Expanding to Geneva

Posted on 19 Sep 2016 by Marek 
A firework exploding over Geneva skyline.

Welcome to Geneva!

We are really excited to have just finished commissioning our third data centre location.

The Background

The project to expand to a third data centre began about a year ago as we started to look at options for where to expand. Although we already had equipment in more than one facility, the majority was concentrated around the very well-connected Manchester Science Park. We wanted to go a little further…

Our initial thoughts had us looking across the Pennines; but a few things started to happen in UK politics which began to nudge us in a different direction so as to give us not just geo-diversity but the potential of geopolitical-diversity. I'll write some more about this in another article soon — but for now I'll just say that Switzerland came up trumps.

The Choice

Switzerland has a significant place in the history of the Internet, especially in Europe. It is reasonably well know that the world-wide web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. Slightly less well-known is that CIXP, Geneva, is where the first pan-European internet backbone was installed. And ever since 1989, the location and politics of Switzerland have made it a great place for connectivity: the country has one of the highest broadband penetrations in Europe.

Other considerations which were very important revolved around data protection regulations. Although Switzerland is outside the EU, the EEA, and EFTA, its federal data protection laws are considered to be strong enough that personal data can be processed in Switzerland without special permission.

Having whittled down the choices of country we needed to find an actual hosting facility. Whilst looking at the offerings from the incumbents and multinational data centre operators, one company in particular jumped out at us: Infomaniak. They recently built their third data centre in Geneva, and what initially caught our eye was their commitment to environmental concerns, a matter close to our own hearts at Faelix. Indeed, their work has won them awards including the sustainable development prize for the Canton of Geneva. We toured their new facility and were suitably impressed. Whilst it came as no surprise that their energy is certified from 100% renewable sources, what did come as a surprise is their power usage effectiveness, a measure of how efficient a data centre is. Hosting in older designed data centres, such as those we use in Manchester, we are quoted a PUE of around 1.35-1.55, which means that for every 100W of energy used in servers another 35-55W of energy is required to provide them with uninterruptible power and cool all the equipment. Infomaniak III has a PUE of under 1.1 — and that is absolutely incredible. We were sold!

We began planning our expansion in earnest in April with a view to installing sometime in the autumn. And here we are, in September: switch-on accomplished!