CLOUD COMPUTING FIRM Rackspace has cut the ribbon (quite literally) on a brand new UK data centre in the glamorous London suburb of Crawley in West Sussex.
The firm claims it to be the largest facility in the UK to use 'indirect outside air' cooling. It was officially opened on Wednesday, and The INQUIRER attended for a nosey while munching on a few celebratory canapés.
Developed alongside data centre and colocation provider Digital Realty Trust and designed to maximise compatibility and compliance with Open Compute Project standards, Rackspace's new facility was nothing but a field of mud and weeds 14 months ago.
However, fast forward a year and a bit and we have a 15-acre site with a 130,000 square foot data centre plonked in the middle that can accommodate 50,000 servers.
Rackspace said that the data centre is the "newest and most sustainable of its kind in the UK", and will help to meet the growing demand for managed cloud services across Europe.
But why build the facility in Crawley? This location was apparently chosen because getting power to it is easy, which Rackspace said is one of the "absolute critical" features of a data centre location.
"[It's a] good route for fibre which presents good opportunities to link fibre between other properties in the sector; a combination of power, fibre and cycle real estate with planning that allows us to develop a data centre," said the firm at the opening event.
But what makes this data centre special is that it is one of the first in the UK of this scale to use outside indirect air cooling technology, which reduces the energy and water required to keep the facility at optimal temperatures.
This indirect cooling technology means that the data centre doesn't use a lot of water, and takes advantage of the rainy environment in the UK as there's no mechanical or refrigerated cooling on the site. It's all done with ambient air.
"We are using indirect air cooling technology, so essentially it's an ‘all-air' system which takes the outside air and uses that to cool the recirculating data-cooling air, but it does it indirectly so you never get outside air coming into the data centre," Rackspace said.
Chimneys are run down to the server floor from units above and ambient air is passed over the unit and cooled and then pumped into the server floor. The only thing that is moving in all this is the fan to move the air.
As a result the data centre's Power Usage Effectiveness rating is 1.15 compared with the global data centre average of 1.7, roughly 35 percent more efficient than other data centres in Europe.
What this means financially is that Rackspace is saving £30 to £40 per kilowatt per month, the firm told us, and the site produces 5,000KW per month in total. If true, that's a lot of savings.
The facility has received a BREEAM assessment certification of ‘Excellent', and is said to be one of the UK's greenest.
Rackspace said that it created 400 jobs in the construction of the facility, employing 30 "rackers", and it will have continued support in maintenance and property management. The components were also sourced locally.
The new data centre is one of three proposed buildings as part of the project. Rackspace said it plans to grow the data centre by 30MW in scale so there's plenty of opportunity to grow. The design will be open sourced, Rackspace said. µ
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