I visited Eduserv’s data centre in Swindon today. The centre will have a number of contained areas within it each of which can accommodate around 80 racks of equipment. There is space for six of these distinct areas although currently only one has been set up. This is being populated with equipment running Eduserv’s Athens service and a number of the websites they host.
There is replication throughout the facility in case of failure. Although there is currently only one power feed, a further one is on order and will feed into the centre from the opposite side of the building to the current (pardon the pun) feed. However, with a bank of UPSs provide cover in case of a temporary power failure and a backup generator on site ready to kick in, providing power around 15 seconds into a power outage, there appears to be ample protection for electrical supply problems. Network connectivity and fire suppression systems are also duplicated.
Environmental issues have been considered in fitting the centre – the racks are arranged around cold aisles with any empty racks being blanked off to improve the air flow. The cold aisles are a comfortable temperature should it be necessary to work on servers within the racks. It is hoped that the centre will operate at around 1.4 times the power consumption of the servers housed within it.
There is still some work going on at the facility but it is operational and can quickly accommodate servers from other organisations. Eduserv have clearly seized the moment and have put together a facility which could play a role in the wider shared services agenda. I am not sure whether there is the appetite in the sector to build new data centres particular current economic constraints (a recent survey carried out by consultants working for JANET (UK) may show otherwise) so renting space in facilities that already exist may provide the safer option.