Rackspace Launches Green UK Data Center To Support European Expansion And Growth

Posted by Heidi Schwartzrackspace-infographic

Rackspace and Digital Realty Trust, Inc. have unveiled their new UK data center. Based in Crawley, West Sussex, the 130,000 square foot data center will help to meet the growing demand for managed cloud services in the UK and Europe. The facility has been designed with the specific needs of Rackspace customers in mind, encompassing top speeds, availability, and energy efficiency.

Delivering outstanding Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.15 compared to the average data center today rating of 1.7, and with a design BREEAM assessment certification of “Excellent,” it is one of the UK’s greenest data centers. The new operation is the first data center in the UK to make use of innovative “indirect outside air” cooling technology on this scale, without mechanical cooling, which means the overhead energy required to operate the data center has been cut by almost 80%. The use of these cutting-edge technologies in the facility is testament to both Digital Realty’s and Rackspace’s full support of the latest ASHRAE guidelines, which demonstrates an ability to follow stringent energy and sustainability targets while ensuring high levels of server performance.

The Crawley data center was designed to maximize compatibility to and compliance with Open Compute Project standards. By using Open Compute Project designs, Rackspace has been able to realize outstanding scalability and energy efficiency opportunities in the hardware it deploys. The data center delivers less weight, less waste and less wattage than traditional server designs.

Mark Roenigk, COO, Rackspace commented: “This data center is the epitome of intelligent 21st century infrastructure engineering. We partnered with industry leaders to design and deliver one of the most environmentally friendly and reliable data centers in Europe.

“We are proud of the energy efficiency achieved with the innovative design that will become the starting point for boosting the adoption of more efficient technologies in the UK and Europe. We are honored to operate and provide a positive impact in the Crawley community.”

The new data center, which is the size of two football fields and holds up to 50,000 physical servers, occupies a 15 acre site. The initial build was constructed in 15 months and took approximately 500,000 man hours. It provides 6MW capacity across two data suites, and will eventually comprise of four data suites with a total 12MW capacity. The site allows for further expansion up to 30MW, and a staggered build approach maximizes year-on-year advances in technology and efficiency gains.

Physical security is provided at multiple layers, starting with the physical perimeter fence through to personnel badge readers. There are also biometrics scanners that read the fingerprint of an individual before they are given access to sensitive areas.

Customers around the world will have access to the Crawley data center, although Rackspace anticipates that the majority of requests will come from customers in the UK and Europe.

The Crawley data center has adopted a blend of the ASHRAE Recommended and Allowable Ranges promoting best performance without impacting server availability. This has enabled Rackspace to remove more typical refrigerant cooling systems. In addition, the air flow from the roof mounted units is delivered to the white space with as little pressure drop as possible in a way that enables high density racks to be deployed. The management of fan energy along with removal of compressors plays a key role in reducing the amount of energy necessary to cool the servers and therefore the PUE rating for the facility. 

Rackspace is using an indirect cooling solution that necessitates much lower water consumption than other systems in its class and significantly less water than a traditional cooling tower. The use of rain water from the roof rainwater harvesting system minimizes use of mains water. Rackspace and Digital Realty have achieved an annualized average PUE of 1.15 for the facility, significantly reducing the amount of energy consumed.

The construction centers around a modular approach with the key items of plant including cooling solution, generators, UPS and switchgear as well as transformers constructed off-site and craned into position thereby reducing the time to deploy, improving the standards through factory based quality control and providing a scalable solution. These items of plant are located on the roof, reducing the footprint and therefore the environmental impact of the facility by reducing the amount of ancillary space required to support the data halls.

The Crawley site is connected to the existing Rackspace London metro fiber ring. This links its Slough facility to the main connectivity exchanges in London. The Crawley site is within a few miles of the main European long haul route therefore Rackspace has extended its London metro fiber ring using dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) technology. This enables Rackspace to quickly and easily increase bandwidth capabilities between sites as we add additional provider connectivity and in response to ever increasing customer demand.