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The Cloud…Covered!

Lightweight composite access covers designed for cloud and data centres speed-up access to underground infrastructure and fibreoptic cabling

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Data centres and cloud storage facilities are growing exponentially YOY, with global storage expansion estimated at 36% CAGR 2016-2021 (from 286 exabytes to 1.3 zettabytes). Locally, the UK 3rd party cloud market is the largest in Europe.  This growth is driven in part by the movement towards on-demand services.

These facilities are highly specialised environments with exacting performance requirements. They are typically constructed to a tight build schedule.

However, no two are the same. Each facility has specific needs.

Unlike many other construction projects, cloud and data centres evolve quickly, once built. Servers are frequently replaced, and facilities often grow to accommodate greater storage capacity and new technologies. The internal design therefore must have flexibility for this. 

To meet these new challenges, a number of designers and construction companies are turning to contemporary materials like the GRP composite channel access covers made by Fibrelite, which offer many unique benefits.

Unique Construction Challenges of Cloud and Data Centres

Internal design is key to data centre construction as it supports the extensive infrastructure, servers and cabling required whilst enabling fast maintenance, (concurrent in the case of Tier 3 and 4) and scalability. Infrastructure normally includes UPS, power distribution, cooling systems, fire systems and security systems, many of which have redundancies (up to 2N+1 for Tier 4 facilities).

As the use of cloud and data centres has increased, their requirements have evolved significantly. In recent years, this has led to an increasing need for efficiency, reliability and reduced downtime risk, which has seen an increasing focus on value over cost.

Perceived rate of obsolescence is also an important consideration, and wherever possible, facilities must be adequately future-proofed. The designers and construction companies building today’s facilities are tackling this challenge by adopting agile designs, using modern, expandable materials, and following a modular approach.

Composite Access Covers Simplify Construction and Maintenance

One contemporary product being adopted to increase the efficiency of cloud and data centre construction and maintenance is bespoke modular GRP composite infrastructure/cable trench access covers. These are made by Fibrelite and to date, have been adopted by facilities throughout Europe, Asia and America, and specified by some of the world’s largest brands. For the last 30 years, Fibrelite’s lightweight composite manhole covers have also been specified by many leading oil companies around the globe for use on their petrol stations. Locally, this includes BP, Esso, Total, and many more. In fact, Fibrelite created the world’s first composite manhole cover, back in 1980. If you have a car, you will have walked over a Fibrelite cover many times when refuelling.

Fibrelite covers installed over infrastructure systems and fibre optic cabling at data centre emergency vehicle access point

The designers and construction companies building today’s facilities are adopting Fibrelite trench/channel access covers to cover and provide access to channels housing underground infrastructure and fibreoptic cabling. Traditionally, these covers were made from concrete or metal.  

However, Fibrelite’s innovative modular GRP covers are far lighter and allow safe fast manual removal, even when heavier load ratings are required (e.g. channels running between buildings with vehicle traffic). Fibrelite covers are available in load ratings up to F900/90 tonnes, are impervious to corrosion and have a unique anti-skid walking surface.

In many instances where these covers are adopted, companies choose to specify a bespoke option, custom-manufactured to the exact size, colour, load rating and fittings (e.g. securing systems) sometimes as a retrofit replacement for previously installed concrete or metal covers.

 “In environments like data centres and cloud facilities where efficiency and flexibility are vital, it’s important to simplify every process possible. We’re impressed at how the level to which data centres are adopting our composite covers for just such a purpose”

For more details on how Fibrelite covers are being adopted, visit their case studies page

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