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Welsh data center expected to be Europe's most advanced

Margie Semilof
NEWPORT, SOUTH WALES -- With growing interest among IT shops for software services and hosting in general, the need for secure facilities to house those services has also increased in importance.

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To that end, an empty hulk of what was to be a semiconductor factory is about to put the small country of Wales on the map as home to Europe's most advanced data center.

Built in 1998 by Korean firm LG Semiconductor, the facility was abandoned when the Asian markets collapsed. For 10 years, the Welsh government has tried to fill the space. Finally, a group of entrepreneurs took over and began re-developing what will become the Next Generation Data Center 1 (NGD 1), which is expected to open sometime early next year.

NGD 1 packs a power punch
Built at a cost of about $350 million, NGD 1 plans to offer 750,000 square feet of space with three floors and 18 halls to serve enterprises of any size. But its main selling point will be an abundance of power.

NGD 1 is connected to a substation that links to the U.K. national grid and can deliver power in 45 megavolt amperes (MVA), says Simon Taylor, the chairman of NGD 1 and the entrepreneur spearheading the project. "By comparison, competitors in London are trying to provide 2 or 3 MVA," he said. "It's a struggle for them to provide power. And demands will only increase with the Olympics coming [to London in 2012]." "Power in Wales is 30% to 50% cheaper, so a [hosting] package is 30% to 50% cheaper here than in London," he said.

The main selling point of NGD 1 will be an abundance of power.
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NGD 1 is about a two-hour drive west of London. Britain's capital is more susceptible to terrorist attacks and flooding, and facilities in London have more limited power resources.

In addition to typical data center physical security, such as double-skin walls and retina scanning, NGD 1 has considered offering dedicated firewalls for small and-medium-sized customers to address their logical security concerns.

NGD 1 plans to build in accordance with the Uptime Institute's Tier 3 rating and is a carrier-neutral facility in that it offers connections with carriers such as British Telecom, Cable & Wireless, and NTL. Justin Jenkins, the facility project director, said NGD 1 is also in the process of trying to establish a direct connection to the trans-Atlantic cable. NGD 1's networking requirements may ultimately drive down the overall cost of bandwidth in the U.K.

Taylor said there is already a 10% commitment to the facility. Those heading the project hope to fill the space in three years. One hitch, however, maybe that they expected the facility to house companies from the financial services sector. With the collapse of the financial services industry, it may hinder these goals.

A potential customer for NGD1 is managed services provider eLinia. The Cardiff, Wales-based company tried to book space in another under construction data center that offered Tier 3 uptime, but the space was filled before the facility was finished. James Carnie, a technical architect at eLinia, said his company might consider hosting services at NGD 1 but any final decision will depend on when NGD 1 is completed.

Margie Semilof is the Senior News Director for SearchDataCenter.com's sister site SearchWinIT.com. Write to her at msemilof@techtarget.com. You can also check out our Data Center Facilities Pro blog.


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