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Located in the middle of the Portuguese ranges is one of the biggest data centers in Europe, and its operator also claims it is one of the most energy efficient.

It is Portugal Telecom’s eighth data center, which opened today in Covilhã - a project that has played a key role for the Spanish engineering firm Quark TS.

It sits on an 18.7 acre (75,500 sq m) plot where, according to demand, four twin buildings will be built in different phases eventually allowing for 3 acres (12,000 sq m) of white space. Today the first phase is open – a large 55 x 55 m cube featuring six white space areas each 500 sq m.

Portugal Telecom (PT) focussed heavily on architecture, environment and technology with this build – aiming for a sustainable build. Outside the facility there is a solar farm supporting 30% of the auxiliary building power usage - where Portugal Telecom offices are located.

A moat surrounds the data center. Besides having an aesthetic effect (allowing the cube like structure to look as if it is floating on the water along with the clouds above - a reflection that references PT's cloud offering), it also creates a microclimate that cools the environment and collects rainwater for chiller use when required.

Cooling is one area where this data center can attain levels of efficiency. The choice of Covilhã as its site is a result of not only its low seismic activity but also its low temperatures recorded during winter. The data center can use free cooling for 99% of the time - occasionally combined with adiabatic cooling. According to PT, it would need to use chillers for only six days a year. This helps it achieve a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.25.

Availability and security
The new facility is Tier III certified, though PT said some white spaces have been certified as Tier IV, and the data center has an N+1 design. It has 12 generators (with 1,875kVA each) and two tanks with 21,200 gallons (80,000 liters) of diesel - enough to supply the facility for a total of 36 hours.

IT rooms support a density of 2.2kW per square meter, and each room can hold between 260 and 280 racks.

Safety is one of Portugal Telecoms main concerns, it said, so it built several protection systems such as palm vein authentication and weight control into the facility.

Aiming for the Cloud
Portugal Telecom invested €99m to make this facility the cornerstone of its cloud services. It is offering end-to-end services from storage and connectivity to security and cloud computing through its SmartCloud portfolio, delivered from the site.

The data center will be connected to PT data centers in Lisbon, Brasil and soon Africa and the company plans to introduce new services for Brazil and Portugal soon.