New Telus data centre opens in Quebec

Telus Corp. opened its 10th data centre in the country Tuesday as the telecommunications company tries to keep ahead of enterprise and government demand for managed and cloud services.

Built in Rimouski, Que., where Vancouver-based Telus has had operations since 2000 after buying control of QuebecTel, the new expandable facility is said to be one of the most energy-efficient in the country.

Lloyd Switzer, the company’s senior vice-president of network transformation, said the new building has an average power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.15. By comparison, Switzer said, the industry average for a data centre is 2.0.
(Switzer says the servers are arranged in a “Star Trek-like” array. Telus photo)

The building design itself has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status.

The design has also met the Uptime Institute’s Tier III design certification and Telus wants to get Tier III construction certification as well. Tier III construction certification means every component in the building can be maintained, replaced or upgraded without disrupting service.

Telus has gained the efficiency through geography and technology. Rimouski is 272 km north east of Quebec City on the shore of the St. Lawrence River, with a temperature moderate enough that the new structure can take advantage of what Switzer called “free air cooling” – it only needs to be air conditioned 40 hours a year.

Heat exchangers have been built on the backs of the server racks, which absorbs the heat and exchanges it with the outside air. A closed-loop system makes it efficient, Switzer said, as well as being environmentally-friendly.

To make it more friendly to the environment, rather than use batteries for temporary power if the main power fails, a series of spinning flywheels stores enough energy to keep the data centre going for several minutes until backup generators kick in.

Initially, the data centre is 11,000 square feet (which is slightly larger than the existing Telus centre in the city). Built to a modular design, it can that can be expanded up to 115,000 sq. ft. by adding five more modules.

The modules’ steel walls, including electrical connectivity, are built in a factory, shipped to the site and then assembled.

“One of the big challenges with many data centres is the growth, either in customer demand, our own [Telus] demand … and you’re faced with how do I add additional capacity. With the modular design we can very quickly – four to six months—add additional capacity to the facility.”

Telus is building an identical facility in Kamloops, B.C., which is scheduled to open in July.

The data centres are tied to the Telus fibre optic backbone for national redundancy.

The new Rimouski facility will employ 26 people.

Telus offers customers a range of managed, software-as-a-service (such as video and collaboration applications), infrastructure-as-a-service (such as compute cycles) and platform-as-a-service offerings.
(Update: This story has been changed to correct the facility’s PUE rating and the time needed for air conditioning)

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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