London East Build Blog – End of Phase One

We’ve taken a much longer break than usual between build blog updates this time around, as we turned focus to the final stages of systems integration and commissioning.

However visual changes have been happening, and in what became the concluding run up to welcoming in our first client deployments to London East, we can relay some of those to you here, and give you a final overview of the facility following Phase One completion.

Weekly overview

With Phase One of the build project now concluded, we’ll be keeping things short and sweet this time, and direct attention to the most recent round of visual evolutions. These now span a period of several months, and in that time we have in fact welcomed our first clients into the new facility, with a very healthy provisioning queue ahead of us.

This is of course a major milestone for us, as we soft-launch the site to clients that have been on the waiting list for entry for quite some time now. Our official public launch is expected in the near future – details to be confirmed.

Our transformer enclosure is now all back together, including all blockwork and the border, which really completes this side of the front compound
Having this area completed has enabled clients to migrate into the facility
As always, the devil is in the detail, and our matching metering enclosure carries the same installation hallmarks as the larger transformer enclosure seen to the side
Our main vehicle access gate in our front compound is receiving the full automation treatment at the moment, for integration into our access control system and full hands-free operation and locking
This new automatic gate system connects into our multi-facility access system, and uses a toothed track and motor to open and close gates of up to 1.6 tons
Our reception area has really taken shape now, with the full glazing system now in place
The client entrance to NLE now maintains segregation between client routes and our security / check-in team at all times
The glass security door which forms part of the new reception glazing system required some interesting technology to implement, both for the glass-mounted maglock, and this wireless RFID reader which now interfaces directly with our Paxton Net2 system via a custom board integration
With live client systems now online inside of NLE, both LV A and LV B have their UPS systems delivering conditioned power to critical client deployments
Our LV rooms now have additional floor detail in place, in the form of ribbed rubber safety matting, seen here in LV Room B
As part of our modular data centre design and deployment strategy – which we’ve implemented at all of our bespoke facilities to date – spaces for future capacity deployment can be seen throughout Netwise London East
Our core network is of course fully online and working for clients now deployed at London East, for both transit and backhaul – the B-side of the NLE core and passive infrastructure is seen here, including 144 of the 432 fibre pairs delivered to site by Zayo
Here we see the A-side of the same core and passive communications, which you can see quite clearly is a direct reflection of the B-side – the building is designed as a double-mirror, both left-to-right and top-to-bottom
A wider view of the A-side LV room, which shows the rubber matting route now in place
These custom generator system status screens found in both LV rooms are a fantastic tool for monitoring our various generator tests
Our LV rooms form the beating heart of London East, and we’re extremely proud of how they’ve turned out – these rooms and the equipment within them will support the four data halls in this building for many years to come
Here we have a view of the Build and Break Room, which has since had progress made on the kitchen and lounge segments (not shown here)
With our LV rooms acting as the heart of the building, the data halls are very much the brain, where client deployments reside – this is the view across Data Hall 1, to the occupied Pod 1 containment system, from where Pod 2 will sit very soon
Despite being open to clients for just a few months, Pod 1 now sits at around 56% capacity at the time of publishing this post, which is why the next phase of work in this hall is already underway
This is a view of the A-side ODF in Data Hall 1, with the overhead cable ladder for copper and fibre cross-connects (on the A-side) now beginning to show visible population, as more client systems come online here
The cold aisle containment system at NLE is certainly a step up from NLC, with electric sliding door entry, which can also be deployed with access control for private pod entry (as is the case here)
The new generation of adiabatic coolers have been performing exceptionally well, running at a much lower pressure than the previous generation – despite hitting nearly 40C locally at NLE this month, the CREC system alone dealt with this amazingly well, with the supplementary AC system not called upon once
This view of the rear of our evaporative cooling system in Data Hall 1 shows the scale of the full setup, with the entire rear face of the building acting as a large intake and exit point for the facility – this hall alone has 28 external air intake and filter bays, which helps make this such a low pressure system
All supplementary air conditioning systems, including the secondary system in Data Hall 1 and all building-wide comfort cooling, are now fully online and operational across the board – we only have a small AC plant area in our front compound, as we again lean entirely into super-efficient adiabatic cooling technology here at London East

The main purpose of this post is to present the current state of play at London East following Phase One of construction, which sees Pod 1 online in Data Hall 1, servicing live clients. We will periodically dip back into the Build Blog, to update on individual projects, and of course the move into Phase Two.

We’re dubbing the next phase of development Phase One-Point-Five, and that’s for some of the ancillary areas which had to be pushed back in favour of technical readiness for client systems. This includes customer facing amenities such as the customer break-out kitchen and lounge area, the personnel lift, and a few remaining internal developments such as our new power monitoring system and some customer portal improvements.

