If you ever drive west along the M4 past Newport and towards Cardiff you probably will already have spotted Next Generation Data (NGD) Europe's datacentre. It is one of the largest in the world, and is housed in what must also be one of Newport's biggest buildings.
The secure facility was originally constructed to house LG Hynix's planned semiconductor manufacturing operation in Newport. The building, which was never actually used by LG, has now been converted to a tier 3 data storage facility with 750,000 square feet of secure flexible space, configurable into self contained data halls of various size. The immense space could contain up to 19,000 racks including power hungry high density machines. NGD's first customers, BT and Logica, are already using the facility and a third major client is due to go live in the first half of this year.
The building’s heritage gives it some other unique advantages. For example, because of the specifications required for semiconductor manufacture, it is constructed on a massive concrete base designed to reduce the impact of earth tremors (actually to Californian earthquake standards) – although rare, such events do happen in the UK – there was a 2.9 magnitude earthquake in nearby Maestag in 2009.
It also has high capacity 180MVa power supply connected directly to the national grid and offers several fibre links, from multiple suppliers, providing high speed low latency (measured in single digit milliseconds to London according to Non Executive Director Simon Orebi Gann) connections for national and international communications. Newport is near a sub-sea landing point for transatlantic cables and the link back to London down the Thames corridor is 'phenomenal' says Orebi Gann talking about the facility's communications links.
Orebi Gann estimates that, given its size, it will take between five and eight years to fill the entire building. The top floor is large enough to take two jumbo jets wing tip to wing tip with only four columns interrupting the space, and there are probably only a handful of companies that would consider a single data hall of this size. However, Orebi Gann believes because of its advantages in location and construction, power, communications, economy of scale and high security Newport is a suitable site for more extreme real-time applications and trading systems as well as the range of datacentre applications.
NGD was set up by two ex-Cable & Wireless executives, Simon Taylor (Chairman) and Nick Razey (CEO).