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Rackspace opens UK’s ‘greenest’ data centre with high-efficiency cooling system

Fri 24 Apr 2015

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Rackspace, the multinational cloud computing giant, has this week opened its latest UK data centre in the London suburb of Crawley, West Sussex.

The data centre, developed alongside Digital Realty, has been designed to meet compatibility and compliance standards in line with the Open Compute Project. The site spans 15 acres, with 130,000 sq.ft of data centre space hosting 50,000 servers.

Rackspace boasts that the new facility is the largest centre in the UK to use an ‘indirect outside air’ cooling system. “This is the newest and most sustainable [data centre] of its kind in the UK,” the firm claimed, hoping that it will help support growing demand for cloud computing services in the UK and across Europe.

According to Rackspace, Crawley was chosen as the home for the new facility as it is an easy location to supply with power, which the company added was an “absolute critical” factor to consider when placing a data centre.

“[It’s a] good route for fibre which presents good opportunities to link fibre between other properties in the sector; a combination of power, fibre and cycle real estate with planning that allows us to develop a data centre,” said Rackspace at the official launch on Wednesday.

However, the standout feature of the new centre is the large-scale outside indirect air cooling technology, which reduces both the energy and water needed to operate the data centre in an optimal temperature range.

“We are using indirect air cooling technology, so essentially it’s an ‘all-air’ system which takes the outside air and uses that to cool the recirculating data-cooling air, but it does it indirectly so you never get outside air coming into the data centre,” the company explained.

Chimneys run down to the server floor from cooling units above. Ambient air is passed over the units where it is cooled and pumped into the server floor. “The only thing that is moving in all this is the fan to move the air,” said Rackspace chief operating officer Mark Roenigk.

Rackspace continued to quote the new data centre’s power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating as 1.15, compared to a typical 1.7 – 35% more efficient than the European average. This equates to a saving of approximately £30-40 per kilowatt each month on a total of 5,000 kilowatts produced per month.

The Crawley site has been awarded ‘Excellent’ from BREEAM assessment certification, and is expected to be one of the UK’s ‘greenest’ facilities.

The firm added that the design and build of the new data centre had created 400 jobs, including 30 “rackers.”

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Cloud data centre news Rackspace UK
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