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Central London data centre from Volta to serve Tech City

Low-latency companies in the city will benefit from a new facility in Great Sutton Street

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A new co-location data centre will be opening in central London next year, aiming to cater to the ultra-low latency needs of businesses in the City and around “Silicon Roundabout”.

Launched by Volta, a new data centre provider formed by industry veterans Matthew Dent, Julian King and Ian Charles Wright, the facility will be housed in the old Reuters building in Great Sutton Street. It is situated on a secure island site and will offer 8,500m² of floor space over six stories.

The basement and ground floor will predominantly be used for electrical distribution, four floors above that are all data hall, and the chiller plant is housed on the roof.

“The opportunity to acquire a substantial stand-alone building with the data centre planning consent that has immediate proximity to the City of London and Silicon Roundabout, which we're able to refurbish and bring back to market as a new data centre, is quite unique and frankly almost unheard of in this location,” Dent told Techworld.

The constrained power supply in London has forced many data centre providers to locate their facilities outside the M25. However, Volta claims to have the most resilient data centre power supply available in central London, being connected to two 33kv substations – effectively quadrupling the previous power supply to the building.

“At the time we started looking at this, EDF Energy was at quite an advanced stage of a major upgrade of general upgrade of power availability in the general area. So they were carrying out reinforcement works at two substations and between those two substations they were laying two new cables as part of these reinforcement works,” said Volta's commercial director Julian King.

“We were very fortunate that it was possible to route one of those cables down Great Sutton Street so we could take power directly off one of the routes connecting these substations, and they had the capacity available as part of this reinforcement and upgrade of general power availability in the area, which was sufficient for our needs.”

King said that most data centres are fed by 11kv substations, whereas Volta has 33kv feeds from the two main substations that supply central London. These can be transformed down to 11kv within the building, and then transformed down again for distribution throughout the building.

Volta believes that the central London area it will be operating in is currently under-supplied with low-latency services. Apart from Interxion, which has a small data centre facility in Brick Lane, most of the major providers are either out in Docklands or west of London, and there is very limited opportunity to create new data centres.

King expects that its customers will be organisations that have a particular need for latency-sensitive services in the financial, media and content industries.

“We see two very specific classes of user within the building,” he said. “One is definitely what is going on at Silicon Roundabout, but we will probably only attract those who need and require ultra-low latency.

“Quite separately, we will also be very attractive to specialist users in the City – those that are regulated and need dual locations, but they need them relatively close so as to keep up the speed of transmission between those locations.”

Volta will take ownership of the site in June 2012, and expects the data centre to be fully operational from January 2013, following a complete refurbishment. The building already has a number of telecommunication providers including Colt, Verizon, C&W, BT, AboveNet, EU networks and Geo Networks, allowing potential customers immediate connectivity.

The Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of the facility is not yet known, as it will depend on the IT infrastructure that customers choose to install, but Volta is using free air cooling to reduce energy consumption, and hopes to achieve a PUE of 1.5.

“I hope we'll actually do better, but again this is something that is still evolving as we work through our final designs,” said King.

The project is entirely backed by equity funding from funds managed by Apollo Global Management, LLC’s real estate group, Apollo Global Real Estate Management and Glebe London Limited Partnership.

Volta will be exhibiting at the TradeTech event, taking place at the Excel Centre in London from 24-26 April.



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