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An ambitious project is under way in Newport Gwent, to build one of the most advanced and secure data centres in Europe.

Next Generation Data (NGD) is investing £200 million ($346 million) to modify a 750,000 square-foot (69,677 square meters) factory built by the Korean firm, LG more than a decade ago near Newport, Wales, intended for fabricating microchips but abandoned after the Asian financial crisis.

The Welsh government has tried for years to find other uses for the hulking structure whose second floor alone can hold two 747 jumbo jets. Now, it’s in the midst of a massive retrofit to house thousands of server racks that NGD officials say could appeal to companies such as IBM and Microsoft, which are growing their data center services.

Although it was built for microchips, NGD officials say the facility is well suited for a data centre, ranging from its close proximity to local carrier exchanges, a nearby power substation and to the London area, said Simon Taylor, the company’s chairman.

The data centre is being designed to be “carrier neutral” and will have fibre internet connections provided by carriers BT, NTL and Cable and Wireless. NGD is also in negotiations to get a trans-Atlantic connection that would bypass London, which would ensure connectivity in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster such as flooding in the city.

“We actually think that having non-London transit will be a very saleable product for us,” Taylor said.

NGD’s facility will draw power from a local substation that connects directly to Britain’s national grid, also called the “supergrid.” The substation can deliver up to 180 megavolt amperes (MVA) in 45 MVA blocks. The amount of power is massive: 180 MVA is enough for a city, Taylor said.

It’s tough to get that much power at data centre sites within the city limits of London. “Power is a very, very scarce commodity,” Taylor said.

The former LG facility had several traits that lend themselves well to becoming a data centre. It has double-skin walls and was designed to be shudder-proof in order to make microchips.

NGD is also fortifying the facility to make it highly secure. A 12-foot (3.66 metres), military-grade fence extending into the ground will ring the facility with an infrared system beyond that to detect intruders. It will have thousands of closed-circuit television cameras, air-lock gates, retina-scan biometric entry systems and bulletproof and bomb-proof reinforcements in places.

“We’ve really gone to town on this,” Taylor said.

The walls will resist fire for up to two hours. In the event of a power failure, 18,000 litres of diesel fuel is stored on site, which would keep the centre running for some 36 hours before more fuel would be needed. It has been classified as a Tier 3 facility by the Uptime Institute, which rates data centres on infrastructure reliability and performance.

NGD has opted to only hire qualified ex-military personnel for its on-site guard force, which will be at the facility 24 hours a day.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for NGD is the site’s location in Newport, about an hour and 45-minute train ride from London. Some server-hugging IT administrators don’t like their equipment being very far away from their offices. But Taylor said those concerns are less relevant given that data centers are typically managed from afar anyway.

Hosting space starts at 2,500 square feet. For large enterprises, the facility has 10,000-square foot and 20,000 square-foot halls. NGD said it can provide 1.5 kilowatts per square meter or 4 kilowatts per rack up to a maximum of 8 kilowatts per rack.

NGD is in a race against others to get its facility up and running, as there are two to three other large data centres planned in the UK and more throughout Europe, Taylor said. NGD’s first clients should move in around March 2009 on the facility’s ground floor. So far, NGD has commitments from clients for about 10 per cent of the data center’s 400,000 square feet of usable rack space and aims to fill the whole centre in three years.

There Are 9 Responses So Far. »

  1. […] mere i The Hos Aisle’s indl

  2. Doesn’t sound particularly environmentally friendly or advanced. With UK Data Centre carbon emissions set to grow 100% by 2014, the government will look to increase its Climate Change Levy at greater than inflation rates for these types of consumers. Therefore, unless these facilities can materially reduce consumption they are at danger of becoming economically unsustainable. At full load (180MVA) today the annual electricity bill could eclipse £200M+ and at a paltry 5% energy inflation this will climb to £300M+ within 10 year. If the relatively low Climate Change Levy increasing at 10%pa (which some commentators suggest could be closers to 30%pa) the £300M climbs to £330M and a 10 year energy bill will top £2.6bn.

    DC operators must look at methods for REAL and significant consumption savings and securing carbon tax exemption. After all this doesn’t even take account of carbon trading.

  3. My last post may not have worked.

    I am looking for a data centre in derby of 50 miles max distance with the following .

    • Tier 3 data centre as defined by the Uptime institute

    • 11,000 sq ft (less space needed if higher power capacity )

    • Within 50 miles of Derby

    • Pre-built leased facility

    • 100 watts/sq ft ( 2Kw by my calclations per rack )

    • Facility operational in 2009

    Best regards
    David

  4. I think this site is very helpful , I wonder if any body knows of a data centre in Derby of 50 miles of the City with the following ?

    • Tier 3 data centre as defined by the Uptime institute ( I know this can be debated but this has been given to me

    • 11,000 sq ft

    • Within 50 miles of Derby

    • Pre-built leased facility

    • 100 watts/sq ft (by my calclations 2Kw a rack )

    • Facility operational in 2009

    I am sure if the site has higher power density less space will be needed.

    Best regards
    David Morgan

  5. Hi David,
    Node4 have their own Tier 3 Data Centre in Derby, with a second hall in the facility just opened, and all of the requirements you stated.
    http://www.node4.co.uk

  6. Hi David,
    Node4 have their own Tier 3 Data Centre in Derby, with a second hall in the facility just opened, and all of the requirements you stated.
    http://www.node4.co.uk

  7. David, give me a call on 07920 816853 and I'll give you one option that might work for you.

    Cheers, Geraint.

  8. Does anybody know of a procurement user group for efficient data centres in the UK .I am a member of the http://www.cips.org and I welcome any ideas.
    Best regards
    David Morgan
    dmorgan@hp.com

  9. David,

    That sounds like a great idea and I am pretty sure that there is not a current user group that would fit the bill (but would be delighted to be shown to be wrong). CB Richard Ellis are a very common starting point but they are so interlinked and involved in the Data Center and General property business that I feel we could do with a much more independent body.

    Want to start one?

    Steve

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