Inside Rackspace's UK cloud datacentre

Inside Rackspace's UK cloud datacentre

Summary: The Slough-based facility is preparing to expand as the company builds its UK cloud, adopts new cooling techniques and seeks to increase efficiency

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  • Rackspace's Slough-based datacentre

    Rackspace's Slough-based datacentre houses the hardware for its UK cloud, along with the other servers rented by its customers. It has 1,600 racks in place, of which 120 support its cloud.

    The datacentre, in operation since June 2008, is in the process of being expanded. The company is adding a further data hall, which will bulk up the facility's IT floor space by 17,000 square feet, to a total of 89,000. At the same time, Rackspace is bringing in new cooling systems to increase the efficiency of the site and cut its power costs.

    Rackspace's server hardware is predominantly supplied by Dell. It operates a multi-vendor networking approach: Cisco is the predominant provider of switching technology, while Juniper Networks supplies backbone services and Brocade provides equipment for load balancing.

    One of the key reasons for staying with Cisco is that it's "easy for hiring", Alberto Sandoval, director of product international at Rackspace, told ZDNet UK.

    Photo credit: Jack Clark


    See more of ZDNet UK's datacentre tour.

  • Datacentre room

    The datacentre has a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.7, though Rackspace hopes to lower this to an average of 1.59 once the third data hall is built.

    Cooling is achieved via computer room air-conditioning (Crac) units that pass cold air through the underfloor plenum. The current is then lifted into the servers and expelled as hot air at the back. Unlike numerous other datacentres, the racks are not enclosed.

    "If we were to box in the cold aisle, it wouldn't give us particularly good efficiency," Gary Boyd, the datacentre operations manager for the facility, said. He explained that Rackspace's use of Crac units means the facility has the air mix in the open areas at the top of the servers. External cooling coils are used to provide cool air when the exterior temperature is below 14°C.

    Photo credit: Jack Clark


    See more of ZDNet UK's datacentre tour.

  • Datacentre hall in construction

    According to Boyd, Rackspace plans to tweak its cooling approaches for the third data hall, which is in construction at the moment and due to open in August 2011.

    The new hall will aim to use free-air cooling from the outside. It will also run power via bus bars attached to overhead metal bars (pictured, top left). The company is considering enclosing the hot aisles of the servers with a plenum so that it has a tighter level of control over how much and where the hot air can mix with the cold.

    Photo credit: Jack Clark


    See more of ZDNet UK's datacentre tour.

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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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  • Great to see sound and knowledgeable providers expanding in the industry unlike some who have’nt a technical clue or financial stability like Redwire DC!
    JoeSpatali