What else has been happening?

Since completing on Phase One, introducing our first set of customer deployments, and the forthcoming Phase Two works, we’ve continued with the fit-out of our customer build and break area.

Works are well underway in terms of laying the section of herringbone floor on which the kitchen and lounge areas of the room will be situated, and our high-specification kitchen installation is also in progress.

Here’s a very small sneak peak at progress so far.

A view of the herringbone floor as it is installed over the raised floor tiles in this space
The extra investment in time to install herringbone floor is well worth it, and in keeping with the attention to detail found across all of our facilities
Here we see the very early stages of the kitchen cabinets being installed – things have progressed significantly since, with the worktop and island now in place, however we’ll have a dedicated post for this in due course (it’ll be worth the wait!)

What’s next?

In the immediate term, we’re welcoming a range of clients into Data Hall 1. In fact, we’ve already deployed systems into 17 enclosures, with plenty more lined up for both London East and London Central.

To keep pace with demand looking ahead, and to allow for the next deployment phases, we’ve just had 89x new APC racks delivered to site, which are currently being held in a 60 square metre block in Data Hall 4.

New APC Racks

Phase 1.5 is already underway, and expected to last into early autumn. Phase 2 works will begin shortly thereafter, which will see Pod 2 come online, and Data Hall 2 shortly thereafter.

In early July, we spent an entire week on intensive portal development works, as we roll out our brand new client power monitoring platform, client port and bandwidth monitoring re-integration (something that’s been on the cards for a long time now!), and a range of other UX improvements.

We also have some extremely exciting additional developments to pass on very soon, pertaining to our ongoing expansion in all areas. We’re hoping to be able to break silence on this in the coming few weeks.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 93 to 97

With the final utility connections now upon us, and the last elements of our stage one internal fit-out now reaching completion, we’re now tantalisingly close to welcoming our first clients into NLE.

A large portion of the facility has in fact been ready to receive client systems for some time now, however as is always the way with projects of this scale and complexity, a number of tasks did run into delays for various reasons as we headed into the back quarter of last year.

Weekly overview

As much as this is a five week update – one of the longest spanning periods to date on the NLE Build Blog – it is somewhat light in visual change, as we’ve been focusing most of our attention on systems integration. Naturally, this is an incredibly important and complex part of onlining any new data centre, however it does prove a tricky side of the project to relay visually.

Regardless, we do have some photo updates to relay this time around.

We’re now finalising some of the last monitoring and control system integrations, including the monitoring system seen here forming part of our supplementary cooling infrastructure in Data Hall 1
Here we see one of the many MUXs we have across all of our POPs, which we now have branded for us
Our core network has been building up to the point of full commissioning in layers, as various devices across the facility come online for the first time – here we see the first phase fibre layer landing in place on the B-side
We have now fully deployed the internal network at London East, from core to edge
This is the same across both the A and B sides of the core network and distribution network – there will of course be further internal connections made across this platform as the first client systems land on-site
The A and B ODFs in Data Hall 1 are now also fully online, supporting our own infrastructure requirements, and ready to handle cross-connects and transit for clients as they begin to deploy live systems
ODF B in Data Hall 1 is presently more busy than ODF A, as this is where a larger quantity of our own management links come back to, due to the positioning of this ODF within the room and wider building
Private Pod
The private pod we have ready for one of our clients is fully commissioned, including custom access control, and the now fully-trimmed security panel which segments this secure space for the client
We’ve begun the installation of the new security glass system in reception, which will place the on-duty guard in a segmented area, which also secures the route to the on-site NOC
The track system for the glass is being fitted here, which will house the large, custom-cut 10mm thick security glass
The system will be comprised of a large sheet with slim opening over the desk, and a large floor-to-ceiling door and glass infills to the side, with access control
Various supplementary signage and notices have also been distributed throughout the facility, including the custom fire zone map which sits alongside the main building alarm system
We’ve pre-emptively started rolling out some more infrastructure in Data Hall 2, which remains in a partially fitted out state – this is the Honeywell PSU and control interface as part of the monitoring / BMS for this space
The final piece of the puzzle for our HV connection arrived on-site, and has now been pulled in and jointed – this is the largest diameter cable drum to arrive at NLE to date
This is specialist HV cable for connecting into our transformer, and comes on the drum as a pre-cut triplex length to be pulled in as a single piece
We had further civils underway as part of this final connection, which required a small amount of additional excavation in our demise, and another dig in the road nearby
In addition, we have two other digs happening simultaneously in the nearby area as further services arrive to site ready for opening
We’ve also completed a fully custom installation of Intelimonitor SCADA screens in each LV room, which show live status information on our generator system, which read from the sets and breakers in real-time
Here’s a closer look at the SCADA screen in LV Room B – this is a custom mounted Surface Pro, running the custom software and screen output for our particular setup

Much of the work in this period has been happening in less visual areas, including the onlining of systems and bringing them into our centralised control and monitoring platforms. This has been an ongoing part of the commissioning process for some time now, and is nearing completion.

