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Wikimedia Moves Into Green European Data Centre

Open information and sustainable infrastructure go hand in hand according to Wikimedia and EvoSwitch

The organisation behind Wikipedia is hoping to improve the response times for its sites in Europe by making use of a carbon neutral data centre in Amsterdam.

Announced this week, the data centre is run by and owned by environmentally sustainable infrastructure specialist EvoSwitch. The Amsterdam site will become the Wikimedia Foundation’s main internet hub for Europe with the organisation making use of “over 300,000 Euros of in-kind support in the form of bandwidth and hosting services”, the organisations said in a statement.

“We are using the Amsterdam site for caching in particular, aiming to reduce the response time of our project websites in Europe,” said Brion Vibber, chief technology officer for the Wikimedia Foundation. “EvoSwitch will also be a good location for backing up content that is stored at our Florida data centre. We will also be relocating European free knowledge projects to EvoSwitch, such as Toolserver.org – a project of the German Wikimedia chapter.”

EvoSwitch describes itself as a “carrier-neutral, green data centre (CO2-neutral)” provider. The Amsterdam data centre reportedly has a Power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.6 with a near-term goal of 1.2.

PUE, as defined by the Green Grid organisation, is a ratio of total facility power divided by IT equipment power. Ideally it should be less than 2; the closer to 1, the better. A UK data centre run by petro-exploration company PGS, has achieved 1.2, and Dutch company Imtech has promised 1.4

The Wikimedia Foundation said that the environmentally friendly nature of EvoSwitch’s data centre was a particular advantage. “As operators of one of the most heavily accessed web property on the web, we are aware of the impact that the Internet and its energy consumption have on the environment,” said Vibber. “EvoSwitch’s energy-saving measures, combined with their use of green energy and CO2 compensation are very attractive to us.”

In addition, EvoSwitch said that Wikimedia’s aims for developing open content also chimed with its own beliefs about sustainable technology. “We are strong supporters of Wikimedia and their Wikipedia free knowledge project in particular,” said Eric Boonstra, EvoSwitch’s commercial director. “The Foundation’s operations coincide with the objectives of our own organisation, to keep the Internet ‘open’ and stimulate freedom of expression and the transmission of knowledge via the Internet.”

The Wikimedia Foundation’s said that its hosting infrastructure in Florida consists over 300 servers. It now has plans to install about 50 servers at the EvoSwitch site in Amsterdam.

“The Amsterdam servers both retrieve the content from the servers in Florida, as well as store it. Web pages can then be displayed to Internet users directly from Amsterdam, which improves the speed and accessibility of the web pages in Europe significantly,” explained Vibber. “I expect that we will further increase our capacity at EvoSwitch in the near future due to the required storage capacity and new European publishing projects.”