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Modular datacentre helps Belgian IT firm support Dutch and German customers

Cegeka commissioned a new datacentre when its customer base expanded and decided on a modular approach to get it up and running quickly

Amsterdam-based datacentre specialist ICTroom built an energy-efficient datacentre in the Netherlands in just four months by using modular methods. The new datacentre is dedicated to Belgian ICT services provider Cegeka and will be leased on a datacentre-as-a-service basis.

modular datacentre differs from a traditional set-up in having a portable infrastructure designed for rapid deployment, energy efficiency and high density. It can be shipped anywhere in the world and set up at any location that has a power source, network connection and cooling equipment.

The technology also helps businesses save the time and cost of building their own datacentre.

Matthew Gingell, marketing director at ICTroom, says the technique makes it possible to “build datacentres in steps and integrate different components”.

The company’s flagship datacentre went fully operational this month.

The commissioning of the datacentre is a sign of Cegeka’s European ambitions. The firm provides enterprise cloud services, application services, outsourcing and agile coaching to customers throughout the continent.

The new datacentre, which cost about €10m, is located in the Dutch region of Sittard-Geleen and has a capacity of 750kW per module with room for blocks of 160 racks, but can be expanded to 2.5MW.

The datacentre’s location in South Limburg, near the Belgian and German borders, is not entirely coincidental. Cegeka recently took over Dutch ICT service provider Brainforce, and took on many Dutch and German customers in the process.

Marco Witteveen, director at Cegeka Netherlands, says: “Sittard-Geleen is strategically ideal to serve those customers, alongside our existing datacentres. With this geographic spread, we can also offer more reliability and continuity, as well as state-of-the-art security.”

High energy efficiency

Cegeka has more than 3,200 employees and runs four datacentres – in Hasselt and Leuven (both Belgium), Veenendaal (Netherlands) and Poland. It is the sole tenant of the new Tier 3 datacentre in South Limburg. With a PUE (power usage efficiency) of 1.14, the datacentre is one of the most energy-efficient in the Netherlands.

The technical infrastructure is built fully redundant (N + 1), whereby each component can be replaced or serviced without affecting the IT systems. The most critical links in the energy supply may have even higher redundancy (2N + 1), more than Tier 3 classification requires. The datacentre provides availability of more than 99.98%.

“During construction, we assumed an optimal total cost of ownership, where the energy costs have been the main guiding principle,” says ICTroom’s Gingell. “As a result, there is minimal wastage and almost all the energy comes directly to the IT equipment. The use of solar energy ensures that less energy needs to come from the energy grid.”

Cegeka is not using solar directly at the datacentre, but instead through a renewable supply contract. About 98% of its power is therefore from renewables.

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ICTroom is responsible for the maintenance and management of the datacentre’s technical installations.

Modularity is the best way to address the complexity of the market, says Gingell. “Nobody knows how they are going to use their datacentre in the next five years,” he adds. “We can often look ahead a few months, but in this rapidly changing digital world, with the internet of things, cloud and new apps, flexibility is paramount.”

ICTroom’s integrated modules can be put together in restricted spaces. For example, the datacentre specialist put a computer room on the roof of a hospital in the Dutch village of Sneek.

“It needed an additional computer room with 10 racks, but had no physical space to build a new datacentre or expand its existing one,” says Gingell. “So we installed a mini datacentre in a container on the roof.”

The company has modules available for a small footprint, 50kW, which increase in seamless increments of 125kW to 750kW.

“The modular approach gives us more control of our costs and we can adapt the datacentre capacity and technologies according to demand,” Gingell adds. “We are currently using about a third of the total capacity at the datacentre in Sittard-Geleen.

“This approach and efficient use of technology and energy mean that, together with Cegeka, we are keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible.”

Modularity offers flexibility

Modularity is key to the future of datcentres, says Gingell. “We see a number of different developments at the same time,” he says. “Datacentre providers have to be able to react to different requirements. There is huge demand for mega deployments with inexpensive cooling. The internet of things and streaming media will force much more datacentre capacity in the marketplace.

“On the other hand, you have service providers that want to have smaller footprints, faster response time and lower latency. That means the data processing needs to be closer to the source.

“We see a lot of small regional datacentres emerging, while at the same time a lot of mega deployments are being built.”

There is more demand for sustainable datacentres offered as a service, where the customer chooses the location. ICTroom is fully committed to this concept, even abroad, says Gingell.

“It is an alternative to large datacentres where customers have to rent space,” he says. “The modular concept allows customers to choose where they want their datacentres, and they are the exclusive tenant of the service.”

Control and security

Cegeka’s decision to commission a new datacentre instead of opting for colocation is partly the result of customer requests. “In conversations with our customers, we see the need for their own local, highly secure datacentres,” says André Knaepen, CEO of the Cegeka Group, on its website.

“Our customers are increasingly outsourcing IT infrastructure management. Control and security play an important role in this decision.

“They therefore want their data and systems to be close by. With datacentres in Belgium and the Netherlands and a combination of public and private cloud services, we act on these requests.”

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