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Come friendly bit barns and fall on Slough: Equinix opens £90m data centre in London rust belt

Say it with us now: Despiiiiite Brexit

Equinix has opened a £90m colocation facility in godforsaken Slough – its ninth around Greater London and 12th in the UK.

The flagship bit barn, codenamed LD7, offers space for 1,750 server cabinets immediately, and will be expanded to 2,625 cabinets at some point in the future, the company said.

The data centre is located in an industrial suburb of Slough – the unofficial bit barn capital of the UK, hosting more data centres than any other place in the country, including four existing Equinix facilities.

LD7 features a chilled water-cooling system, in combination with adiabatic pre-cooling. It offers access to more than 90 network providers and several transatlantic fibre cables linking London and the US – Equinix claims this enables 30 millisecond latency to New York.

The project is part of the company's £295m investment into the UK infrastructure throughout 2018/19. In addition to the all-new LD7, Equinix is spending £94m to expand LD9 (formerly known as Telecity's Powergate), £82m to expand LD10 (formerly operated by IO), and another £24m to expand LD4.

Including all the current expansion projects, Equinix will have invested over $1.2bn into UK infrastructure.

The company said its expansion plans support London as a "financial hub" and one of the leading cities for business, regardless of the outcome of the never-ending negotiations around Blighty's departure from the European Union.

The cash injection for LD7 was revealed last year, and got a shout-out from the embattled Brit prime minister herself.

"Equinix's investment reflects the growing demand for digital financial services in the City of London, and is a vote of confidence in its future as the world's premier financial hub. This is exactly where we want to be heading," UK PM Theresa May told the Confederation of British Industries in November 2018.

"London has maintained its position as one of the most important connection points in the world," said Russell Poole, managing director of Equinix UK, not forgetting to add the oft-heard caveat "despite the ongoing Brexit negotiations".

He added: "[T]his new data centre will be a welcome addition to our burgeoning London Slough campus, whilst also supporting the rollout of 5G in the UK."

Meanwhile, both LD9 and LD10 will feature dedicated space for hyperscale infrastructure – in essence, reserved for major cloud vendors.

Hyperscale cloud companies are an increasingly important customer category for colos, with revenue from cloud growing by 24 per cent year-on-year in wholesale colocation, and 16 per cent in the retail colocation segment, according to Synergy. Compare this to the 10 per cent overall growth rate for colo, and you see where Equinix will make its money going forward. The company lists all three of the world's largest cloud vendors – AWS, Azure and GCP – among its customers.

"Many Equinix customers are also hyperscale customers and are working with Equinix in part because of how we enable them to work with their hyperscale vendors," Eric Schwartz, chief strategy and development officer at Equinix, told The Reg earlier this month.

"Growing those relationships is important – we've been pretty transparent about the fact that the return on a large hyperscale deployment is lower than the return we earn on our more traditional business – but it's still a return and it's still an attractive deployment of capital."

Equinix operates more than 200 data centres across 52 geographic markets. ®


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