The facility is in a position to accept client systems on a pre-staging basis, with all internal power systems online.

As we head into the final month of Q1, we’re extremely excited to be as close as we are to full readiness. We’re expecting the first client systems to begin rolling into the facility in March, which will of course be the most major milestone of this project to date.

What’s next?

We are continuing with our extensive commissioning works, which span all areas of the facility and its various systems.

All the while this is happening, the final elements relating to our core utilities are being finalised, which will bring phase one of our build to a conclusive state. There will be a certain amount of post-onlining works, which could be dubbed ‘phase one-point-five’, ahead of the later technical space expansion into Data Hall 2, which will be phase two.

We even have some early interest in our ground floor data halls for singular client project use, so it could be that plans for internal expansion are indeed brought forwards, depending on how these things come together in the coming months.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 87 to 92

We’ve had a busy start to the year as final stage works continue, taking us towards close-out on phase one at London East.

Our core team got to enjoy some much-deserved time off over the holiday season, ready for action as usual in the new year – one which is set to hold a wide range of milestones for Netwise.

Weekly overview

We’ll get straight to it with the photos this time, as we’ve got lots of changes to show our readers, which have materialised in both the run up to and exit from the holiday season.

We added a nice wide angle lens to our photography arsenal over Christmas, which will help us properly capture the scale of our new facility
Here we see Data Hall 1 in its completed state, ready to receive customer deployments in due course – Phase 1 will see the onlining of Pod 1, with the position for Pod 2 (assuming the standard full-length application) seen in the foreground
A look across Data Hall 1 to Pod 1, containing Row A and Row B
Our new wide angle lens helps us get in close to areas that would otherwise be difficult to properly show on-screen
This end of the first pod, seen held open while final work is undertaken, will be a private entrance for a client who has elected to take segregated space
The stylised vision panel privacy etching has now also been applied to Data Halls 3 and 4, until the rooms go live
A more visible view of these on the doors to Data Hall 3, which will be removed when the room goes live
The staging of our own resilient core is now well underway, with all hardware in position, and cabling now approaching completion (more visibility on this next time)
We’re now also able to begin fully integrating the new site, as systems come online and mix with our live operation
The core racks again follow our colour coding from London Central, with the A-side being yellow, and the B-side being blue
The core racks now also have customised overhead troughs to enable easier and safer cable routing between the rack and ODF
Our reception is really taking shape now, with our custom reception / security desk now in place, ahead of the glass enclosure installation coming soon – the site is already manned 24×7 in preparation for launch
Our new brushed welcome sign is now in place at the main customer entry way, leading to the data halls and technical spaces
This sign follows the same design as the NOC signage we have at both of our data centres
The NOC screens at London East are now online, and pending final completion in terms of display configuration
The LV rooms now each contain folders documenting the LV designs, for easy engineer access, and are soon to be fitted with additional smart screens for generator status readouts, in addition to the already very detailed ComAp controllers – you can also see one of the first aid kits located here, which have now been fitted throughout the facility
Our new wide angle lens has allowed us to capture the scale of our main switchgear more completely, with the full seven metre span visible here in LV Room B
The same full-view of the board in LV Room A
The view across to the UPS and distribution in LV Room A
Our small acoustic rack in the NOC, which handles local NOC communications, has now been cabled in its final configuration
One of the major tasks undertaken on our arrival back after Christmas was the final load bank test of our newly deployed backup generator system
This load bank test enabled our generator engineers to run the system up to significant levels during the configuration stage, to simulate the building load as it will be once client deployments begin landing on-site
We were able to simulate a load of 780kW across the whole system, before running generator each up to around 500kW to soak test on a per set level
Having use of this unit for the week of commissioning ensures that our backup power systems have been tested sufficiently up to suitable load figures, which is not possible using building load at this point in time
With the unit running, a large amount of heat is produced (top exit), which is how the energy requirement is created
This is a view of the fire control and extinguishant panel outside of LV Room B, which shows the custom badges we’ve had made for these units throughout the building – details, details, details!
Here we see pre-staging for our in-house assembly line for producing the circuit monitors, which will sit under each live client rack, and enable power metering which is PDU-agnostic

It’s an exciting time, as we begin to see many aspects of the new site ‘go live’ for the first time. Aside from some final elements due to close off in the coming few weeks, the site is now essentially service-ready, with some early deployment options for particular clients taking shape.

