10 years Smartdc: an historic overview

This year, Smartdc will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

In 2008 the idea to build our own data center emerged. Smartdc was looking for a suitable location for almost a year. The search eventually led to the historic Van Nelle factory. Smartdc has been located in the former distribution center of the Van Nelle factory since 2009. It is not only the historic aspect that makes it a special place, the location is also unique since it is directly connected to the glass fibre network and to the 23 kV power network of the port of Rotterdam.

Following a thorough renovation, the former distribution center is now a data center of 3.500 m2 (square feet). The foundation of the building on the exterior has remained as it historically was, but inside you will find an innovative data center featuring the latest technologies.  

From distribution center to data center

The Van Nelle factory was once a place where coffee, tea, and tobacco were stored and distributed. In 1782 Johannes and Henrica van Nelle started a coffee, tea, and tobacco store at Leuvehaven in Rotterdam. After they both died, the company was initially taken over by their son. In 1837 the van der Leeuw family bought shares in the firm. Later, in 1845 they bought the entire company. Over the years they expanded the original Van Nelle store into a company with several factories and distribution centers across the Netherlands.

The building of the Van Nelle factory was designed by architect Leendert van der Vlugt in cooperation with engineer J.G. Wiebenga, and was completely finished in the late 1920s. In the 20th century, it was a factory processing coffee, tea and tobacco and later on chewing gum, cigarettes and pudding were added to the line of production.

The operation of the factory stopped in 1996 when the Van Nelle company reorganized. The factory got renovated in 2000 and is now known as the Van Nelle Design Factory. Nowadays the building houses a variety of start-ups, media and design firms. Some areas are used for meetings, conventions and events. Since 2014 the Van Nelle factory has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In 2009, Smartdc transformed the former distribution center of the factory to a modern data center. Since the building is protected by UNESCO certain aspects of the building had to remain as they originally were designed. This combination between historical and modern design makes our data center unique. Yet, over the years, a lot changed within in our data center. 

The renovation: from model to modular

The hall of the former distribution center had a total surface of 3500 m2; an empty space that would transform into a data center. When we started designing the suites of our data center a modular design was chosen. Everything was built separately at an external production plant and would be transported into the empty hall. In total 15 trucks came in to deliver the frames.

In 2011, even more suites were added. This time a slightly different approach was taken. The suite was built like a construction box. All different parts were carried into the hall, and the suite was built up right on the spot. This way it was easier to make small adjustments. 

Phase 2: a new entrance

In 2018, Smartdc has undergone a complete metamorphosis with the renovation of the entrance. Maarten Struijvenberg, City Counsil Member of Rotterdam in 2018, officially opened the new improved Smartdc Data Center. The new entrance makes it one of the most modern and open data centers in the world.