The Data Centre Arms Race

The following installments of this article look at the progress of this data centre arms race and a few of the new generation of large facilities that have been built across the world. There are, no doubt, some which would warrant a mention that don’t appear below because of a lack of available data, particularly regarding those run by online application giants such as Google and Facebook for purely their own use. Information is more plentiful for centres run as leased hosting and/or colocation facilities as they are looking to actively advertise their specifications.

When looking at the world’s largest data centres, there are a number of ways in which their sizes can be measured, including the scale of their operation, based on power consumption, the number of servers in use or the total digital storage capacity; or their potential capacity taking into account the number of units and total rack-space available in each facility including un-utilised capacity and potential space for colocation purposes.

This article focuses on the latter idea of capacity by comparing the floor space of each data centre’s buildings to get a scale of the actual facilities themselves rather than their technical capacities.

UK

Using this metric, the UK’s capital, London, is the largest data centre market in Europe. In other words it has collectively more data centre floor space than any other European city or single location. This statistic, however, reflects the high number of individual facilities that are to be found within the confines of the M25 and not necessarily the size of any individual building. The legacy of early data centre adoption has left London with an advanced data centre ecosystem despite the costs of real estate in the area. This cost though has prohibited the growth of the largest facilities.

Consequently the UK’s largest individual facility can actually be found nearly 150 miles away in South Wales, in Newport. Not only is it the UK’s largest but also the largest in Europe with 750,000 square feet of floor space. The scale of the centre means that it consumes 90 MVA of electricity and therefore incorporates its own electrical substation which has the incredible capacity to power a city of 400,000 inhabitants. It is also notable for its advanced security measures including exSAS guards, 3-skin walls, perimeter fences and biometric identification. The centre offers enterprise customers of varying sizes the ability to rent isolated suites, units and/or colocation space to fulfil their hosting requirements from business hosting to managed hosting resellers for example. The first tenants of the data centre were BT and Logica.