I didn’t quite appreciate it, however over the years, I’ve become a data center geek! My job doesn’t involved working daily in a data center, but when I do get to visit one, I find the facilities and energy design principles and practices employed absolutely fascinating!
I jumped, then, when I had the chance to visit a brand new data center just over the road from my Cisco office in central Scotland. DataVita, a new entrant to the local data center services market, are operating this brand new data center. Three key aspects of the DataVita new build really struck me: Innovation, in energy efficiency in particular, Quality, and Design for Agility. You can gain a sense of these by watching the virtual tour video:
Let’s now discuss how DataVita has achieved these key attributes in more depth.
What is most impressive, in my view, is how DataVita have innovated and designed for energy efficiency. Their Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric of 1.18 is very impressive. To provide some perspective on this, the Cisco Allen data center reported at its opening in 2011 a PUE of 1.35, while Google show continual improvement in trailing twelve-month energy-weighted average PUE from 1.21 in 2008 to 1.12 over the past year. Energy efficiency helped by use of free air cooling. You can’t do this in many places in the world, but our often cool, mild and wet Scottish climate makes us an ideal data center location 🙂 It’s this intense innovative focus by DataVita on energy efficiency that is enabling them to offer ultra-competitive pricing for their data center services.
It is notable that they take 100% renewable energy from mains power. In the UK at least, this is tricky to guarantee, especially if you mandate that the energy supply companies provide formal certifications guaranteeing that your data center always receives only renewable energy. And the roof-based cooling equipment, supported by a specially reinforced roof which can withstand 12 Newton tonnes of equipment per square foot (!), makes particularly impressive use of space!
ACI Enabled from Day 1
Software-defined networking was an early architectural decision in the data center infrastructure design, and Cisco ACI chosen as the DataVita core SDN platform. Cisco ACI, then, is the enabler for customers to consume cloud services – public, third party and private cloud – making the DataVita data center most-definitely cloud enabled. Their Cisco ACI platform has been designed and implemented by Cisco partner Hutchison Networks – and it’s already live delivering value to DataVita customers.
For DataVita, their definition of quality, among other attributes, includes offering a 100% uptime SLA and actually being able to meet this. It includes security built-in, physical and logical. In our discussions as we toured the plan, we discussed many aspects of resiliency and how it contributed to the overall DataVita quality ethos.
One key example is where DataVita have put in place a Tier IV resiliency design, including. N+N UPS systems (some DCs will just go for N+1 failover) – despite the fact that overall their’s is officially a Tier III facility. However it was when we were able to see, at first hand, the size of the backup generators (see below), which protect against the unlikely even of mains power failure, that the DataVita commitment to resiliency really came though. Wow they are big, as the photo shows!
Physical security was also very impressive, unfortunately essential in today’s volatile world, as was their vehicle ‘air lock’ and their 10 (!) layers of security combined with two factor authentication to gain access to a data center cabinet. And I thought getting into the Cisco office was tough 🙂
Reading this, you may be wondering “why not just use Amazon Web Services?” As well as innovation and quality, agility is a key benefit Data Vita have designed for. They are very clearly targeting the local Scotland and UK data center market, where data privacy and EU regulations may require local data storage which other data center providers can’t offer. DataVita are also thinking ahead. Their low latency services will put them in an impressive position to capture the opportunities arising from both Scotland’s 5G infrastructure rollout and planned support for autonomous cars.
Agility has been designed in to both technology and processes. As well as being Cisco ACI-enabled, DataVita even provide on-site customer build rooms to help customers who choose to host their own data center equipment in the DataVita facility, adding to their overall value proposition around delivering customer agility.
All in all it was a fascinating tour of this future-proofed data center. Please do take some time to view their virtual tour. Finally, you can find out more about DataVita on their web site and in their topical blog.