An innovative Data Center to produce... Appenzeller cheese

The heat emitted by the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in the Gais area is not evacuated to the outside, but in the direction of the adjacent dairy

The exterior of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden
The exterior of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

At the end of 2019, Switzerland heard for the first time about the SAK data center (owned by the company St. Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke AG) in Gais in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden.
At the beginning of 2020, the national press and insiders were invited to take an exploratory tour inside it, a fact-finding visit to the innovative structure managed on site by the subsidiary Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz AG.
Gais is a municipality of 3.106 inhabitants, located along the historic narrow-gauge railway line between St. Gallen and Appenzell, and it seemed the ideal location to welcome the innovative Appenzell data center.
The tour was the most impressive that many Swiss journalists, entrepreneurs and IT experts have made in their lives, albeit limited to this sector.

Photo gallery, the dairy and… data center in Eastern Switzerland

The server room of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden
The server room of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

A TIER IV of 99,998 percent, an energy efficiency of 1,15

With a TIER IV availability of 99,998 percent and an energy efficiency rating of 1,15, the unique data center in eastern Switzerland is the greenest and most innovative in the whole country.
With TIER of a data center we mean the system used to quickly classify (and therefore identify) the structure of a data center and this immediately gives the measure of the quality of the Gais infrastructure.
The tiers differ according to the complexity of the data center and the redundant components.
A TIER IV is designed and created to be totally fault-tolerant (in reliability engineering, fault tolerance is the ability of a system not to undergo failures, i.e. service interruptions, even in the presence of faults) and where each component it's redundant.
Indeed, a TIER IV has multiple power and cooling systems. The minimum guaranteed uptime is 99,995 percent, while the maximum annual downtime must not exceed 26,3 minutes.

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The diesel generator of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden
The diesel generator of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

UPS with flywheels instead of battery, using rain or ground water

The supply with natural electricity and a photovoltaic system on the roof are quite frequent and common to other ecological data centers, but when it was explained to the observers that there are no classic UPS or an air conditioning system, the circumstance intrigued even more.
For short power outages, so-called flywheels are used instead of a UPS with batteries.
Indeed, a key advantage of the rotary UPS (RUPS) is its simplicity.
The cost benefits and superior operational reliability of flywheel rotary UPS systems eliminate the need to install tons of environmentally hazardous metals (batteries) in modern data centers.
Adiabatic cooling is used, which additionally sprays water from a rainwater and groundwater system into the outside air circuit.
The hot exhaust air from the servers is not evacuated via roof fans, as is usually the case.
The loop is closed directing it from the servers, storage units and network devices in the adjacent building.
The most typical Appenzell cheese is curiously produced using this hot air in the dairy directly connected to the technological infrastructure serving the Web.

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An overview of the municipality of Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden
An overview of the municipality of Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Specialty derived from milk and a mysterious herbal brine

Among the great Swiss cheese specialties, Appenzeller is perhaps the most aromatic. With more than seven hundred years of tradition, it is still handcrafted today.
The healthy, nutrient-rich grass of the gentle hilly landscape nestled between Lake Constance and the Säntis massif provides the optimal basis for the genuine raw milk from which the Appenzeller is made.
The strictly defined region of production guarantees the uniqueness of this aromatic cheese.
In fact, Appenzeller can only be produced in the cantons of Appenzell Inner and Outer Rhodes, as well as in parts of the cantons of St. Gallen and Thurgau, and exclusively according to the traditional recipe.
Its unique flavor is due to the loving care with which it is surrounded in the first months of maturation, when it is immersed in the famous herb brine, the composition of which is a closely guarded secret.
The particular mark found on the lower part of the true Appenzeller wheels is a guarantee of a top quality product.

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The cooling systems of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden
The cooling systems of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Thus Publibike uses servers located in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Enthusiastic about the ecological and technical implementation, many companies returned from their visit and decided that this data center would in future be the main location for their servers in Switzerland.
Using the slogan "Our hosting is not cheese", several well-known Swiss companies have chosen to make the Appenzell data center their partner: this is the case of Peaknetworks and recently of Publibike, the well-known bicycle and e-bike rental network nationally distributed.
Customers of many Swiss companies can now directly use the Rackspaces in the company's Gais data center.

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The USV flywheel of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden
The USV flywheel of the Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz in Gais in Appenzell Ausserrhoden

230.000 kWh of electricity per year and secure for the data center

The region's secure, reliable and efficient IT infrastructure helped with the project.
The Eastern Switzerland data center is a highly available and energy-efficient communication hub.
With an area of ​​2 x 450 square meters, the innovative data center from Gais offers space for 2 x 150 racks.
Enterprises and institutions use racks, enclosed rack rooms and, for large solutions, data center space in the form of private suites.
A complete package for SMEs and start-ups completes the offer of Rechenzentrum Ostschweiz AG.
The highly secure database with state of the art infrastructure is also a huge solar and thermal power plant.
The facade and roof surfaces are in fact equipped with a photovoltaic system that covers the entire area and generates 230.000 kWh of electricity per year for the data center itself.
The first monitored zone is a smart fence system that surrounds the entire building.
Access is only possible through a separation system and biometric registration systems.
All rooms are monitored seamlessly via video.
Finally, an automatic gas shutdown system provides additional security to the infrastructure at the same time available to the Internet and cheese.

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