100% uptime or a year for free: Volta claims world first with data centre guarantee

Volta Data centre: guranteed power by the hour in central london
Volta: Guarantee power by the hour in central London

Independent central London data centre operator Volta says its resilience is so good that it will give customers a year’s free service if racks suffer power failures. Even if that failure is for a microsecond.

The firm launched the deal last week and already has quotes in market, according to MD Jon Arnold. He says Gartner has confirmed that as far as they know, no other data centre is offering that kind of service level agreement (SLA).

Maybe that is true for now. But the firm, based in EC1, believes the data centre industry should be more aggressive with SLAs given the mission criticality of provision for customers.

Upping the SLA game

“Data centres are these super resilient facilities and yet we offer standard SLAs. So we looked at it from a different angle,” Arnold told Mission Critical Power.

He says the 9MW Volta facility is “uniquely positioned” in that it has a twin ring connection on UK Power Networks’ new 33kV network, feeding its own switches and transformers.

“So we have a level of resilience that very few data centres have before we even get to our batteries and generators,” says Arnold.

Confidence in its set up spurred the new ‘Platinum’ SLA.

“We already offered 100% [uptime]. But we thought why not challenge and change the way data centres operate? By saying ‘if we break 100% power to your rack you get a year’s free service’, it actually means something,” says Arnold. “Clearly no customer will want any service credits. But it is about underlining we are serious about our facility and our resilience.”

Data centres on demand

The move builds upon Volta’s ‘power by the hour’ launch this summer, whereby customer contracts can literally start at a one-hour minimum.

It means clients are not oversizing their requirements and paying for services before they are ready to use them.

Dubbed by some as the Airbnb model, marketing boss Perrine Farque says providing services on demand matches modern business models seeking flexibility.

Arnold concurs.

“It works because if people want to come in for an hour they can. But we’ve had customers coming in for a three-month period to handle specific projects.”

Does he see the model becoming more prevalent?

“Flexibility is starting to become more powerful, not only on the duration of contracts but the ability to scale. We have numerous contracts with cloud companies and it allows them to show us their roadmap and work with them to get there.”

Acquisition appetite

Arnold believes a fully flexible model will help the firm pick up London business and hopes to capitalise on any uncertainty resulting from large-scale consolidation in the data centre sector.

He says the firm has acquisition goals of its own, but that it is “way to soon” to be touting potential deals. The data centre has been fully operational for two years and has substantial headroom due to the initial investment in connections infrastructure.

Growth room

“Our feed has something like 45MVA of availability, of which we are taking up 9.6MVA. It can be uprated to 60MVA should the need occur,” says head of facilities John Speers.

“It is a good thing to have. Especially when, with all the new data centres they are trying to bring online, they are struggling for capacity in Docklands at the moment.”

Look out for a full feature on power procurement and connections in the forthcoming print issue of Mission Critical Power.

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