Photo Tour: Iliad’s DC3 Data Center on Paris Outskirts
A pod filled with Dalymotion’s caching servers at an Iliad data center outside of Paris (Photo: Yevgeniy Sverdlik)

Photo Tour: Iliad’s DC3 Data Center on Paris Outskirts

Provider scales data center using massive factory-manufactured metal rooms

Paris is a good place to run a data center business. It is a major European business center, but unlike other European business centers, electricity there is relatively cheap, because France’s predominantly nuclear generation has ensured an abundance of energy.

The city’s extensive underground sewer system, famous for its role in the French Revolution and World War II and described by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables, has also been used to build out fiber network infrastructure, so connectivity in the city is abundant as well.

One of the biggest data center providers in Paris is Iliad SA, better known for being one of the country’s largest telcos. But it also has a sizable hosting and colocation business, with two large data centers in and around Paris and a nascent bare-metal cloud service, offering on-demand ARM-powered servers.

Iliad’s data center business is run by Arnaud de Bermingham, CEO of the company’s hosting division called Online.net. de Bermingham, who came up with the standard data center design the company now uses across its footprint, gave Data Center Knowledge a tour of one of the facilities in November.

Arnaud de Bermingham, CEO of Online.net, in front of an Eaton UPS unit at Iliad's DC3 data center

Arnaud de Bermingham, CEO of Online.net, in front of an Eaton UPS unit at Iliad's DC3

Huge Fire-Containing Data Center Modules

Iliad’s 25-megawatt DC3 data center, located in Vitry-sur-Seine, a Paris suburb just south of the city, was built about two years ago. It is one of two data centers in the country and the only hosting data center in the country to have received Uptime Institute’s Tier III certification for design documents. No data center in France has received Tier certification for constructed facility.

The hosting data center has several unique features, one of which is the use of massive metal rooms as a way to build out capacity.

The big metal boxes are manufactured at a factory and shipped to the building for assembly. Each box has its own electrical and mechanical infrastructure. One of the benefits of this approach is fire containment. If there is a fire, the metal walls will isolate it for up to two hours, de Bermingham said.

Each room has capacity for about 350 kW and 132 IT racks and takes six weeks to fit out. It has four IT power loops and two cooling power loops. Each of the IT loops cannot be loaded to more than 75 percent of capacity, so if one goes down, the remaining three can pick up the load. This four-and-two setup is what gives the data center concurrent maintainability, the all-important standard required for Tier III certification.

Another unique feature is concrete-encased electrical busway, which is another fire-avoidance measure.

Encasing electrical busway in concrete is a design feature de Bermingham came up with to enhance fire protection

Encasing electrical busway in concrete is a design feature de Bermingham came up with to enhance fire protection

The data center's cooling capacity is adjusted automatically based on the amount of power consumed (power meters pictured)

The data center's cooling capacity is adjusted automatically based on the amount of power consumed (power meters pictured)

UPS and transfer switches serving one of the big data halls at Illiad's DC3

UPS and transfer switches serving one of the big data halls at Illiad's DC3

The data center relies primarily on mechanical cooling but does use free cooling about 30 percent of the year, according to de Bermingham

The data center relies primarily on mechanical cooling but does use free cooling about 30 percent of the year, according to de Bermingham

Cold-aisle isolation: a fairly standard feature in modern data centers

Cold-aisle isolation: a fairly standard feature in modern data centers

While Iliad is a connectivity services provider itself, it does not provide bandwidth to its data center customers, keeping its colocation and hosting business carrier-neutral

While Iliad is a connectivity services provider itself, it does not provide bandwidth to its data center customers, keeping its colocation and hosting business carrier-neutral

Room to Grow

There is enough space and power to add two more big rooms at the site. The company also plans to build out DC4, an undeveloped building it owns in Paris proper. That building has a nuclear bunker.

The Online.net cloud was launched only recently and currently lives in DC2, an older facility in Vitry-sur-Seine. If demand for its cloud services grows, the company will expand the infrastructure to other locations, including the U.S.

While there is a building called DC1 in Iliad’s portfolio – the facility used to belong to Exodus Communications, the colocation company that went out of business following the dot-com bust of the late 90s – the building currently sits unused.

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