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Brightsolid opens Tier III datacentre in Aberdeen to support oil and gas sector

DC Thompson-backed datacentre operator opens third facility in Scotland to tap into cloud demands of oil, gas and public sector markets

Scottish datacentre operator Brightsolid has claimed its new £5m facility in Aberdeen can store the same amount of data as Facebook does globally, and will turn a profit within six months of opening.

The company, part of the DC Thompson publishing group, already has two datacentres north of the border, including one in Dundee and another in Edinburgh.

The latest addition to its burgeoning datacentre portfolio will reportedly help capitalise on the success the company has already had with serving the datacentre needs of the public sector – through the company’s inclusion on the Scottish government’s datacentre hosting framework in May 2015.

The energy industry has also proven a keen adopter of the firm’s services to date, and with many firms in the oil and gas sector located in Aberdeen, Brightsolid CEO Richard Higgs said the area emerged as the best site for its next facility.

“The business we’re already transacting means that within six months of opening, we’ll be profitable. The demand has been such that we’ve already exceeded our expectations and the business case for the pre-signed contracts we have in place before we’ve actually opened,” he told Computer Weekly ahead of the site’s opening.

However, amid the recent slump in oil prices, Higgs said the board did take some convincing that ploughing investment into a datacentre to help address the energy sector's hosting needs was the right way to go.

He explained: “When the DC Thompson board saw the oil price going south, we hadn’t actually committed to investing in the datacentre, and they said – quite rightly – ‘Are you sure you want to be investing such a large sum of money in Aberdeen right now?’

“We said yes, because we knew we could fill the facility with non-energy sector demand from the wider UK.”

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As it stands, the economic challenges the oil and gas sector are facing are actually working in the firm’s favour, Higgs claimed, as their appetite for cheaper datacentre space is growing.

“When we looked at a lot of the costs for the energy sector and where they do a lot of their data hosting, one of the stats that emerged was that more than 50% of the energy sector’s data processing takes place in or around the M25,” he explained. 

“That is a heck of a lot more expensive than hosting in Aberdeen. Our thinking was, if the market goes into a cost-conscious phase and needs to save money, we have our Aberdeen facility.”

The datacentre officially opened today (1 October 2015), and the 2,200m2 site will initially contain 400 high-density, 25 kW racks but will have the capacity to house up to 400PB of data. This, the company has claimed, is the same amount as social networking giant Facebook holds globally.

It has been a year in the making, with Brightsolid first announcing news of the build in October 2014.

To achieve its goal of having rack power densities of up to 25kw the company has deployed the Ecofris cooling technology created by datacentre building consultancy Keysource.

The Tier III facility also reinforces Brightsolid’s position as Scotland’s only Microsoft Cloud OS partner, said Higgs, which means the company can deploy the software giant’s technologies earlier than its Scottish competitors.

“We absolutely believe that there is a requirement for regional datacentres, as well as huge utility datacentres, and see ourselves as effectively a virtual integrator of the future, where people will have part of their data in-house, some with us and with others,” he added.

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