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Norwegian mountain houses Europe's biggest datacentre

Lefdal Mine Datacenter sets out plans to build an underground facility spanning six floors in a Norwegian mountain

A Norwegian mine looks set to become home to Europe’s biggest datacentre – with the help of IBM and Rittal.

The Tier III development is the brainchild of Lefdal Mine Datacenter, and will be built underneath a mountain on the west coast of Norway. The datacentre comprises 75 chambers across six levels.

Each will be connected by an underground road network, with a central access road on each floor providing direct access to vacant chambers.

Lefdal Mine Datacenter claims the location will not only provide it with plenty of room for future expansion, but also allow it to tap into the area’s renewable energy supplies and temperate climate to create an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly facility.

Speaking at a press conference, Lefdal chairman Egil Skibenes said the construction of the datacentre had already begun and will finish in August 2016.

“As we speak, work is going on in the mine, and we are going to be the best datacentre in the world – and for the world,” he said.

“In the business of datacentres, size matters. It gives you economy of scale, allows you to build with high security and we are situated in an area where we will have the benefit of natural cooling and hydroelectric power.”

The datacentre’s underground location should confer on it an advantage in physical security, the company claims, and also means the cost to build it is around 30-60% cheaper than a typical Tier III datacentre.

“We have the possibility of building out 120,000m2 in the mine. The customers will be able to reserve space for future growth with limited investments, and we can produce a perfect capital-cost alignment, increasing capacity in the facility fast, and at low cost, when needed,” the company said in a statement.

This is important, said Norwegian minister for petroleum and energy, Tord Lien, as the world’s reliance on cloud technologies continues to grow.

Read more about overseas datacentres

“Demand for datacentre capacity is increasing – not just in Norway, but across the world,” he said.

"As computing moves to the cloud, data needs to be stored safely."

This growth means the carbon emissions of the IT industry are on course to exceed those of the airline industry, but facilities such as Lefdal Mine Datacenter's should enable the demand for cloud services to be met in a sustainable way, he added.

“This will establish Norway as a datacentre powerhouse,” he said.

Moving in

Once work on the facility is finished, IBM plans to offer resiliency services for data and server protection for the facility's users. The company has already been actively involved in shaping the facility’s design.

“Lefdal Mine Datacenter provides a strategic option for secure storage of large volumes of data and IT operations in an efficient and environmentally friendly way in Norway. We think this solution will resonate well among both our Norwegian and international clients,” said Arne Norheim, country general manager of IBM Norway.

Technology from datacentre hardware firm Rittal will be featured inside. Andreas Keiger, the firm’s executive vice-president for European sales, said he was confident the site will prove an attractive proposition for a wide range of users.

“The advantages given by nature are unique, and Norway as location with a surplus green power production and low energy costs is leading in Europe. We will not only get a high quality datacentre solution, but a highly cost-effective one as well,” he said.

“We are confident that other European companies will find the Lefdal Mine Datacenter solution very attractive.”

Read more on Datacentre energy efficiency and green IT

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I applaud Norway's essential work, but I have a chilling feel that the US once-overpowering tech dominance is constantly eroding without foresight and investment in infrastructure..
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