Q&A WITH JULIAN KING, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR OF VOLTA DATA CENTRES.
In less than one year Volta has invested millions of pounds and approximately 150,000 man hours in stripping out and refurbishing the old BT Great Sutton Street data centre in Clerkenwell. In Q2 this year, the fit out will be completed and the 91,000 square feet facility will open its doors.
Julian King, Commercial Director of Volta Data Centres gave Best Execution a tour of the site. Between inspecting cooling systems and checking out carrier rooms, we asked Julian about his ambitions for the centre given its prime City location.
A considerable investment in a challenging climate, you must be confident that there is demand to be met?
Absolutely. When we conducted our due diligence, we could see increasing demand for a high quality centre from the ever-growing TechCity community on our doorstep and the City and financial services community in the Square Mile.
We could see the driving changes across the global financial services industry. Looking at the equities markets over the past 5 or 6 years, competition has had a huge impact. New competitive exchanges and liquidity venues have been born, creating market fragmentation which in turn created new algorithmic trading and order routing technology. This has had an explosive impact on market data volumes. Just look at the demand this has placed on exchanges, trading firms and their vendor communities in terms of data centre space, demand for co-location, connectivity, power and bandwidth.
Five years ago, if you had asked firms what they anticipated their requirements to be in 2013, it probably wasn’t even close to what they actually need today. And the challenge is not diminishing by any stretch of the imagination. As we know, regulation is driving other asset classes along similar avenues. Simply, we do not consider that the financial services community is served by sufficient data centre space to meet the future demand for trading engines, proximity services, data processing services, not to mention back up sites demanding a different location. We have been encouraged that even before we have completed the fit out as there has been considerable interest from a wide range of financial services firms.
There is stiff competition out there, why would a trading firm come to Volta?
Other than our central London location, we believe there are a number of compelling reasons.
Firstly, our low latency connectivity. One of the appealing attributes of the building was its history as a financial services data centre for some 25 years. This meant that many of the world’s leading carriers already had their fibre in the building. Over the course of our fit out, even more carriers have installed their lines. As such, we sit on all the high speed networks which provide connectivity to all the trading venues including, for example LD4, Basildon, LSE. We are already connected. This means that any firm in the data centre will not only benefit from a central highly-connected location, but also from the latency arbitrage opportunities this can offer. This can be particularly appealing for international trading firms looking to trade the European markets. They will literally be located midway between Slough and Basildon and very close to the City-based matching engines.
Secondly, our resilience. We have contracted with UK Power Networks, which has installed a new 9.6 MegaWatt power supply. Unlike most data centres in Central London, which are supplied at 11KV, Volta is supplied at 33KV. We don’t just have one transformer, we have installed two. More than this, the building is supplied from two separate power substations, from two separate parts of the national grid. Quite simply the only way in which Volta could ever lose power would be in the unlikely event of whole of London losing power. This makes us uniquely resilient.
Security is clearly very important to the financial services trading community.
Absolutely and this has been a key part element to our fit out. We have not only made it more powerful, more resilient but also more secure than ever before. Not only has the building served as a data centre for the last 25 years, we have set it up for the next 25.
How flexible is the space?
The space has been designed to be very flexible and we offer a variety of options. These range from single to multiple racks of 4KW upwards, half racks, to private caged areas offering 50KW upwards.
We have installed a new form of cooling system. A brand new fit out at the Great Sutton Street Data Centre gives us the luxury to adopt the very latest technology. Rather than use the traditional cooling systems which can often create challenges when filling space, we have installed ‘In Rack Cooling’, a modular system as modern as the very servers they seek to cool. The cooling system’s power consumption levels are significantly lower than traditional air conditioning systems and come with the stamp of approval by the Carbon Trust.
Returning our hard hats and high visibility jackets, Julian extends an invitation to any readers who would be welcome for a tour. What better opportunity to understand how a data centre really works, than towards the end of its fit out?©BestExecution | 2013