Data Management

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The Data Center of the Future

Given Wall Street's insatiable need for computing power and the ever-increasing cost of energy, firms inevitably will deploy energy-efficient hardware and technology, such as virtualization. But to build data centers that will remain cost-effective for years to come, organizations including the NYSE and Citi also are focusing on how they power and cool their facilities.

WS&T July 2010 Digital Issue

Lately, NYSE Euronext has been thinking big. "Big," as in the length of three football fields -- the size of its new data center, located in Mahwah, N.J. The 400,000-square-foot facility is larger than a World War II aircraft carrier and includes room to expand for years after it becomes fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2010. As NYSE puts the finishing touches to the Mahwah facility, the exchange is simultaneously preparing to unveil another brand-new data center in Basildon, U.K., on the outskirts of London.

"It's a huge place," NYSE Euronext CIO Steve Rubinow says of the Mahwah facility. "We joke about using Segways to get from one end to another."

In a departure from the past, the Mahwah facility was purpose built for the industry's needs from the ground up with the aim of ensuring that it would last for two or three decades, says Andy Bach, SVP, network services, NYSE. "When selecting locations for the data centers, we did look at existing space with buildings you can retrofit as well as new sites," he relates. "The important thing is that it has a long lifeline. I will probably be retired before the useful life of the Mahwah data center is expired."

The fact that NYSE's new data center is not a shared facility enabled the exchange to bring in its own fiber optic network, Bach explains. "We don't have other carriers coming into the building -- it allows us to control latency, to provide bandwidth and to scale it on our schedule as we want," he says. "We weren't constrained by the cabling left behind by the previous tenant," Bach adds, pointing out that cables in the data center are run overhead, freeing the under-floor space where cables traditionally reside for cooling.

"Once you make the decision you want to control your own destiny by building from the ground up, you sketch your canvas," Bach says, adding that NYSE sought out leading-edge technology in areas that can provide a competitive advantage. For example, NYSE heavily leveraged low-latency technology, including the high-performance switching and routing technologies of Juniper Networks' 10-Gigabit Ethernet network as well as high-speed silicon ASIX chips to drive down latency further.

"Any time you build a new data center, you have a great excuse to do a technology refresh," notes Rubinow. "The mindless thing to do would be to move equipment from an old data center and rearrange it. We've been going to all the vendors of hardware, software, networking -- we said, 'We're building a new data center and have the opportunity to change something.' We took the best of what they have. We'll have faster, smaller, more efficient equipment."

Power Struggle

The decision to build from the ground up largely was driven by NYSE's power needs, difficult to meet in the northeast where many companies increasingly are competing for data center space. "We didn't just want to rely on one source of power," comments Rubinow, who notes that the Mahwah facility has 28 megawatts of power, enough to power 4,500 residential homes, and numerous diesel-powered backup generators. "You can't go to any area of New Jersey or Pennsylvania and find an untapped source of power."

Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio

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