Power shortages squeeze London's data centres

Summary:News analysis: Can the capital cope with demand?

News analysis: Can the capital cope with demand?

Power supply issues and soaring lease costs in London are being blamed for forcing companies to look outside the M25 when building new data centres.

Accenture claims the lack of growth in new data centres, compared to demand in London means the capital only has about five per cent capacity for data centre space, forcing lease prices up by 60 per cent and making it increasingly unattractive as a data centre location.

John Cole, senior executive with Accenture's technology consulting practice, said: "The high prices and limited availability have led firms to consider locating their data centres outside of London."

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One company that has gone down that route is Netcetera, which has been building data centres for 11 years but is considering winding down its four London-based operations as it puts the finishing touches to a new 700-server-rack data centre on the Isle of Man.

Netcetera COO, Dave Boswell, said the new Isle of Man data centre's ability to deliver up to 30kW per rack is far greater than what it could offer in the short term at a London facility.

He said modern telecommunication equipment means alternative locations such as Birmingham, the Isle of Man or Manchester could more easily offer high performance at a cheaper price than London counterparts.

Boswell told silicon.com: "A lot of existing London data centres were built with 1kW or 2kW racks…but nowadays that is just not good enough. You can not add more racks to existing centres because there is no power for it and businesses' building data centres have been told by EDF Energy that they cannot supply what they need this side of the Olympics.

"This temporary Olympic blip and the ageing infrastructure in London are creating the need for data centres elsewhere. We expect that we will wind down our London data centres over the next few years."

In reality, alternative locations to London are limited because most new data centre sites need to be close to customers, many of whom are based in the Square Mile or Docklands.

Accenture's Cole said: "Until the technical constraints can be overcome the majority of firms will still look to place any new data centre sites within 100km of existing data centre sites, and close to their user base to limit performance degradation."

The well-established big data centre providers admit there are some short-term power supply issues but claim this isn't a problem in growing their data centre operations in the capital.

BT leases 6,000 square metres of data centre space within London, and 27 data centres across the UK, where it processes information for government departments and major players in the finance, telecommunication and retail industries.

Click here for page 2 of this article.

Topics: Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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