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Rackspace Confirms New 10MW UK Data Centre

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Ultra-efficient Rackspace data centre on its way to London

Rackspace Hosting has confirmed reports last month that it is building a new data centre in the UK, which will have an enviable energy efficiency, and up to 10 MegaWatt capacity, which could more than double the company’s British hosting capacity.

Unlike its current 7.7 MW flagship centre in Slough (opened in 2010), the site will be built by a third party, data centre construction firm Digital Realty, while Rackspace will concentrate on the tech housed in the building’s five halls, which will start to open some time late in 2014. Rackspace can’t say where the building is yet, as it is evaluating two possible locations, North and South of London – however both locations are sufficiently far from Slough to offer a full-strength disaster recovery service.

The move is a “big vote of confidence” in the UK as a location for data centres, said Nigel Beighton, Rackspace vice president of technology. In particular, it expresses Rackspace’s belief the local power infrastructure will be cost-effective enough to build energy-hungry data centres here and make them profitable, despite concerns over electricity generation plans, and uncertainty over green taxes.

Nigel Beighton RackspaceGreen data centre

“We are opening three 2MW data halls at the end of 2014,” said Beighton. “The other two will depend on demand. We expanded our Slough data centre last year, so we have enough capacity, to take us past the point when it might be needed.”

Rackspace aims to make this an efficient data cetnre, with a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1,25 – which means that for every Watt of power used in the IT equipment, only 0.25W  is required by cooling and other uses in the rest of the building.

To achieve this, Rackspace is making use of specifications from the Facebook-backed Open Compute project, in which data centre owners are sharing specifications for low-energy servers and new rack designs intended to reduce the waste of power and materials in data centres.

Beighton won’t say yet exactly what Open Compute specifications will be used – for instance, he warned that the Group Hug processor independent motherboard specification might not turn out to be cost-effective if it doesn’t build a mass market: “Besides, I am from Yorkshire, and I find the idea of a group hug a bit odd.”

It is also using the OpenStack software approach, which Rackspace co-founded, to make the site an “open cloud” resource.  Beighton said this means customers would be free to move their workloads to other OpenStack data centres run by other providers.

Rackspace is growing fast, and expanded by 300 staff and 10,000 servers in the UK in the last year. Instead of building more data centres, the company has moved to leasing space from partners in locations including Virginia, Chicago and Dallas in the USA as well as in Sydney.

Working with Digital Realty is  logical, said Beighton. “I’d rather let them wear the hard hats, while we get on with stuff like OpenStack.”

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