Energy-efficient Data Centers In Marseille: Strategies For Reducing Operating Costs – According to an independent firm, Marseille, France is the world’s 7th largest internet hub thanks to the deployment of several submarine cables and the construction of data centers in the port of Marseille. The latter is the work of Interxion, a single European company. We were able to visit their website and meet Fabrice Coquiot, the group’s CEO for France. Among the topics we discussed were Marseille’s strategic position, energy consumption and global warming.

Interxion, recently renamed Digital Realty, is a European expert in physical hosting of computer equipment and machinery. They stand out from other players in the sector, such as OVH, which provides virtual hosting for websites. Interxion has more than 300 data centers worldwide and on all continents.

Energy-efficient Data Centers In Marseille: Strategies For Reducing Operating Costs

Energy-efficient Data Centers In Marseille: Strategies For Reducing Operating Costs

Interxion arrived in Marseille in 2014 and their data centers are currently spread across 4 buildings (MRS1, MRS2, MRS3 and the newly launched MRS4). Their customers – cloud platforms, digital platforms, telecom operators – benefit from the opening of the Mediterranean Sea and the submarine fiber-optic cables that carry the world’s Internet, deploying their main computing and network systems to Africa, the Middle East and irrigation. Asia. Marseille is atypical because it is the only case where a single company, Interxion, owns the entire infrastructure.

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According to an independent firm, the French city of Marseille is the 7th largest Internet hub in the world thanks to the deployment of several submarine cables and the construction of data centers in the port of Marseille (iStock)

“Marseille is a global gateway city. It exists because it is the IT hub of Europe (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris) and a hinterland that opens up to Africa, the Middle East, India and China. Customers from these countries are now coming to Marseille because the data collection is done there.”

Marseille has benefited from a technological breakthrough with the commissioning of two submarine cables (AAE-1 and SEA-ME-WE 5) and the development of data center capacity. This brought Marseille virtually closer to the rest of the world and allowed for very short data distribution times.

“It takes 115 milliseconds of data to get from Marseille to Singapore in 0.11 seconds. “A piece of information travels around the earth in less than 2 seconds.”

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Thus, from Marseille, it is possible to open services in 42 countries and reach 4.5 billion users. It is no coincidence that GAFA, cloud-based solutions and gaming platforms have chosen to locate their equipment in Marseille.

As a result, Marseille will become the world’s 7th largest Internet and computing center in 2022, with 38 terabits per second, according to Telegeography, a telecommunications research and consulting firm. The world’s first Frankfurt center with a speed of 150 terabits per second.

We visited one of Interxion’s data center facilities, MRS2. There are 7 security levels to access the server. Barriers, badges, fingerprints, one-way locks… everything is done to ensure maximum security. The company’s mission is to ensure business continuity for its customers at all costs.

Energy-efficient Data Centers In Marseille: Strategies For Reducing Operating Costs

We entered one of the very hot and noisy server rooms. Customers can reserve a private room or use half a room. Others require closed cages to block the view of the equipment they use. These security layers are part of additional services sold by Interxion.

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Inside the room there are power supply cabinets and air conditioning. The 80 cm false floor allows high voltage power and cold air to pass through. Fiber internet runs overhead.

We enter a cold corridor. There are four of them in each room, and the racks, the vertical cabinets where the clients’ servers are stored on top of each other, are located in this limited space. Interxion does not rent any equipment, only racks or half racks.

It is colder than the other rooms. And for good reason; where cold air is blown from below, through the floor, in front of the customers’ equipment. Hot air spits out the back, which explains why it’s warmer in the rest of the room. The challenge, we’re told, is keeping the equipment temperature around 26 degrees as recommended by ASHRAE.

Various sensors constantly monitor the room (for hydrometry, humidity and temperature) and send data to the building management system.

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A major challenge in the data center is to properly cool client equipment to prevent overheating and failure. Interxion data centers generally use free cooling techniques. This technique captures outside air, usually at night, and blows it into the room through a heat exchanger.

This technique is based on the recovery of natural cold water from an old gallery excavated in the late 19th century. The artificial channel was used to bring water from the Gardan mines north of Marseille to the port. This water, which was 15°C throughout the year, was not used. The group therefore decided to use the coldness of this water through heat exchangers and blow it into the rooms.

According to Interxion, the cooling of the river creates 22 megawatts of cooling, cooling three out of four buildings. The company assures us that during this summer’s heat wave, all the areas’ needs were met by cooling the rivers.

Energy-efficient Data Centers In Marseille: Strategies For Reducing Operating Costs

We then went to the Meet Me Room, a room run exclusively by Interxion technicians. This room allows customers to meet virtually and provides an important commercial proposition for the group, as Fabrice Coquiot explains:

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“Our data centers bring together communities of customers, enabling them to connect with partners through these meeting rooms to achieve digital transformation, improve their services or develop new ones. For example, our customers can connect to a telecommunications provider or cloud platform in a few minutes.”

Interxion customers can request fiber-to-fiber interconnection with another customer and connect directly from the data center to cloud services, cybersecurity platforms, data distribution platforms, and more. they can get. This saves precious milliseconds of latency, thereby improving performance for users. This so-called cross-connect offering is a big market for the group, which goes far beyond hosting hardware.

“Our customers should find value in staying with us beyond the core and core missions of security and business continuity. This means that we have to have our customers and segments so that they can achieve their digital transformation.”

We had a demonstration in the room. The fiber running from customer A’s server is physically connected to customer B’s server fiber through a patch panel from one of the four meeting rooms. It only takes a minute.

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“In the case of the MRS3, which is heavily exposed to sea spray, we added a corten structure that protects the steel itself.” (Interxion)

Designing the Interxion data center premises in Marseille was a real challenge as it had to be adapted to the existing building. MRS1 was the building of the telephone company SFR. MRS2 is a former ship repair workshop with preserved architecture. MRS3 is a former submarine base built by the Germans during WWII. An architectural effort had to be made for each of the buildings, which is not usually the case for a data center.

“We are exposed to 2 phenomena: ambient salinity and microparticles associated with harbor activity, which irritate the air filtration of our facilities. That is why we have implemented special solutions in Marseille, such as special welding of our pipelines inside our buildings. In the case of the MRS3, which is heavily exposed to sea spray, we added a corten structure that protects the steel itself. The Energy Issue

Energy-efficient Data Centers In Marseille: Strategies For Reducing Operating Costs

Data centers require a constant power supply to run and cool client equipment. According to various estimates, the annual electricity consumption of data centers is about 500 terawatt hours. This means that 1% of the world’s electricity is used to power data centers. By 2030, it could be 3%. Other sources estimate that the average power supply of a data center is between 30 megawatts and 100 MW per hour, which is equivalent to the consumption of cities with a population of 25,000 to 50,000.

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According to Interxion, the energy consumption of all their French data centers (13 in total: 9 in Paris and 4 in Marseille) is equivalent to a city of 53,000 people.

Therefore, reducing energy consumption remains the number one challenge for all data centers. Interxion has implemented a number of measures to save energy. For example, if a customer rents a rack but doesn’t use all of the space, Interxion employees install shutter panels in front of the empty racks to keep the cold from blowing in. They are carbon neutral in Scope 1 and 2 (

“20-30% of our customers’ annual bill consists of energy. For some customers, this means millions of euros. So it is in their interest to be more efficient. Less than 20% of data centers in France have a PUE (power consumption index) of less than 1.67. In Marseille we are at 1.11. And Interxion is the only player with neutral Scope 1 and 2 in France.

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