Locomotive Factory to Data Factory: Interxion's PAR7 Data Center Location Has Rich History
An Interxion data center in La Courneuve, a Paris suburb. (Photo: Interxion)

Locomotive Factory to Data Factory: Interxion's PAR7 Data Center Location Has Rich History

Interxion's PAR7 data center campus, one of the company's seven data centers in France, has a rich history rooted in the industrial revolution. The new data center is now a symbol of the new, digital revolution.

European data center specialist Interxion’s PAR7 is part of the transformation of the Parisian suburb, La Courneuve, from a former hub for heavy industry to a vibrant technology center. The data center is on the site of the former Corpet Louvet plant, which manufactured steam locomotives.

European data center specialist Interxion’s PAR7 is part of the transformation of Parisian suburb, La Courneuve, from a former industrial area to a vibrant technology center. The data center is the former Corpet Louvet plant, which manufactured steam locomotives.

Interxion’s newest data center campus in France has a rich history. Located at La Courneuve, a suburb located 8.3km north east from the center of Paris, the region played an integral role during the heart of the industrial revolution in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, it's part of the digital revolution.

European data center specialist Interxion’s PAR7 is part of an ongoing regeneration of La Courneuve and its transformation from a former industrial area to a vibrant technology center. The data center is the former Corpet Louvet plant, which manufactured steam locomotives. The company provided 1,962 trains during one of history’s major turning points. Two families, Corpet and Louvet, joined forces to launch the first steam locomotive in France.

Old Industrial Footprint

“We took over a piece of land that was very old commercial manufacturing plant. We rebuilt it completely,” said Fabrice Coquio, Managing Director of Interxion France. "The industrial revolution started with trains, then in early 20th century comes electricity. Now it’s the digital age. The site encapsulates the evolution of industry in Paris in the last 200 years. The East end is industrial.”

The location’s infrastructure makes it ripe for data center use. “Things are changing, but there are things remaining,” said Coquio. “We need electricity – a lot of data centers are establishing themselves in former industrial areas." As many in the data center industry know, a data center site needs available power, just as bricks-and-mortar industries, such as mills, manufacturing facilities required power. “The data center is the electrical factory of the future,” Coquio added.

New from the Old

“We had to destroy most of the former, very old building,” said Coquio. “We still kept two elements: the first is the former office of the plant manager. The second, there was a kind of weight in front of this building to check how many kilos the locomotives were representing before shipping. We kept this as well.” While the data center is a new facility with very modern design, the company kept these two flourishes as a reminder of the location’s rich history. It gives the location a distinctive personality, and shows a sort of evolution of industry.

A view of the factory floor of the Corpet Louvet plant while it was in operation building steam locomotives.

A view of the factory floor of the Corpet Louvet plant while it was in operation building steam locomotives.

$165 Million Facility Investment

“We’re a data center specialist. We design build and operate data centers. We do not want to compete with our customers, we claim to be what we call neutral data centers,” said Coquio.

Interxion invested what equals to $165 million USD in PAR7. It’s a very large data center, with the company managing over 4,500 square meters of data hall space, and offering high power, with 65 Megawatts available. It’s high-density data center, offering up to 25-30 kW per rack. “It’s good for customers around density, cloud, or digital media services,” said Coquio. The site houses three Internet exchanges, making it a major hub.

One interesting and unique feature of the location is that the inside the power distribution is 20,000 volts. This is more costly than distributing at 400 volts, which is the standard in the industry. “The higher the voltage, the less loss,” said Coquio. ”We save 0.2 of PUE, so it’s not a minor advantage. PUE is the combination of many designs and solutions,” Coquio states, as several design considerations were taken outside of the power distribution. However, it’s unique to Interxion in France. “We are the only one in France that is able to build and maintain a power distribution like this,” said Coquio. “It requires a lot of expertise to run.”

The site features 2N+1 redundancy, on top of high density. It offers space from 1 rack to 1000 square meters. PAR7 officially opened on the 29th of November and implemented its first customer in 2012. The build-out lasted for exactly 11 months. Interxion announced the facility in summer of 2011.

The France Data Center Market

Interxion is a major player in France. It has the most data centers there and owns a sizeable chunk of the market.  The company has a total of seven data centers around Paris. “It’s the most dense region in Europe,” said Coquio.

While the economic crisis is effecting everywhere in Europe, Coquio is optimistic. “Last year wasn’t the best year, but we clearly see the market recovering,” said Coquio. “We’re still talking about a market growing 15-20 percent.”

Coquio founded Interxion France in 1999, and it has grown nicely over the years. France is the largest entity of the group at 19 percent of revenues. Second biggest is Germany, followed by Holland and the UK. The company has 27 percent of the Paris market.

“In the European data center market, the data center is always focused on the capital cities,” said Coquio. This holds true in France, but Coquio notes that the exception to this rule is Germany, which has notable data center concentration in Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Munich.

Interxion considers itself a neutral data center provider, in that it specializes in facilities and does not want to compete with its customers when it comes to cloud. “A bit more than 30 percent of our customers are multi-site,” said Coquio. The company’s multiple locations in Europe play a large part in its growth.

“Our customer base in Paris is quite different than what we have elsewhere,” said Coquio. “It’s much more about national corporations. We tend to have some specialties in western Europe. Paris is organized around connectivity, and our customers are large systems integrators like Cap Gemini. The cloud specialists are in London or Amsterdam.”

TAGS: Interxion
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