Inside the Global Switch Sydney data centre

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Inside the Global Switch Sydney data centre
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Power consumption is an overriding theme at the Global Switch facility.

It is nearing the end of an 18-month power and cooling upgrade - part of the final build-out of the centre that has pushed it to 24,000 square metres of technical space.

"We've been a construction zone for the last three years," Reid said.

"We've done the last of the fit-outs of power and cooling equipment in the plant rooms.

"There's still around 4,000 m2 of [technical] space left but we're sitting here with an expectation it will be full by the end of the year."

Lack of saleable floor space is driving planning for the construction of Sydney2 but it's also a contributing factor to ongoing power usage reviews in the Sydney1 complex.

"We have a program running now involving our design engineers doing a full audit of where power is utilised throughout the building," Turvey said.

Reid said there could also be room for a rethink on ambient temperatures.

"We operate at 22°C but would like to think there's an opportunity to push that some more," Reid said.

"In the past, temperatures have been set without much thought for how much is actually needed for the equipment.

"We're going through a particularly rigorous review at the moment to reduce the impact of cooling on the environment while still meeting client requirements.

"You only have to look at some reviews happening in the industry globally that see reasonable operating temperatures ranging from 19°C up to 30°C. Whether those form the basis of future operating parameters here is one of the things we're looking at."

Turvey said that as Sydney1 approaches technical floor space capacity, its efficiency has increased generally.

"We get good efficiencies out of the building because of its scale," Turvey said.

"Heavyweight plant gets much more efficient as the building fills up but clients are also driving efficiency from their end as well."

It's an important point. As a wholesale space provider, Global Switch's own initiatives can only impact efficiency up to a level.

Although the centre does control the sub-floor plenum of the suites, it's ultimately the responsibility of the lessee to take steps to reduce power consumption within their individual environments.

This has the potential to stunt the ambient temperature review among other initiatives - at least, until clients buy into the changed way of thinking

"Our feeling is there's quite a bit of flexibility in the environmental ranges we operate to but we can't enforce that," Turvey said.

"Our opinion as a technical business is that people's equipment could easily handle much wider ranges without extra risk but clients have to determine which direction they want to go themselves."

He continued: "We can't influence whether clients turn the lights off or power down some kit at night.

According to Turvey, Sydney1 is in no danger of breaching its power window but he and the Global Switch engineering team will still work with clients "to stretch out their power allocations longer than they're predicted to last at the moment".

"If I look at actual utilisation against contracted power, it's at just over 50 percent," Turvey said.

"There are not many clients getting near the total power levels they're contracted to take."

But clients are taking more of an interest in reducing their consumption.

"I think there's a growing demand for data centre managers to take responsibility for power usage," Turvey said.

"It would be pretty surprising if there isn't a significant internal review by companies on what's happening in their data centres at the moment.

"Increasingly we've had clients indicate they could use some help in that area. We see it as a win-win that they want to go down that route.

"It's to our advantage [extending the life of Sydney1] but also a lot of companies just don't know how to go about it. We can leverage our infrastructure expertise to assist in that area."

Reid said that Global Switch will continue reviewing operations to eke out every last bit of efficiency possible.

"One of the things we've been re-assessing is what it means to be a provider of premium space in Sydney," he said.

"We're looking at how we approach the centre design in a way that makes us still relevant to the market and places us as a premium supplier."

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