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Equinix's new Sydney bit barn built to survive TOXIC FLOOD

It's just 90 metres from Australia's most polluted waterway, but design rises above the problem

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Global bit barn baron Equinix has opened its newest data centre in Sydney, just 90 metres from the shores of the Alexandria Canal, a waterway that in the late 1800s was envisaged as linking Botany Bay to Sydney Harbour.

The digging barely made it a tenth of the way, but that was enough to make it a useful place to situate industry of the very Victorian bring-in-the-raw-materials-on-a-barge-then-pump-the-waste-back-out kind. As a result, the sediments at the base of the canal are now so toxic that the New South Wales Environment Protection Agency thinks it best to just leave them alone, as “ the contamination at the site presents a significant risk of harm.” Any attempt at remediation is verboten as it will just stir the sediments up and make things worse.

While there’s a nice post-industrial irony in the canal-side precinct now housing a data centre, Equinix says “a risk assessment has been conducted and cleared.” The company has also noted that the canal is connected to the sea, and that the data centre is just a few metres above sea level.

With Hurricane Sandy fresh in our mind, we also asked if Equinix had thought of that and it has.

“All colocation areas are located at RL3.6m above AHD (Australian Height Datum),” we were told. “100 year flood levels are indicated at RL2.1m and 20 year levels at RL1.8m. Therefore we are not in the 1/100 flood plain. Also colocation areas have been escalated 5m above the floor.”

All of which should mean that even in the event of a Sydney Sandy, the sludge stays off the servers.

And there’s certainly room for plenty of those. The data centre can currently contain 1,000 cabinets in its 22,927 square feet of floor space, some of which is occupied by AWS Direct Connect, confirming our report from two days ago that AWS has a presence in the centre. AWS, for what it is worth, refuses to confirm that, despite Stephen Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy confirming the company’s presence in his pre-ribbon-cutting speech.

File-sharing outfit Box is another resident.

The Southern Cross Cable and Pipe Pacific Network also connect to Equinix’s local facilities, with the direct connections to those companies’ submarine cables said to speed things up for other tenants. ®

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