Data centre provider Virtus has opened a new facility in Hayes, Middlesex. Called London2, the modular colocation data centre joins London1, which Virtus opened in Enfield in 2011.
Neil Cresswell, chief executive of Virtus, said the company chose Hayes because of its connectivity and proximity to London.
"It's probably in the sweet-spot for connectivity. The further outside the Docklands and central London you go the amount of connectivity options that are available to you tails off," he said.
"But, the closer to central London you get, the higher the price and lack of availability of land."
According to Virtus, London2's design enables power units, backup generators and cooling systems to be installed on demand.
V3 was given a tour of the facility with the firm touting the size of its data hall, which you can see in the video below.
To ensure that both space and power is not wasted, Virtus designed London2 to be able to scale up or down depending on customer needs and density.
Dave Watkins, operations director at Virtus, explained how the building's exterior walls (pictured) are removable so new infrastructure can be slotted into the centre as and when it is needed.
"What we've actually done from a construction perspective is to design the building so we can fit it out in a modular fashion," he said.
Cresswell said this approach allows Virtus to offer customers flexible colocation and rack space contracts, making London2 a truly "elastic data centre". "We allow customers to buy a rack from a day to a decade," he added.
Fresh air cooling
Rather than relying on water cooling, London2 uses indirect fresh air cooling. This works by sucking hot air from the centre's large halls of servers into a simple heat exchanger sitting in a large ventilated room filled with cool air from the outside.
Through thermodynamics, the hot air is cooled through the heat exchanger and then pumped back into the server halls. This technique uses a lot less energy than water cooling.
On hot days the cooling system will spray the heat exchangers with water taken from an aquifer beneath the building, aiding the cooling process without relying on a mains water supply.
Backup power systems
The importance of data centre resilience is reflected in the impressive backup power systems at London2.
The centre has two rooms of uninterruptible power supplies (pictured), which provide emergency power to server racks in the event of disruption to the data centre's renewable energy mains supply.
Twelve of these units provide enough power to keep London2 running at full capacity for 10 minutes, though that is not likely to needed.
If the mains power is not restored in a matter of seconds, the power systems switch over to the centre's three diesel generators, which each provide 2.5 megawatts of power to keep London2 running at full capacity for 48 hours.
In the unlikely event of sustained power loss, these generators can be continuously fuelled with diesel to ensure that the centre's servers are kept running. Only two generators are likely to be active at any one time, with the third acting as a redundant power supply.
London2 boasts fibre connections from more than 20 carriers, including major companies such as Virgin and Verizon.
London2's main features have all been centred on offering its customers flexible service models, while maintaining high levels of energy efficiency.
The need for efficiency has been highlighted recently with Amazon being lambasted by Greenpeace over its use of fossil fuel to power its data centres, and Salesforce opening its UK data centre powered by renewable energy.
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