London East Build Blog – Weeks 37 to 39

Our team enjoyed some much-needed time off over Christmas, following a long run of works on-site at NLE in the closing months of 2020.

This first instalment of the Build Blog for the new year shows the current state of the facility as we head firmly into 2021 – the year in which our new site will launch to clients for the first time.

Before we start, did you catch our NLE envelope time lapse video? If not, here it is again for your viewing pleasure!


Weekly overview

The first few weeks of January have primarily been comprised of desk work, bringing end-out plans together as we enter the next phase of development.

As part of this, we’ve made great strides in finalising plans for our diverse dark fibre routes, which we will be announcing very soon.

Aside to planning work, we’ve also been completing some smaller tasks on-site, which have helped keep progress up despite the Christmas break and the focus on more general plans and scheduling.

So here’s an update of photos showing additional work completed since our last update, along with some general site photos to serve as a starting point for the Build Blog in 2021.

Checkerplate
Here we see some of our new checkerplate cladding being prepared for installation to the wall system in high-risk areas
Checkerplate
The checkerplate installed along the first floor corridor, to protect the walls throughout customer routes
Checkerplate
Another view of the first floor corridor with its checkerplate in place
DH1
A look at the checkerplate which flanks both sides of Data Hall 1 (and will follow in all other halls), protecting walls behind the outward-facing row of racks in each pod
DH1
A look at the evaporative cooling system and cold corridor containment at the rear of Data Hall 1, with the flanking checkerplate on both sides of the room visible
DH1
Here we see the rear of the CREC system in Data Hall 1, which is the cold corridor space
DH1
One of the two supplementary air conditioning downflow units in place in Data Hall 1
DH1
A look across Data Hall 1, to the temporarily placed racks, showing the second supplementary air conditioning downflow unit in place
Checkerplate
A view down the length of the first floor corridor, with the completed checkerplate fitted
DH2
Here we see the two supplementary downflow AC units in place in Data Hall 2, ready for future occupancy
DH2
This is the full blank system in place in Data Hall 2, which will be replaced with evaporative coolers at the time of conversion into an occupiable colocation space
DH2
This closer view of the custom blanking system, which is used to create the dynamic cold corridor space, shows full population with blanks – there are final finishing blank strips to be installed along the top of the plinths, along the floor edge
DH2
This is a rear view of the CREC blanking system in Data Hall 2, comprised exclusively of blanks, with the rear access panels for filter changes in the plinths visible along the floor line
First Floor Loading
Our first floor loading bay has also now been clad in checkerplate
First Floor Loading
The view looking towards the warehouse from the first floor loading bay, which will have a special fall risk safety system installed once the site is live
Loading
A view down into the loading bay, as the warehouse checkerplate sheets for that area are test-fitted
DH3
Data Hall 3 on the ground floor is currently being used as an extended storage room while works are ongoing
DH3
An alternative view of Data Hall 3, and some of the items currently held in this space while works continue
DH4
Data Hall 4 remains the emptiest white space inside the new facility at this time
DH4
Another view across Data Hall 4
DH4
This view of Data Hall 4 shows the adaptable cold corridor space that will hold the future cooling plant for this space, in whichever format best suits at the time of fit-out – this also leaves options open for private room conversion for a single large tenant
DR
This view from the rear corner of the DR suite space shows the room ready for future fit-out, later in the build process
Ground Floor Loading
This is the ground floor loading bay, looking out into the warehouse, which sits directly below the first floor space of the same nature
Ground Corridor
A look down the ground floor access corridor, with the entrances to Data Halls 3 and 4 seen on the right – this space will have its checkerplate installed in the coming weeks
Entrance
A view down the entry way ramp to the speed gates, which are close to having their integration completed
Lift
The first floor atrium at the top of the stairs, showing the lift internals nearing completion
Stairs
The view down to the entrance ramp, from the first floor atrium / landing, with what will be our two-story green wall clad in timber on the left
Stairs
The custom made triple-flight access staircase which sits centrally within the new facility
Stairs
A look up the double-height atrium from the first staircase landing, with the timber clad shaft wall shown on the right, which will have the green wall fitted to it
LV
This is a view inside one of our LV power rooms, with some of the UPS and battery enclosures in temporary dust wraps held for future use in this space
LV
This is the same LV room as above, looking out towards one of the the risers (left) and the ground floor loading bay
LV
This is the second LV room, a reflection of the first, with the same kit in temporary dust wraps ready for future deployment
LV
The reversed viewing angle from the above LV room, again showing a riser (right), leading into the ground floor atrium
NOC
The completed feature / texture wall in place in the NLE meeting space, which matches the tiles used on the large feature wall at the NLC NOC
Build Room
This is our new build room and customer breakout area, with some white goods now on-site ahead of kitchen installation in due course

The checkerplate is the most obvious visual addition since the last instalment of the Build Blog, covering the walls in all high foot fall customer routes. This gives much-needed protection and a great deal of added visual energy to the space. Custom plates for all high risk doors will also be installed soon.

The reason for having most of the ceiling tiles still in a state of removal is simply for ease of ongoing access. We still need easy accessibility above the grid for cabling overhead services during the build, and as such we will only be installing the tiles once access requirements calm down. This is to ensure the tiles are installed with the least amount of disturbance once in place.

