to make an appointment. The staff come in, do their job and then head off again. It all goes like clockwork. We're really pleased with the new server room.

Great to work with

‘It's not often that a data centre needs built’, Michael Lugten concludes, ‘but if the need arises again, I won't hesitate to call in ICTroom. I'd recommend them to anyone who has such a project in mind, and believe me, I'm not quick to make recommendations. Only if we're over the moon with something. ICTroom is capable of taking over the whole thing from start to finish. They did away with all the hassle. You don't have to worry about a thing, and you know that everything will turn out fine. Besides which they proved themselves to be exceedingly flexible when faced with surprises. No complaining, just sorting things out and making sure everything works. What's more, not only are they experts, they're also really nice people who are great to work with. That's not something you find every day.’