£1.6-billion Scots Data Farm Highlights Sustainability Potential

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The proposal to build a massive data centre in Scotland will pave the way for mainstream adoption of the sustainable technologies it will showcase

A massive, $1.6 billion (£988 million) next-generation data centre in Scotland will help develop more energy and cost-efficient data centre management practices, it has been suggested today.

The proposed, new initial 125-acre centre to be built at Ecclefechan in Dumfries and Galloway by APC of Schneider Electric and Internet Villages International (IVI), and referred to as ‘Alba 1,’ will be so big it is being called a ‘data farm’ project.

Alba 1 will host multiple, large warehouses of server and networking hardware, providing UK, pan-European and worldwide data connectivity in what could be the first in a series of such farms that could reduce the need for end-using organisations to own their own IT infrastructure and signpost the future of data centre operations.

IVI said the site would have an “abundance of low-cost land and water,” and would use of 4100 MW diverse power feeds and 100 percent renewable energy and water, reportedly from a nearby biomass plant and local wind farms.

Alba 1 will support the move to a more sustainable company and environmental operations required under the Kyoto treaty to stabilise and reduce carbon emissions, according to Chris Smith, sales director of on365.co.uk, a specialist in the planning, installing, management and optimisation of data centre physical infrastructure and utility services.

“With the trend towards hosted, cloud or ASP [application software provider] services, alongside existing internal data centre operations at the moment, having a data farm like this means there’s more chance of them using the likes of free cooling, and benefitting from a higher power utilisation efficiency (PUE) rates,” he said.

He also said that the APC and IVI initiative will help build momentum for UK organisations to better understand the requirements their IT demands are putting on data centres, and thereby reduce the carbon emissions that result.

But he added that for such data farm projects to be effective and widely adopted, they will require redundant high power connections to the National Grid and redundant fast/multi-carrier data access points.

Smith warned: “This has raised the construction and engineering costs in the past and has not always been available in areas where cooler climates allow high efficiency cooling of the technical space.”

David Tebbutt, Freeform Dynamics programme director commented: “Real life suggests that, unless the whole IT operations function is outsourced, then companies will be mixing their internal IT with outsourced stuff. This is non-trivial but it is helped if companies have already embarked on a virtualisation strategy in which the applications run without consideration of the kit that they’re running on.”