Lefdal Mine is a brand new entrant to the Norwegian data centre market whose vision is to be the biggest, greenest and best value data centre in Europe.  It will join just a handful of highly secure, underground data centres and will offer an attractive range of colocation options to businesses all over Europe.

The entire data centre will be built around a network of streets and avenues, interconnected via a two-way spiral road designed to take full size container Lorries.  The layout of the centre is carefully crafted to house specially designed, portable, modular data centre containers. These stackable containers, developed in partnership by Rittal and Lefdal Mine Datacentre, are ‘plug and play’ on arrival. Each has independent fire detection and suppression, access security and redundancy in addition to that offered by the surrounding data centre infrastructure.

Colocation customers can choose from a range of power densities of between 2 and 20kW for their equipment and those not buying into the standard modular system can commission bespoke suites tailored down to the smallest detail. There will also be as number of data halls, which should help Lefdal appeal to smaller businesses looking to colocate a small number of servers.

Connectivity options at Lefdal will be limited to three main carriers within the building, one of which is part owned by the data centre owners.  The fibre connectivity will be fully redundant and offer average latency, with a 10ms lag to London and 15ms to Berlin.

Location

Lefdal Mine Data Centre is a carrier neutral data centre complex which is situated within a disused mineral mine in Måløy, a small fjord town on the west coast of Norway in the Sogn og Fjordane region. It is located completely underground with access available via just two entrances. This makes the site extremely secure, with additional security measures including specially trained security forces, intelligent CCTV and a three-stage authentication protocol for access.

The data centre is set to open to its first tenants in summer 2016 and will begin with one level before gradually scaling up to fill the existing six levels over the coming years .  The Lefdal data centre has the capacity to expand up to fourteen floors as demand requires and the total floor space that would be available when fully complete will be around 120,000 m², which would make it the biggest data centre in Europe and possibly even the world.

Lefdal is being built to match Tier III standards, although it won’t be certified as such. It will offer extensive redundancy on power and cooling, with dual feeds (each N+1 redundant) to each building within the centre offering an overall 2N+1 to each and every rack.  A third independent feed is planned to increase reliability in the future.

Energy

Lefdal is 100% powered on locally sourced, renewable energy from both hydro- and wind power.The former (98.5%) will be supplied from four hydroelectric generation plants within a short distance of the facility.

Cooling will be achieved by pumping ice cold seawater from the nearby deep Fjord through pipes that run through the service tunnels between the levels and street network.

Funding/business model

Lefdal is heavily supported by the Norwegian government, who have provided funding to the 250 million NOK project via the Ministry of Governmental Administration and Reform. The founders also received funds from Innovation Norway too.

Almost one third of its shares are held by the German industrialist Friedhelm LoH Group, the parent company of Rittal whose secure data centre products, such as racks, power supplies and cooling technologies, are used in the build-out.  The rest of the shares are held by Sogn Fjordane Energi (16%) and almost 51% are held by local investors.

Customers and partners

Lefdal currently has two customers signed up to move into the data centre once it is operational and both of those customers have an active interest in the businesses. IBM, who was behind the plan to convert the mind from the start and helped the buildout, was the first future tenant to sign on the dotted line. Part owner, the German company Friedhelm LoH Group, is also signed up as a client.

A fantastic offering providing location isn’t an issue

Lefdal data centre seems to package almost everything a colocation customer could want at a very reasonable cost.  Low energy, low carbon footprint and high availability, security and connectivity will be a big draw to big clients who have the flexibility to locate their systems anywhere in the world. Medium latency connectivity may overcome some reservations about the remote location, but for smaller businesses that aren’t based in or around Norway; the location is likely to be a sticking point.

Lefdal has the potential to become a significant leader in the Scandinavian data centre market, especially with such advantageous terms and funding from the Norwegian government who are keen to pull some of the appetite for data centre services their way.  Whether that converts to interest from bigger European businesses remains to be seen, but neighbouring clients such as IBM and Friedhelm LOH should also help to show that Lefdal is more than just another energy efficient data centre.

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