E3 builds high density data centre in Sydney

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E3 builds high density data centre in Sydney

The first 780 square metres of a 2700 square metre facility close to completion.

Data centre operator E3 Networks is close to completing the construction of a high density data centre in Sydney, with an adjacent larger facility due to come online in June 2010.

The company - which already operates data centres at capacity in Melbourne and Brisbane under the 'Pegasus' brand - is building a data centre facility in the inner Sydney industrial hub of Alexandria, over four stages, with the first two stages due to come online on December 7.

The first two stages consist of two floors housed within the  smaller of two buildings on the site  - the bottom floor measuring 400 square metres of computing space and the top floor 380 square metres (due to columns on the upper level).

This first building is expected to be kitted out within a week from today and live for customer use on December 7.

In June 2010, E3 plans to bring a second, larger building online adjacent to the first - with two levels of data centre space at 1000 and 924 square metres respectively.

The Sydney Pegasus facility is located on a shared block with Hannan Print - which requires significant levels of electricity to power its machines. Collectively, the two companies have convinced their local energy utility to provide them new lines and build a 36 MVA (mega volt ampere) substation.

This allows E3 to offer a standard rack of 7.2kW, plus customised pods for higher density customers of up to 30kW per rack.

E3 Networks CEO Jon Eaves said Alexandria is a prime position for a data centre, being that it has had a single brown out in five years - which only lasted 11 seconds.

The site will be connected to important communications hubs via fibre links provided by PIPE Networks and NextGen networks.

High demand

Eaves said the company decided to build its own Sydney data centre after being stung by additional fees when attempting to offer high density hosting within existing Sydney data centres.

"We don't expect to compete with Equinix or Global Switch," he said. "In fact, we are a customer of Global Switch. But we found that when you required extra power the costs there were - not so much ridiculous as - not very cost effective," he said. "The cheapest option for us was to build our own facility."

But despite the build of its Pegasus facility, the company will continue to offer services from racks housed within Equinix and Global Switch,  in order to provide broader communications and disaster recovery options.

Eaves said the two floors of rack space in the first stage of the Sydney Pegasus facility are already filled with three anchor tenants, and the company is now taking orders for the larger two rooms, due to come online in June.

One of the existing tenants, Eaves said, required an incredible 300kW of power or up to 30kW per cabinet - the kind of density difficult to attain in most data centres today.

The Pegasus data centre in Brisbane, built in 2006, filled within two years and the Melbourne facility, built in October 2008, filled within just two months.

Read on for more on free cooling and interior fit-out...

Free cooling

The Sydney Pegasus data centre will feature a version of 'free cooling' which uses the ambient outside air to cool water chillers housed on the roof of the building, the water from which is used to cool down the computing equipment inside.

"If the outside air drops below 15 degrees, the compressors on the chiller switch off and go into standby mode," Eaves said. "And between 15 and 22 degrees, they operate in a low cycle mode."

Eaves said Sydney is "the best place in Australia for free cooling" a data centre.

"It is less than 22 degrees Celsius for three quarters of the year," he said. "So for 274 days you can use outside air."

Eaves conceded that Tasmania and Melbourne would potentially be better options, if only the power grid and fibre connectivity options were as diverse in these areas.

APC demo centre

Rack and cooling company APC will provide the hot aisle containment infrastructure for the interior fit-out of the data centre.

The Sydney Pegasus data centre will also be the demo centre for APC's latest range of kit.

"It is one thing to read about hot aisle containment - and another to see it working in real-time," Eaves said. "This is an amazing piece of gear."

Despite using free cooling, Eaves is hesitant to paint himself as a "green IT" eco-warrior.

"Anybody who says that are building a green data centre is kidding themselves," he said. "We are using up to 30kW per rack here.

"Free cooling is about saving money and power - you will hardly see data centre operators out there planting trees."

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