Thursday, December 8, 2011

Renewable Resources Power Data Center in Iceland

British data hosting company Verne Global has commissioned telecommunications group Colt to build a data center powered entirely by renewable energy in Iceland. The parts will be fabricated in the U.K. before being shipped to Iceland.

With undeniable logic, the Icelandic government has for years been promoting the country as the ideal place in the world to site a data-center. But it has not always been an easy sell.

What makes Iceland perfect is its climate and the availability of energy resources. The greatest expense data centers face is power and most of that is used to chill the racks of servers. But, with an average high temperature peaking at 13 degrees Celsius, or a little over 55 degrees Fahrenheit, in July, it is nearly always easy to let in some cool, filtered air.

Then there is Iceland’s abundance of energy, which is not only “green” but also competitively priced. It is cheap as it is almost impossible to export because its source is geothermal or hydroelectric. If Iceland’s energy was in the form of gas, oil or coal it would be a different story, but the challenge of shipping electicity means industries have to be located close to the energy source. And the country still has plenty of untapped sources of hydroelectric and geothermal energy.

The problem is the word “geothermal” makes potential customers for Icelandic data centers think of geological instability, which is not ideal for mission-critical data. And when the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano disrupted much of European airspace in 2010, it wasn’t the advertising for physical stability the state body Invest in Iceland could have hoped for.

But Jeff Monroe, chief executive of Verne Global, describes the location of the new data center: “It’s in the former NATO allied command base, which is a location in Iceland that’s very geologically stable and outside the prevailing winds for any volcanic activity.” He points out that these are probably reasons why NATO chose the location originally.

Mr. Monroe said the campus was designed for expansion and included infrastructure to supply up to a peak load 100 megawatts of computer power, enough for the trading floor of more than 30 investment banks.

Iceland also has three fiberoptic submarine cables linking it with Europe and America. A fourth is due to come on-stream in 2012 and, it is claimed, will have the lowest latency across the Atlantic.
The 500 meter square  data center hall is being manufactured by Colt in the U.K. and will be shipped to Keflavik, Iceland, in early October. It is made up of 37 modules that will be transported by sea and assembled within weeks at the Verne Global data center campus in Iceland.

“From an engineer’s point of view, Iceland couldn’t be any better,” said Guy Ruddock, vice president of operations for Colt Data Center Services. “Thanks to the cool climate we’ve been able to remove all of the compression cooling from the design, so there’s no huge chillers or noisy pieces of equipment.”

“The modular design of the data center means we can offer a service which takes four months from the day you sign until you put in your first server. It’s about 6-8 times faster than traditional building,” he said.

Mr. Monroe said the first announcements from customers for the new data center would begin to be released at the beginning of October.

Adopted from The Wall Street Journal,

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