Slough is probably best known as the home of fictional paper company Wernham Hogg in The Office. But the town is actually the centre for some of the most important internet transfers that take place in the UK on a day-to-day, and millisecond-to-millisecond, basis.
Datacentre firm Equinix recently announced the opening of its LD5 datacentre on the outskirts of Slough, and V3.co.uk was invited along as the first publication to see the new building.
The facility is the company's 50th worldwide, and its second largest to date. It covers 27,800sq m, 7,000sq m of which is being brought online as part of the first deployment, or Phase One.
On arrival, however, there is little to mark it out as a new datacentre. It looks like just another warehouse in another trading estate. Yet the grey façade, and the Ministry of Defence-standard fences, security cameras, ballistic glass, mantrap doors and biometric entrance points, are all there to keep the site hidden and secure.
Having found the place and made it through the security checks, the inside is impressive. The currently unoccupied Phase Two, Three and Four locations cover vast areas that are as yet untouched by racks and cages.
The facility's being empty means you can fully gauge the immense size of the building and the sheer amount of space the racks require, as the growth of data on the internet soars. The complete building will be able to hold 5,600 cabinets.
Upstairs in Phase One, work is already underway to prepare for the installation of 1,400 cabinets, and a few are already online. Deployments always start on the top floors so that there is no risk of heavy plant vehicles working over a live datacentre.
"We have co-habited areas and dedicated areas being installed at present, and have several firms waiting to move their equipment in," said Equinix sales director Wynn McCabe, pointing to the stacks of racks wrapped in cardboard out side the clean room.
"We've also set up two separate connections between LD4 and LD5, which are 300m apart, using 1,000 fibres in each to make it possible for firms, particularly carriers, to connect racks between the two premises quickly and efficiently," he said.
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