Hosting provider Savvis puts £20 million into Slough data centre expansion

Hosting provider Savvis has expanded its Slough facility by 20,000 feet to keep up with the growing demand for outsourced IT services in the U.K.

IT hosting provider Savvis is chasing the growing demand for data centre collocation, managed hosting services and cloud services in the UK with a £20 million expansion of its Slough data centre.

The facility, built in 2008, resembles an aeroplane hangar with two floors; however, one has remained empty until now. By using the previously empty space, the Slough data centre space has been expanded by 20,000 square feet to 43,000 square feet. The data centre expansion will be complete by the end of 2010.

The market may be lucrative, but competition is high, as Savvis competes with the likes of Equinix, RackSpace and BT Global Services. Last June, BT launched its Virtual Data Centre (VDC) service across EMEA.

Not far from Savvis data centre, service provider Equinix houses its LD4 and LD5 IBX data centres, also in Slough. The company's fifth London data centre, LD5 IBX was completed in the last month. The facility is almost 300,000 square feet and is Equinex's second largest data centre in Europe; the biggest is located in Frankfurt. The LD4 facility has 53,800 square feet of technical space, also located in Slough.

It's strange to think that we run water under the floor of a room that contains very expensive IT equipment, but we feel it's the most efficient way to cool the data centre for the space we have.


Brian Klingbeil, managing director of EMEA at Savvis,

Slough is also home to Rackspace's carbon neutral data centre, which is 55,000 square feet. Built in 2008, the facility is powered by a combined heat and power plant that burns wood chips, waste paper and fibre.

Savvis services and customers
Savvis, which works with U.K. customers such as Thomson Reuters, Discovery Communications and easyJet, offers services ranging from collocation and outsourcing to cloud services. It also offers proximity hosting for the financial community, but it isn't the only service provider flexing its financial services muscles. SunGard announced this week that it has combined its consulting technology services teams to create a new global team with around 4,500 staff. This team will be focused solely on global financial services and energy companies.

In July, this year, the company will deploy its Savvis Symphony Virtual Private Data Centre (VPDC) at its Slough facility. The facility currently offers Savvis Symphony Open, a public cloud offering, and Savvis Symphony Dedicated, which enables enterprise customers to establish a cloud environment for compute and storage resources for Web applications, such as e-commerce.

Savvis' power and cooling specs
Brian Klingbeil, managing director of EMEA at Savvis, said the data centres at the Slough site have a power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.6.

According to Lex Coors, vice president for the data centre technology and engineering group at data centre operator Interxion, the ideal data centre would have a PUE of one. However, this is not physically possible, as some infrastructure services, such as cooling, still have to be provided, which means every watt of power is not delivered directly to the IT equipment.

Recent research has found that a data centre with a PUE of between 1.5 and 1.7 is considered low, according to Coors.


Chilled water for data centre cooling
The Savvis Slough data centre site is cooled through pipes that run under the raised floor, as part of the company's chilled water cooling method.

"It's strange to think that we run water under the floor of a room that contains very expensive IT equipment, but we feel it's the most efficient way to cool the data centre for the space we have," added Klingbeil.

The cold air is sucked through holes in the floor, which is then sucked through the servers and blown out the back into a hot aisle. The air is then pulled through the CRAC units, before being sent to chillers for re-cooling.

"We are very restrictive about our hot and cold aisles at the Slough site, as the cooling systems and the servers have to work harder if the pattern is disrupted -- it's laid out like a grid of hot, cold, hot, cold," he added.

Klingbeil said Savvis is looking into the prospect of free air cooling, which was the company's first choice; however, the facility currently lacks the space for such a method.

"You need quite a bit of free roof space before you can start looking into free air cooling, he said."

More expansion
Savvis has a total of 28 data centres globally, three of which are based in the U.K. -- Slough, Reading and the London Docklands. Slough data centre expansion is one of four data centres worldwide due for development within 2010.

Expansions are also taking place in Virginia, Chicago, and Weehawken in New Jersey. The company plans to add 6,000 square feet of data centre space to its DC4 data centre in Steerling, Virgina. The facility currently houses 30,000 square feet of raised floor space. The largest expansion has been to the Slough site. In the last three years, expansions have also taken place on the firm's Tokyo facility, in addition to adding a completely new data centre in Singapore.

Kayleigh Bateman is the Site Editor of

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