Finland's largest, greenest multi-tenant datacentre on the way before 2017

The facility, which will cost up to €130m, will be built near Helsinki.
Written by Eeva Haaramo, Contributor

Finland's plans to become a global data hub are getting a significant boost from Finnish-Swedish mobile operator TeliaSonera. Sonera, the Finnish half of the carrier, has announced plans to build a datacentre in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, due to be completed at the end of 2017.

The project, costing between €130m and €150m, will be funded by institutional investors and other partners and has generated headlines in Finland as Sonera claims the datacentre will be among the largest in the country.

"Sonera's new Helsinki datacentre will be the largest single site, multi-tenant datacenter in Finland measured both in white space and IT power," says Eero Lindqvist, senior offering manager at Sonera's enterprise services group. "Google and Yandex have larger datacentres in Finland, but they are for internal use only."

According to Sonera the datacentre will have a 30MW capacity and a maximum theoretical capacity of up to 100MW. It will be used to power the carrier's existing and upcoming networking, security, and communications services as well as to grow the company's colocation business targeted at cloud providers, enterprises, and public organisations.

"We have been facing a constant and growing demand for datacentre facilities from our business customers, partners, and internal units that we have been unable to fulfil," Lindqvist says. "Also as businesses are more and more going digital, we believe networks and datacentres will form the critical backbone structure for this."

Green credentials

Furthermore Sonera hasn't stopped at size, but proposes its datacentre will be the most energy-efficient in Finland. While the company has not yet released details on how it aims to achieve its green claim, Lindqvist says Sonera is not hunting for the lowest possible Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score or any other single aspect of 'greenness'. Instead the company is focusing on sustainability as the datacentre will be built to stay at its current location for at least 30 years.

"This means the datacentre design and implementation must be flexible and modular to adapt to the constant change, development and refresh of technology in all areas," Lindqvist says. "One example of this is that datacentres [today] have dedicated UPS systems. However Microsoft has presented a server design that incorporates the UPS into the server. If this becomes the dominant server design in the future, we must able to transform the UPS rooms to white space or for some other purpose."

More immediately Sonera plans to implement the "latest technology" in cooling and power generation to target a PUE of around 1.2. For comparison, Google claims to have a PUE of 1.14 at its Hamina datacentre whereas globally the average PUE was 1.7 in 2014, according to the annual datacentre industry survey of Uptime Institute.

However, for Sonera PUE is not the only important metric.

"We feel that the real value comes from harvesting the waste heat [generated by the datacentre] with heat pumps and utilising it through a distributed heating system, so we are more concerned with energy reuse effectiveness, ERE, than PUE," Lindqvist argues. "Also the 110 kV electric network connection to the datacentre minimises transfer losses and gives more reliable electricity. All the electricity used in the datacentre is green and from renewable sources, mainly hydro and wind power."

With its ambitious plans, Sonera is joining a growing group of recent datacentre propositions in Finland. In May, German hosting company Hetzner Online announced plans to locate a datacentre in the Helsinki region and Finnish-Israeli startup Aiber Network signed an agreement with the city of Tampere to build a high security datacentre in a former military grade underground cave.

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