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New Tenants for Verne’s Modular Colo in Iceland

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This 5,400 square foot data hall is assembled from 37 modules built in a factory by Colt, and then deployed at the Verne Global data center in Iceland. (Source: Colt).

Has Iceland arrived as a data center destination? Today marked a coming-out party for the leading player in the nascent Iceland data center market, as Verne Global unveiled its new “modular colo” data center in Keflavik, along with three new tenants.

Today’s event for analysts and media also served as a showcase for the use of modular designs to rapidly deploy data center space in remote locations with vast sources of renewable power. Working with modular specialist Colt, Verne Global was able to create a 500 square meter (5,400 square foot) data center in four months. The data center hall consists of 37 modules that were built in the UK and then shipped to Iceland, where they were assembled into a completed data center.

Modular Design Meets Renewable Energy

The new facility, built in a former NATO command center, takes advantage of Iceland’s vast supply of renewable energy (hydroelectric and geothermal), along with a cool climate that allows the year-round use of outside air for free cooling for the entire year. Colt customized its modular data center hall design, equipping it with cooling modules that allow Verne to cool servers using air from outside the data center. In winter months, the system gives Verne the option of mixing the chilly outside air with exhaust heat from servers.

“With Colt’s modular approach, we have the ability to streamline the design process while leveraging Colt’s factory controlled fabrication process to ensure quality,” said Jeff Monroe, CEO at Verne Global. “This approach also provides Verne Global with the opportunity to quickly scale capacity to address customer demand in a rapid timeframe.”

Last fall Verne announced managed hosting provider Datapipe as the first tenant for its facility. Today Verne announced three new customers:

  • Game developer CCP Games (CCP), the creator of the EVE Online virtual world, is moving some of its corporate hosting to Verne’s Iceland campus. After studying alternatives to its primary hosting facility in London, CCP chose Verne based on the site’s renewable power grid and strategic location between its two primary markets. But a key factor was Verne’s ability to offer fixed power pricing for extended contracts. “Being able to select a green data centre for our corporate hosting needs is a key benefit to CCP Games,” said Ingvar Bjarnason, CCP’s IT Director. “However, the primary reasons for selecting Verne Global above all other alternative sites were the availability and predictability of power and the option of securing long-term price guarantees at attractive price levels.”
  • GreenQloud, which offers carbon-neutral cloud services,is basing its hosting service from the Verne campus. GreenQloud offers hosting and storage for the European and North American markets, and the Iceland site can act a single hub for both markets. GreenQloud was founded in 2010 and is privately funded by Icelandic investors and has won several government grants.
  •  IT service provider Opin Kerfi has been selected as Verne’s preferred systems integrator. Opin Kerfi has served as the IT partner for leading Icelandic companies, offering solutions from HP, Microsoft and Ciso. Opin Kerfi is also taking space in the data centre for its own hosting requirements to support its growing managed services business. “Our rich history, dedicated IT support team and established relationships with leading solution providers such as HP, Microsoft, Cisco and others will help ensure that Verne Global’s customers have the support needed to succeed,” said Gunnar Guðjónsson, CEO of Opin Kerfi.

Colt also announced plans to extend its European network into Iceland with a new Point-of-Presence (PoP) that will connect Colt’s backbone with the Verne’s data center site, providing a gateway connection from mainland Europe into Iceland.

The launch of the Verne Global facility opens a new chapter for the company and its host country. Verne announced the project in early 2008, but has taken a while to complete its concept and line up customers – which wasn’t always easy when Iceland was making headlines for its economic crisis and ash-spewing volcanic eruptions.

Development Effort Dates to 2007

Iceland’s efforts started even earlier.  In 2007 the government of Iceland began been touting the country as an affordable destination for data center development, citing its abundant supply of geothermal power. The country has other data centers, including the Thor facility, which also uses modules.

That’s helping Iceland emerge as a case study in strategies that pair modular design with renewable energy, which is growing in importance as more companies make corporate commitments to sustainable operations. Colt has been on the front lines of efforts to make modular designs more attractive to enterprise customers, adapating multi-module systems that can be joined to create a conventional data hall, rather than a simple container.

“We are continuously working to improve our modular design allowing customers to operate at maximum efficiency no matter what the environmental conditions or where the data centre is located,” said Bernard Geoghegan, Executive Vice President at Colt Data Centre Services. “We can deliver it almost anywhere in the world. The customization of Verne Global’s data centre campus demonstrates this
flexible approach to our customers’ needs.”

“Partnering with Colt enables us to have a purpose-built facility supporting our mission of delivering the world’s first dual-sourced renewably powered data center,” said Monroe. “We see a strong demand in the colocation market and we required a partner who could provide highly resilient, flexible data centre space, configured to our specific technical requirements.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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