One system that we’ve been excited to see take shape is our new fully-integrated CCTV and access control platform. While we still have our long-retention continuous recording setup on all cameras, we now also have AI-driven motion tracking and sensing, which means that our system is able to follow visitors around the site automatically, generating points of interest as event triggers. This is also tied into the door entry system, which can actively track activity in the facility and record contextualised snapshots from nearby angles, to create journey data for future reference (if ever required). This level of automation is fantastic for enhancing our security.

What’s next?

Next up, we’ll be continuing with commissioning works across the board, as we liven up all areas of the site.

A look back at 2021

While the earliest stages of 2021 naturally followed in the footsteps of the year prior (one which we’d all like to forget!), things did turn for the better, and we have enjoyed a return to normality for the most part, both in work and at home.

This year has again been one of major development for us here at Netwise. London East has turned from a basic envelope with free-standing equipment to an energised data centre, which has been a wonderful thing to see take shape. We’re now very close to welcoming in our first client deployments at the new site.

Heavy investment in our future has naturally continued this year, with London East taking centre stage in that regard. Development of the new site continued on from last year, and has been underway at considerable pace for the entire 12 month period.

NLE has of course sat front and centre of our development programme, however we do have a large and ever-growing operational data centre business spanning four other locations, which means we’ve had a busy year aside to the build project.

Notable projects from 2021 include:

  • We neared completion on London East – our brand new data centre is almost ready to throw open its doors to new and existing clients. Phase one completion is now expected in January, following a design and build process which has spanned the length of the global pandemic so far, starting back in April 2020.
  • Ralph Wall joined as Sales Manager – Ralph joined as our new Sales Manager at the start of the year, assisting with the development of our sales process.
  • We rolled out a major network upgrade – in a staged upgrade action which spanned several months, we upgraded our core routing fabric in all core locations to support ongoing growth.
  • We announced our enhanced partnership with Zayo – in May, we were able to officially announce our new relationship with Zayo, as they bring their services into NLE to support our network, and to establish their own point of presence in the new facility.
  • Our POP in Telehouse expanded into North 2 – driven by client projects, we have now expanded our presence on the Telehouse Docklands campus, with the extension of services into the North 2 building. This hangs off the side of our Supernode in the original North building, and adds three further footprints to our estate there.

We always knew that 2021 would be a springboard year for us as we moved beyond the difficulties of 2020. We posted solid growth last year – which we hope remains as the toughest in recent memory – and as such had high confidence in accelerated growth in 2021. This certainly did come to fruition, as we posted by far our most impressive financials to date, which have further solidified the rock-solid stability we provide for our loyal customers.

Our clients continue to rely on our services around the clock, more now than ever before, so our continued growth and development ensures that we remain able to provide the world-class data centre services that we’ve become so well known for, onwardly enabling rapid client-side growth as the economy recovers further still.

In December, Netwise turned 12 years old, having incorporated back in 2009. We can’t quite believe that we celebrated our tenth anniversary two whole years ago. The next milestone anniversary will be our 15th, which is now just three years away – we can’t wait to see where we stand by then!

It’s fair to say that we had very humble beginnings, as illustrated by our first ever set of servers. This photo actually dates back to around 2005, which is when the first ideas that would later evolve into the first iteration of Netwise began to gestate.

Here’s a small gallery showing a few highlights along our journey so far.

To have moved from a set of old IBM tower servers to where we are today is something we’re very proud of. London East is our third private design and build project in our 12 year history, and our metro network now spans six buildings in five locations across London. Beyond our on-net capabilities, we now look after client deployments in 15 facilities, which span seven countries around the world.

On the opening of London East, we’ll have two active private data centres, providing us with 430 client enclosures. This can be expanded to 520 enclosures via a possible expansion route at London Central, and we have scope for taking this up to over 1,000+ total enclosures long-term, with possible plans for campus development at London East.

Looking ahead

With so much already in the pipeline for 2022, it’s safe to say that we’re all very excited for the year to come.

Taking NLE up to full speed is naturally the number one priority, aside to our usual headstrong mission of providing our clients with truly exceptional data centre services in our live locations.

