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Internet hub, Scolocate, to double in size

Scolocate, the data centre business set up by Royal Bank of Scotland at the height of the dotcom boom is doubling capacity under an £8 million investment plan that will see it take on a third more staff. ScoLocate, established in 1999, is already the largest of Scotland’s so-called “internet hotels”, providing businesses and public sector bodies with remotely hosted computer services. Having survived the tech crash and a management shake-up in 2001, the firm booked turnover of £4.9m last year. It remains majority owned by RBS.

Managing director Roy Maxwell said strong organic growth in the past few years had seen the Edinburgh-based facility hit its capacity limits. Work is now under way, in two phases, to double that hosting capability in a move that involves fitting out previously vacant space.

Maxwell estimated that the firm will spend between £7m and £8m on its expansion drive. As a result, ten additional staff are being recruited, covering IT and security functions, taking the overall headcount to about 35.

Data centres typically draw large amounts of power, partly to cool the vast arrays of computer servers and storage devices. ScoLocate said the investment in its South Gyle operation would create the UK’s most “eco-efficient” centre using “locally produced renewable energy combined with a minimal carbon footprint”. Maxwell said: “After coming close to capacity we decided to undertake a considerable investment and further fit out the site. The plan has been to build the most efficient data centre we can. We have plenty of colder weather here in Scotland and we may as well take advantage of it.” It is estimated that for every pound spent running a computer server, another pound is required to cool it. Maxwell points out that for every pound needed to power the IT equipment housed at ScoLocate, just 20p was required to cool it.

Phase one of the expansion is due to complete by the end of February, with all of the capacity sold. Maxwell said there had been “significant interest” in the remaining space, which is likely to be available from May. The firm highlighted a string of business wins this year with a total contract value “in excess of” £8m. Turnover, which last year jumped from about £4.5m to just below £4.9m, is projected to rise to £5.2m in 2010.

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