BT will spend £14 million over the next seven years on a new south London data centre to strengthen its hosting and management services.

The 930-square metre facility, which will have biometric security features, should be complete by September and has additional room for expansion, BT said.

The company wants to grow its data services business by 20% a year with an emphasis on enterprise, public sector and financial services customers. BT estimates the data services market is worth £5.2 billion in Europe.

BT is revamping many of its 70 data centres across the U.K., said Rajiv Abeysinghe, BT's data centre transformation manager. Customers are asking for the ability to architect and host applications within BT data centres, he said.

BT is also looking to maximise its return on investment in data centres, looking at ways to cope with power requirements with an eye toward renewable energy. The company said it reduced its carbon emissions by 60% between 1996 and 2006, and is working to up that figure to 80% by 2016.

BT is asking vendors to make products with wider limits on temperature, humidity and air-quality, which could allow for more utility savings, Abeysinghe said.

The company is increasing the ratio of applications on each of its servers' central processing units (CPUs) while also looking at virtualisation technology. BT would like to increase its CPU virtualisation rate from around 7% to 10% to 80%.

"Virtualisation can provide us with greater efficiency," Abeysinghe said.