Much like our active private facility, Netwise London Central, our newest data centre is again powered by renewable energy, and makes use of world-leading technology to ensure it maintains one of the lowest capacity PUE figures in the country (NLC: 1.12, NLE: 1.05). As organisations now begin moving towards their net-zero targets more aggressively, we’re proud to sit at the very forefront of the green infrastructure chain, ensuring our clients can scale up their mission-critical technology without fear of inflated carbon impact.

With large organisations in the UK now being tasked with publishing their net-zero transition plans by 2023, we’re expecting a surge in uptake at London East in the next 24 months, which is perfectly positioned to cater for highly efficient, renewably energised deployments at scale.

We’re also hopeful for seeing the continued return to normality for everyone, which does seem to have hit another slight stumbling block this month, what with the reintroduction of controls in response to the Omicron variant. Our general COVID response is still in place across our private data centres, and we will continue to adapt this as necessary.

We’d like to wish all of our stakeholders a fantastic New Year, and a prosperous 2022. We look forward to sharing it with you.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 83 to 86

The final stages of phase one are progressing nicely, with a wide range of commissioning and integration works now underway across the site.

It’s very exciting to see critical systems that will soon be delivering service to end users begin to come online, with hardware now starting to land in core and distribution racks for the first time.

Weekly overview

It’s been another busy few weeks on-site at London East, with the bulk of our time and effort now spent on technical commissioning work, and on the completion of outstanding finer details, as we head towards the end of the year.

Our heads are very much down as we approach the holiday period, to ensure that we reach our status targets before the new year. As such, we’ll keep this post brief, and move straight onto the photographic updates.

Our compound security fence has had its signage applied, which includes warnings about CCTV, razor wire, and other important informational signs – these span the full length, and all faces
The main visitor entry point to the facility has now been completed, including full privacy / security panelling, and our site name vinyls – London Central is having brand new panels and updated vinyls installed to match very soon
AC Plant
The CRAC and comfort cooling condenser plant is now fully installed and commissioned, and sits in a corner of the main compound – this will have its own small sub-fence installed as part of phase two
A look across the front compound to our generators, which have now had their identifier vinyls applied
The simple yet bold branding found throughout NLE continues outside, with the large format numbering now in place on our four generators
All interior signage is now complete, with this view showing the first floor directional signage in the main corridor, to direct visitors as they leave the lift and staircase atrium
All four of our riser access areas have had custom grills installed, to allow for safe and easy engineer access at any level – these are custom-cut GRP grills, installed on a custom steel frame, unique to each riser and their various penetrations
The data hall cooling control systems are now full commissioned, and the area is now being actively controlled by the new system – here we see the main status screen for Data Hall 1, which has had a fully custom holding display built to show real-time information from within the space
The final stages of the power system commissioning works are underway, which includes all integration settings on our main switchboards – this is a view of the main status screen in LV B
The network rollout has begun at the core, which will be followed shortly thereafter by aggregation and management roll-out in the data halls – here we see ODF B in Data Hall 1 being prepared for fit-out
This is the temporary setup in ODF B, which enabled some of the commissioning works to proceed ahead of having the main network in place – this also shows the custom vertical mounting arrangement we’ve deployed in these cabinets, to house switches
Here we see the UPSs in LV B at around 75% completion, pending the final UPS being rolled into place in the empty position on the left, which is as far as this room will see deployment during phase one
This is the front view in LV A, showing the fully completed UPS setup
The rear view of the UPS arrangement in LV A, with this space now phase one complete (aside from finishing touches to come post-commissioning)
The staging of our own core has now begun for both A and B sides – here we see the A side, with the main comms rack now staged ahead of cabling, which will happen once the ODF is also fitted out in the coming days, at which point the side panels will be fitted back onto the main rack
Here we see the B side, which again has the ODF fit-out to follow – this side contains some of the BT infrastructure delivered to site, so is further along in terms of deployment

We’re very pleased with progress, and we are very much enjoying the sight of things coming together. Being at the point whereby hardware is being installed into racks is another major milestone in this project, and an aspect of the build that our team tend to enjoy most as data centre professionals. This is when the facility begins to truly come to life, and systems are interconnected and brought into the Netwise ecosystem for the first time.

While there’s still plenty to be done in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we’re also all looking forward to our company Christmas party, which is now only a week or so away. We’ve got plenty to look back on this year, so we’re thrilled to get everyone together and celebrate our achievements.

What’s next?

Commissioning and integration will consume the bulk of our time on-site at NLE, ahead of the holidays. This will prepare the space for occupation in January. We’re extremely excited to see the new site integrated into our existing architecture in the coming weeks, becoming the fifth major POP on our metro network.

We’re also getting into the Christmas sprit on-site, which is always nice!