From warehouse to (data)warehouse: Virtus keeps it cool in North London

From warehouse to (data)warehouse: Virtus keeps it cool in North London

Summary: A warehouse north of London is on the verge of completing its transformation into a datacentre


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  • The heat-generating servers are kept at the right temperature by pumping cool air up into the 'cold aisles' that they sit either side of. 

    "There's a fan like you have on a PC that pulls the hot air out the back of the server while pulling the cold air in through the front to keep the server cool," said Watkins.

    The hot air is extruded out of the back and rises towards the ceiling by convection. It eventually gets sucked back into one of the air conditioning units and is transported to the large cooling units outside the warehouse where it is cooled down again. 

    Again, the sites has 'N+1' cooling units, so there are four but only three are needed at any one time for operation.

    When Enfield air temperatures are below a certain threshold the pumps will use the water's natural temperature to avoid expending unnecessary energy.

    Image: Sam Shead

  • The datacentre has diverse fibre and power supplies which enter the building at opposite ends, and enable the facility to continue operating as normal even if one of the feeds experiences problems. 

    The power supply consists of two 8MW 11KV feeds from the National Grid but Watkins said that the site will never use the full 8MW. He claimed that the site is currently drawing on less than 20 percent of that. 

    Nonetheless, datacentres are power-hungry environments and all that power doesn't come cheap. Ultimately, the amount of energy used is determined not by Virtus but by the clients inside the datacentre. 

    "The energy bill depends upon the amount of power that tenants draw, which we can't control," said Watkins. 

    When operating at full capacity, the site will draw 8MW of power per hour, which is equivalent to 27,000 houses.

    Image: Sam Shead

  • These lithium batteries are in fact a Tier IV feature and are included within the datacentre just in case, on the extremely rare occasion, both of the National Grid feeds fail. 

    "The batteries offer uninterrupted power supply," said Watkins. "If there's a power failure, the batteries have enough stored charge to take the IT load while the generator is warmed up."

    Image: Sam Shead

Topics: Cloud, Big Data, Data Centers, Datacentre Tour, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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