Rackspace has officially brought online its massive cloud data center in Crawley, U.K., about 30 miles south of London. Designed and built together with San Francisco-based developer and data center provider Digital Realty, it is one of the largest and most energy efficient facilities in the Windcrest, Texas-based managed-service provider’s portfolio.
While the site will be accessible to Rackspace customers anywhere around the world, the company said it expects most demand to come from customers in the U.K. and the rest of Europe. Rackspace and Digital Realty first announced plans to build the U.K. facility in 2013.
This is Rackspace’s tenth cloud data center worldwide and second in the U.K. The company also has a data center in Slough, and the two are both connected to its London metro fiber network ring, which also connects them to major peering exchanges in London.
Rackspace claims the building is extremely energy efficient due primarily to the design of its cooling system. It uses indirect outside-air cooling technology, which uses outside air for heat transfer but doesn’t actually pull any of the outside air through equipment on the IT floor. This kind of free-cooling technology is usually applied in high-pollution areas.
The approach eliminates the need for mechanical cooling, the more prevalent data center cooling technology that needs a lot of power.
To reduce energy draw further, cooling units are mounted on the roof and deliver air to the IT floor with little pressure drop. This allows Rackspace to deploy high-density IT racks, since pressure drops weaken the flow of cool air through IT equipment.
Some of the water used by the cooling system comes from a rainwater-harvesting system on the facility’s roof.
First phase of the data center provides 6 megawatts of capacity across two suites. The 130,000-square-foot building can accommodate another two suites of similar capacity, but the 15-acre campus has room for expansion up to 30 megawatts total.
The data center supports Rackspace’s own version of hardware built to Open Compute Project designs. According to the company, this approach has made its infrastructure more scalable and energy efficient.
Here's a photo tour, courtesy of Rackspace: