Julian King, Volta Q&A: London's newest data centre

01 April 2013 | Mitch Sayers


Capacity spoke to Julian King, commercial director of UK based data centre provider Volta, to find out how its London facility was shaping up.

With the data centre weeks away from completion, Volta has just switched on the building's power for the first time.

Here, commercial director Julian King discusses how it's been developing the iconic site and what can be expected once it's open. 

Q | Why did you choose this site as your first London venture?

In terms of history, the Great Sutton Street building has been a data centre for 25 years. It was used by Reuters and provided financial services information for the whole of London. It has a really significant history in the sector.

Reuters owned and operated out of the building throughout the 1980s but they were bought out by BT in 2005 and, joined by Radianz, became BT Radianz in 2007. Reuters did remain, but it wasn’t their primary building anymore.

After 25 years of providing services, it needed refurbishment and BT’s core focus isn’t on the refurbishment of data centres. When their lease ran out in May 2011, the company decided not to renew it and we, at Volta, thought that with its history and infrastructure we could create something quite unique.

To find a 91,000 square feet building, stand alone, on an island site, which has planning consent for a data centre, has fibre availability, a tower and we were able to purchase as opposed to leasing was ideal. I don’t think there’s another one like this in London.

And, as my background is in real estate, I should know.

Q | Have there been any difficulties during the construction?

The construction on the building started in July 2012 and it took eight to 10 weeks just to strip the building. It is quite a complex refurbishment but we’re on track with it to open at the end of the second quarter, sometime in the summer.

Having a residential area around the data centre has meant we have had to apply for permission to close the road and had to send notifications to residents weeks in advance but it hasn’t been too bad.

We’re on track and delighted with it. It’s going to be a first class data centre.

Our backers understood our need to refurbish the building without having customers in advance so that’s been good.

Q | After finding the site, there was also some good fortune with the power supply. Is that correct?

We are very fortunate in terms of our power supply. UK power Networks were in the midst of a significantly upgrading and were able to re-route their 33 kV cable into our building, which is sitting between two sub-stations.

With eight companies connecting into the building, we feel this is quite a significant start to the data centre.

Q | What does the data centre offer to customers?

We are carrier neutral and offer the customers full and half racks at 4kW upwards, each with resilient powers of cooling, which can be tailored to provide solutions for anyone looking to outsource IT equipment to a safe facility. The site of the data centre is perfect for the financial services sector, providing sub-millisecond latency.

When finished, the site will have 4 upper floors for data rooms, a ground and basement floor comprising of transformers for the 33,000 volt input, five 11,000 volt transformers and a roof with three heat rejection chillers and the capacity for eight more.

Security is also a key advantage and we will offer 24 hour surveillance, and even bomb blast protection measures.

Q | Are there any plans for future developments?

The data centre market is quite a unique market and we will be looking at that in some detail once we have Great Sutton Street up and running.