Inside Colt's modular co-location datacentre

Inside Colt's modular co-location datacentre

Summary: Colt's London 3 facility houses its new modular datacentre, featuring a design that aims to cut deployment times, cost and energy usage. ZDNet UK took a look behind the scenes


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  • The entrance to the new, modular data halls

    Over the coming year, ZDNet UK is visiting a variety of datacentres to get a behind-the-scenes look at the range of approaches being taken to meet the demand for data handling. In March, we visited the Colt modular datacentre, which is part of London 3, a much larger legacy Colt site in Welwyn Garden City.

    Colt operates 19 datacentres across Europe providing co-location and managed infrastructure services to a variety of businesses.

    With around over 1,000 racks spread across 100,000 square feet of IT space, and with an aggregate power drawdown of 33MVA, London 3 is one of Colt's most important datacentres. It represents six percent of the co-location provider's datacentre capacity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

    For this reason, Colt has chosen the site as a flagship for its new modular hall design for datacentres. The design method is based around minimising the amount of time it takes to construct a datacentre and is being touted by Colt's director of datacentre infrastructure services, Guy Ruddock, as the way of the future.

    ZDNet UK visited the site's two modular datacentres, data halls 3 and 4. Pictured is an empty, unracked module.

    "In three to five years, if you're building a bespoke datacentre, [you'll] be told you're mad," he said. "There's nobody near us."

    The manufacture and testing of the modules is done by Colt, before being shipped to the customer site. Colt has patents pending for its datacentre modules. Ruddock said the company has developed a design of the module that cuts the time it takes for it to be installed on site, but would not elaborate when asked for further details.

    Photo credit: Jack Clark

    See more of the datacentre tour on ZDNet UK.

  • Each module has 12 components running through its columns

    Ruddock (pictured) told ZDNet UK that the build out for the new halls started in December 2009 and the first customer was in by April 2010.

    Colt has based its design techniques on those used on offshore oil and gas platforms to minimise the amount of people it takes to fit a module, Ruddock said. He said that a crew performing on-site installation of a module would number less than 20 and could do it, in ideal circumstances, in between four and six days, although one installation had taken as long as three weeks.

    Another design, which Ruddock believes is unique to Colt, has services such as cabling, electricity and fire suppression running through the columns that support the module. This saves on space and, again, cuts the time it takes to cable a module, he said.

    The modules are manufactured in Yorkshire, then their infrastructure is tested. They are then broken down into small components that are trucked down to London on the backs of flatbed trucks for reassembly and installation. The installation, transportation and client-site integration process takes less than four months, Ruddock said.

    Photo credit: Jack Clark

    See more of the datacentre tour on ZDNet UK.

Topics: Datacentre Tour, Networking

Jack Clark

About Jack Clark

Currently a reporter for ZDNet UK, I previously worked as a technology researcher and reporter for a London-based news agency.

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