Etisalat to expand SmartHub with third data centre in UAE
Etisalat has announced that it is expanding its SmartHub in Kalba in the United Arab Emirates with a third data centre in response to growing demand and to enhance geographical diversity. The UAE-based telecommunications company’s latest Tier 3 facility will join two others in Fujairah and Dubai, which opened last year.
According to the company, the new centre will offer “a geo-redundant ecosystem” to allow global organisations to expand their regional presence. Ali Amiri, Group Chief Carrier & Wholesale Officer, Etisalat, said: “As one of the biggest neutral carrier hotels, Etisalat’s SmartHub data centres will be an ICT bridge between continents always supporting critical business activities of global customers.
“SmartHub Kalba will enable us to increase our capabilities and global capacity to meet our international clients’ expanding needs for infrastructure across Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and the Americas. We at Etisalat are committed to making ‘SmartHub’ a preferred location for carriers, cloud service providers, internet exchanges and companies looking for carrier-grade data centres”, said Amiri.
The facility is due to be operational “by the first quarter of 2022” and aims to provide a robust data centre infrastructure as well as being a disaster recovery hub for Etisalat’s customers in the Fujairah SmartHub, the company claims.
Africa-1 subsea telecom system
Etisalat’s Kalba data centre has also been selected to be the landing for Africa-1, a new subsea telecommunications system. Connecting Africa, the Middle East and Europe, it is hoped that it will give the SmartHub a “pivotal role in catering towards facilitating faster connectivity to various global partners”. It is reportedly due to come into service by the end of 2023.
According to reports, the system, built by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), will also land in Sudan as well as connect other countries in the Mediterranean such as Algeria, Italy and Tunisia. Chief Executive Officer and President of Alcatel Submarine Networks, Alain Biston, said: “We are proud that the Africa-1 consortium members have chosen ASN, their trusted and experienced partner in the region, to build and to deploy the Africa 1 system, an addition to the global network that will interconnect millions of people and take part in the digital development of the whole region”.
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.