Data centres are experiencing a rapid increase in business, and a UK-based data centre and co-location service provider is warning that if current growth rates are replicated across most other data centres, then capacity could be seriously stretched by the end of the year.

That is according to Hampshire-based Redstation, which says that in the last six months alone, it has seen a 600 percent increase in sales. "If every data centre sees similar growth to what we've been seeing capacity could be stretched by the end of the year across the country," said Redstation's Technical Director, Peter Appleton. He also warned that organisations should look at the data centre option sooner rather than later.

"Recent research by HP revealed that the majority of data centres across Europe have reached 80 percent capacity," Appleton told Techworld via email. "Many older data centres are unable to provide sufficient power/cooling per rack as they were not designed for high density computing."

Appleton also pointed to research by Broad Group's data centre practice, which suggests that although there will be a limited increase in data centre space over the next few years, demand will outstrip supply, doubling data centre colocation prices by 2010.

Indeed, last November, Tier 1 Research said that demand for data centre services was currently growing at twice the rate of supply.

But what is driving this demand for data centre resource? Appleton believes that companies are looking to hosted services in order to reduce their IT budgets, ensure business continuity, and avoid further investments in new equipment, such as servers, software, and networking systems and services.

"Some companies that may previously have built their own in-house data centre facilities are now more likely to use third party colocation data centres as a way to cut costs due to budgetary constraints and a need to focus on their core business activities," he said.

And it seems that the location of the data centre is also important. Back in October last year, business continuity specialist, SunGard Availability Services warned that the rapid growth in data centres in the south east of England was being fuelled by the fact that business want their server farms nearby.

Appleton agreed. "Yes, the majority of Redstation's custom concerns business-critical applications and off-site backup from companies in the south of England, as IT managers like to stay close to their servers in a colocation environment," he said.

He also agreed that customers are "attached" to their servers (so called ‘server huggers'). "In our experience it is due to the business-critical nature of the colocation servers we house; around 90 percent of our colocation custom comes from within a 35 mile radius," he said.

"After the initial colocation setup, customers with business-critical servers return to the data centre for routine maintenance and to add more servers to their racks as their business grows," he added.

Redstation's own research shows that data centres tend to congregate in and around London and Manchester. According to Appleton, this means that many other regional business centres lack any substantial data centre facilities.

But this concentration on the London area does have its downfalls. "London's power problems are no secret and the forthcoming Olympic Games are going to place even more pressure on its creaking power supply," said Appleton.

"Generally speaking, the south east does not have a power supply problem, but this is dependent on how close a data centre is to a town or city's power infrastructure," he said. "A couple of miles in the wrong direction can have a huge impact on the cost of delivering the power required to operate a data centre."

Redstation's existing facility opened in 2007, but is apparently nearing capacity and the company is in the process of acquiring land near Portsmouth in order to construct a 720 rack data centre to cope with demand from existing and new customers. Appleton says the new facility should be online in early 2010.