Scotland is to get its first eco-friendly datacentre as part of a major cloud computing development by IT services company Alchemy Plus with backing from Microsoft.
The 20,000 square foot facility will be built at Inverness Harbour, which offers easy access to hydroelectric and wind power, and where the colder climate will help keep cooling bills to a minimum.
It is expected to cost around £20m and will offer secure datacentre services to private and public sector clients on a pay-as-you-go basis.
The cloud computing model charges customers on a monthly basis for the actual IT resources their business uses, offering economies of scale and dynamic resource allocation without the usual capital expenditure.
"This development could not be better timed. Demand for premium datacentre space continues to far outstrip available supply, and the current economic downturn is driving a rapid shift towards cloud-based services which offer greater economy and flexibility," said Peter Swanson, chairman of Alchemy Plus.
The company claims that the facility will be one the greenest of its kind in the country. As well as making use of renewable energy and environmentally friendly design, the new datacentre will be able to transmit heat to neighbouring parts of the Inverness Harbour development, including retail units, offices and a hotel.
"This announcement is great news for the region and for Scotland," said Raymond O'Hare, director of Microsoft Scotland.
"The increasing importance of software-plus-services in offering businesses of all sizes flexibility and choice in technology solutions that genuinely meet their needs means that developments like this are vital to ensure that Scotland stays at the forefront of this growing industry."
A planning application is being prepared and is likely to be submitted in the new year. It is hoped that the development will be up and running by the end of 2010, and will eventually create employment for over 400 people.
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