We’ve enjoyed an exciting fortnight of changes at NLE for this instalment of the Build Blog, with a large number of big ticket items landing on-site.
This has resulted in notable change throughout the facility over the past two weeks, across a number of key areas. The most striking of these has been the siting of our new generators, which now sit in their final positions in our front compound.
Alongside the generators arriving – which are having a full canopy refinish in anthracite grey next week – we’ve also taken delivery of our first containment pod, including racks and the cold aisle system. This has resulted in major visual change in Data Hall 1.
We have a time lapse of the generators arriving and landing in place coming very soon, so watch out for this on our socials.
The first containment pod can now be assembled in Data Hall 1, which will be another major milestone in the deployment of our new facility.
The installation of our exterior building sign was quite a momentous occasion, as it’s the first time this facility has been properly branded with our logomark. This is the exact same style of sign as seen on the side of our London Central facility, with the diffused backlighting that really makes the sign pop at night.
The first instalment of armoured cabling to arrive, which will make up the bulk of the main underfloor power routes, will total somewhere in the region of eleven tons. The fire cabling within the building, which covers all detection and alarm systems, will total 2.5km in length.
We’ve had lots of custom made parts arrive over the past few weeks, destined for installation and / or use throughout the facility. One such item is a custom fork lift plate, which has been designed to take racks from the loading bay up to either floor level. This is a heavy duty steel plate welded to fork sleeves, which is low profile enough to drop straight into each loading dock.
The on-site schedule really picks up in the next week or two, as things begin to move on the end-out works. The site has a large number of trades beginning work, including the fire team, generator canopy refresh team, lift engineers, and a team who will be heading up adjustments to the skin of the building as part of our cooling system(s). This is all happening alongside the main power contractors beginning work, following completion of all design and design testing.
Visual updates have been somewhat limited throughout January, hence the delayed publishing of this five week instalment of the Build Blog.
The bulk of time and effort on-site is still being spent on end-out plans, and getting the energisation works underway. Alongside this, we’ve also been carrying out supplementary works in a number of areas, to keep things progressing while time is spent on final stage plans.
In terms of physical on-site work, we’ve been keeping tempo with a range of works across a number of areas, all of which have helped to keep visual progress steady (but comparatively limited) while the next phase is executed behind the scenes.
Because visual change is somewhat limited at the moment, we have a lesser number of photos available in this instalment, however they do show various changes and arrivals throughout the site.
The ground floor areas that were due checker plate cladding as part of the phase one roll-out have now had all areas completed, aside from a couple of missing sheets; we’re now waiting on additional material to arrive with us. This will also allow for checker plating and associated bash protection to be installed in the loading bay, where equipment will be lifted to each level loading dock for both the ground and first floors.
The ground floor has also had its final lighting systems cabled and energised, meaning that all site lighting can now be removed – a great milestone in terms of this becoming a self-supported utility it its final guise.
The main front-of-building turnstile came back to us late last year, having been to our powder coaters to ensure a match with the existing system at London Central. This was installed towards the end of 2020, however has yet to have its internals fitted to the overhead containment tray. This will be done when weather permits, given the current snowy state of the UK earlier this week!
Some of our new electrical boards have started arriving on-site. These are largely our new Mardix units, which have been built in a number of varieties depending on the end use case, and delivered in our signature orange. These really pop against the otherwise monochrome data halls, turning out just as we had planned. The larger of the two orange board types each hold a self-contained ATS to allow for dual incoming feeds for all critical M&E equipment.
Most of the VESDA equipment is now on-site, aside from the red pipework that will be installed to collect the air samples. This forms part of the final fire protection plans, which are being completed in the next couple of weeks.
You can also see that our comms panels (ODFs) from Ortronics have arrived, which will be used to handle and distribute fibre from each A and B core. These will be installed as part of the network roll-out at London East, which is set to begin later in this final stage of works.
We’ve also had a team up on the main roof this week, however things were postponed slightly due to adverse weather. Despite there being no issues with the roof, we’re electing to have the roof resealed for our own peace of mind; something we did at London Central also. This will lead onto roof and skin adjustments for apertures in due course, both for personnel access and our cooling system.
What else has been happening?
The bulk of progress in January has definitely fallen into the ‘else’ category when it comes to the Build Blog, as the vast majority of time continues to be spent on desk work, bringing together the final elements that will enable client services to go live at NLE.
Those elements include LV and HV electrical, which form the bulk of the end-out process. The transformer equipment and the generators fall into this work category, which were ordered this week. We’re very excited to share the delivery of these items as they begin to land with us!
We’ve also finalised plans for everything on the fire protection side of the project, which will be installed concurrently with the main power systems.
Excitingly, we’re also having some really interesting conversations with organisations interested in taking space from day one. These range from simple DR services to support primary systems elsewhere, through to full private pods, custom designed to requirement.
We have a very large shipment arriving with us soon, holding all of the containment for the first pod of racks in Data Hall 1 – this is something we’ve been excited to receive for some time, and equally something we’re very excited to share with you here.
Our team enjoyed some much-needed time off over Christmas, following a long run of works on-site at NLE in the closing months of 2020.
This first instalment of the Build Blog for the new year shows the current state of the facility as we head firmly into 2021 – the year in which our new site will launch to clients for the first time.
Before we start, did you catch our NLE envelope time lapse video? If not, here it is again for your viewing pleasure!
The first few weeks of January have primarily been comprised of desk work, bringing end-out plans together as we enter the next phase of development.
As part of this, we’ve made great strides in finalising plans for our diverse dark fibre routes, which we will be announcing very soon.
Aside to planning work, we’ve also been completing some smaller tasks on-site, which have helped keep progress up despite the Christmas break and the focus on more general plans and scheduling.
