Data centres have been popping up in Slough in most recent years and to the average resident, they appear as large warehouses.

Also puzzled by the surge in need of data centres and how Slough now is home to over 30 of them, the Observer headed down to see what was going on behind the scenes.

Surrounded by high security fencing and 24/7 security, Equinix's data centre on Buckingham Avenue comprises of two floors of data storage for clients big and small.

A cooling floor is situated on the top floor, tasked with keeping the electricals from overheating and remain operating efficiently.

While the ground floor offers office space to in house staff and customers as well as emergency generators, batteries and controls.

Bruce Owen, managing director of Equinix described data centres as "the backbone of the digital economy", saying there is a large misconception of what they are.

He said: "Workers essentially keep the internet running."

With the demand on digital communication and exchanges rapidly growing, businesses are turning to data centres to bridge the gap between them and their consumer/customer.

While it used to be the norm for companies to store their data in house, the increase in digital demands has meant larger spaces are now needed - leading to the creation of data centres.

Data of all kinds can go through a data centre, whether this be financial transactions, government information or from the apps you open on your phone.

Mr Owen went on to add that "Slough is crucial" for Equinix's strategy.

Equinix is a retail colocation data centre offering customers rentable space in the form of racks, cages or cabinets to deploy their own IT equipment.

Other types of data centres include wholesale colocation, where customers lease an area for a longer length of time and have the ability to design the space - usually used by larger enterprises, cloud service providers and telecommunications companies.

Meanwhile hyperspace data centres provide mass spaces to major companies such as Amazon, Meta, Google and Microsoft.

Slough is currently Europe’s largest collection of data centres, with 34 situated across Slough and more on the way.

Demands for data centre's have been growing since the internet took off and Slough welcomed its first data centre in 2005. 

Approximately 400 employees are employed by Equinix to work on their Slough facilities, amongst which are International Business Exchange (IBEX) technicians working at the data centre to ensure customer's IT equipment doesn't go down and that everything is interconnected. 

On a tour of the facility, it became clear that security and customers needs came first, with varying degrees of fencing used to protect highly classified information, such as government information and financial exchanges.

However with so much data surging through the centre, just one cable being cut would be "catastrophic" according to sales engineer and Slough resident Shaun Robinson.

To ensure the facility is constantly operational and wouldn't come to a halt in the event of a power cut, large batteries are kept on standby.

In the event of a power cut the batteries could sustain the building for a minimum of 30 hours.

Equinix currently runs an apprenticeship programme with Newbury College where they are taught mechanical and electrical engineering. They are looking to expand this offering to other local colleges.