So here’s an update of photos showing additional work completed since our last update, along with some general site photos to serve as a starting point for the Build Blog in 2021.
The checkerplate is the most obvious visual addition since the last instalment of the Build Blog, covering the walls in all high foot fall customer routes. This gives much-needed protection and a great deal of added visual energy to the space. Custom plates for all high risk doors will also be installed soon.
The reason for having most of the ceiling tiles still in a state of removal is simply for ease of ongoing access. We still need easy accessibility above the grid for cabling overhead services during the build, and as such we will only be installing the tiles once access requirements calm down. This is to ensure the tiles are installed with the least amount of disturbance once in place.
As you can see from the wider facility photo set, the progress made in the last ~8 months is impressive to say the least. As a reminder of where we’ve come from in that time, we’ve included a set of day one photos of the space below.
What our team have managed to achieve in this time is staggering (even more so as this all occurred in the middle of a global pandemic!), and we’re incredibly proud of everyone involved, particularly as we move onto the next phase of energisation, preparing us for launch later this year.
What else has been happening?
We’ve expanded our team!
We’ll be making the official announcement soon, although the hawked eyed among you may have already seen this causing quite a stir online.
We’ve also been going through our first ISO recertification audit, following our initial accreditation to both ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 back in 2017. This will renew our certificates for another three years, with annual surveillance audits covering the 12 month cycles in between. The scope of our certifications will be expanded later this year, to include the new NLE site. This is our first fully remote audit, thanks to the COVID pandemic, which has been an interesting new approach to the audit process.
Planning on the next phase of electrical works will continue, with a number of exciting developments to announce very soon.
We’ll also be continuing with a wide variety of supplementary works, which will includes taking delivery of our first customer enclosure pod; racks, containment, blanks etc, which will allow us to layout our first occupiable colocation space within Data Hall 1.
As we head towards the Holiday Season, we’ve been able to clear away a range of outstanding tasks on our list, setting things up nicely for the continuation of scheduled work in Q1 2021.
This short entry covers the items that have seen progress in the weeks leading up to the Festive holiday.
We’ll be keeping this post relatively brief, however we’ve seen dramatic developments in a couple of key areas; cooling and lighting.
The entire first floor is now fully lit through the Klik system, which provides power to our overhead LED panels. This means that all temporary site lighting on the first floor can now be removed. Emergency bulkheads have also been wired up, ready for final directional label application in due course.
We’ve also built out our cooling system much further, with Data Halls 1 and 2 now very near completion, ahead of plumbing and cabling. The supplementary air conditioning systems are now also in place, pending commissioning much later in the project.
The past few weeks have been vital in driving the project forwards, as we continue to line up the various items required for the next phase of the build.
What else has been happening?
We have two new deployments underway in Frankfurt and Amsterdam, which have been in the works now for some time. These will reach completion in the next few weeks, with a large number of high-specification servers and high-performance connectivity rolling out in both locations.
These have both been top-to-bottom deployments for us, from consultation, hardware supply, project management, right through to provisioning.
We’re very excited to see these two new systems come online. Amsterdam will be a new location for Netwise, and the roll-out in Frankfurt sees us expand our existing footprint in Germany’s most important data centre hub.
We’ve also had confirmation this week of our plans for fully diverse fibre routes back to our core nodes in THN and LD8, which is great news. The ball is now rolling on installation of these lines, which will provide us with dark fibre access to our existing metro network. Our network will then span five key London data centres.
In other news, we’ve been working directly with TfL to update the content on our travel notice screen in reception at NLC, which will carry over to a the new system being installed at NLE. Look out for the updated screens on-site at our facilities soon!
We will be continuing with progress on outstanding items throughout the holiday season, ready for larger trade work to continue in Q1. This will most notably include the electrical portion of the project – both HV and LV – which will take us right through to the point of onlining the site.
With the internal shell now complete, and with far fewer trades now on-site until the electrical works begin, we’ve been able to get various supplementary works underway across a number of key areas.
The last few weeks have proved to be an excellent springboard for getting things like access control integration started, with the first doors at NLE now online and interacting with our core systems at NLC.
While final plans and schedules for the LV and HV electrical works continue, we’ve been able to press ahead on-site with a range of supplementary projects which have helped to drive forward general progress.
We’ve spent time on the main access control elements, which will secure the client entry points to the facility. This includes the frame installation of our turnstile, the integration of the main reception door onto the access control system, and the deployment of our lovely new Boon Edam speed gates.
Alongside access control works, we’ve also now flood cabled the first data hall with its final lighting cables, which means we can begin to light the data halls with their overhead LED panels for the first time.
We’ve also had trades back on-site over the past few weeks to bring all doors to full completion, which includes the checking of tile stability around the frames, and adjusting all doors for their opening angles and closing speeds. Given the number of door systems installed, this is quite the undertaking.
Though not something pictured, our lift is now operational, and can move between floors. We’re now just waiting on some final integration work to be undertaken, which will bring that particular element of the project to a close.
The custom frame system we’ve had designed for our cooling plant and cold corridors arrived during this time, which we hope to begin installing in the next couple of weeks, on the lead up to Christmas.
Details are now finalised on much of the HV and LV front, meaning we’re close to having that stage of the project begin.
In the lead up to this, we’ll be continuing with lighting, access control, and the chequer plating of all client areas.
Another major job that will be undertaken both now and throughout the electrical installation works will be the integration of our new CREC system. This will include getting the coolers plumbed, powered and interconnected for their control systems, along with the installation of our custom-fabricated containment frame, which will blank off any cooler bays which are presently unoccupied, as well as providing a mounting location for the extraction louvres.