As you can see from the wider facility photo set, the progress made in the last ~8 months is impressive to say the least. As a reminder of where we’ve come from in that time, we’ve included a set of day one photos of the space below.

Warehouse 1
A view from the rear of the main warehouse area
Warehouse 3
The main warehouse space, viewed from the front, with the existing amenities block in view
Office NOC
A view across the office and future NOC area

What our team have managed to achieve in this time is staggering (even more so as this all occurred in the middle of a global pandemic!), and we’re incredibly proud of everyone involved, particularly as we move onto the next phase of energisation, preparing us for launch later this year.


What else has been happening?

We’ve expanded our team!

We’ll be making the official announcement soon, although the hawked eyed among you may have already seen this causing quite a stir online.

We’ve also been going through our first ISO recertification audit, following our initial accreditation to both ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 back in 2017. This will renew our certificates for another three years, with annual surveillance audits covering the 12 month cycles in between. The scope of our certifications will be expanded later this year, to include the new NLE site. This is our first fully remote audit, thanks to the COVID pandemic, which has been an interesting new approach to the audit process.


What’s next?

Planning on the next phase of electrical works will continue, with a number of exciting developments to announce very soon.

We’ll also be continuing with a wide variety of supplementary works, which will includes taking delivery of our first customer enclosure pod; racks, containment, blanks etc, which will allow us to layout our first occupiable colocation space within Data Hall 1.

A look back at 2020

What a difficult year 2020 has been for everyone around the world.

While this year will certainly stand as one to forget for many, we’re going to remember 2020 for a long time, as a year of extremely exciting developments here at Netwise.

A look back at 2020

This has been our largest year of investment to date, having broken ground on our brand new London East data centre back in April. Unsurprisingly, this is by far our biggest single project to date, and will provide the capacity we need to continue with our upward growth projections as we head into the new decade.

While NLE has taken centre stage this year in terms of investment and development, it’s been a busy year aside to this, across a wide range of key areas.

Notable projects from 2020 include:

  • We started work on London East – we started work on our brand new London East data centre in April. We’ve been running our Build Blog ever since then – needless to say, we’re very excited about what 2021 will have in store for us and our new site.
  • Graham Cornell joined as Technical Manager – Graham joined as our new Technical Manager in January, and has been hard at work helping our growing roster of clients ever since.
  • THN became our first Supernode – in March, we upgraded our core node in Telehouse North, becoming the first on-net site to enjoy the roll out of our full Supernode architecture.
  • We added CLL to our POP list – the summertime saw the roll out of a brand new on-net POP / node at City Lifeline, one of London’s most important carrier-dense facilities – we took a pod of racks here, to secure our future in this location.
  • We took delivery of our first fleet vehicle – our first fleet vehicle joined us this year – number 001 – which has since received our full livery and chevron kit. This will be joined by further vehicles in due course, and makes the ongoing operation and maintenance of our multiple facilities much easier (along with client migrations).
  • We expanded into FRA and AMS – we’ve expanded our presence in Frankfurt, and have entered the Amsterdam market for the first time, all driven by client growth in these key European locations.
  • Our first private cage went live – we deployed our first private client cage at our London Central site in Q1, allowing one of our key clients to enjoy an entirely private space in Data Hall 1, complete with their own access control and build desk.
  • COVID-19 safe operations – in line with changing government guidelines throughout the year, we’ve always ensured fully-compliant operation of our sites, both in terms of our own team, and visiting clients.

Beyond the roster of notable projects above, we’ve also performed extremely well in our 19-20 financial year, which came to an end in October. Despite global economic issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re fortunate to operate in a sector which has seen accelerated growth and demand as organisations move to remote working.

We hope that our continued growth in what has been a very turbulent year provides the stability our customers need to operate with total peace of mind, thanks to the faultless operations of critical business systems around the clock.

We helped many new and existing customers pivot to fully-remote working environments back in April, which we’ve continued to do throughout the year.

Our growth this year has been testament to our rock-solid operation, which our clients continue to rely on for their critical IT infrastructure. We’ve been extremely proud to see so many of our clients continue to grow this year, providing world-class services to millions of end-users all around the world.


Looking ahead

We’re looking forward to 2021 just as much as everyone else, not least as we expect to return to a more normal home life, but also as we see the fruits of our labour this year come into full service.

In early 2021, we’ll be adding to our team, which we’re very excited to share with everyone in January.

A reminder of our exciting 10th birthday, which we celebrated at the end of 2019

We’d like to wish all of our stakeholders a fantastic New Year, and a prosperous 2021. We look forward to sharing it with you.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 35 and 36

As we head towards the Holiday Season, we’ve been able to clear away a range of outstanding tasks on our list, setting things up nicely for the continuation of scheduled work in Q1 2021.

This short entry covers the items that have seen progress in the weeks leading up to the Festive holiday.


Weekly overview

We’ll be keeping this post relatively brief, however we’ve seen dramatic developments in a couple of key areas; cooling and lighting.

The entire first floor is now fully lit through the Klik system, which provides power to our overhead LED panels. This means that all temporary site lighting on the first floor can now be removed. Emergency bulkheads have also been wired up, ready for final directional label application in due course.

We’ve also built out our cooling system much further, with Data Halls 1 and 2 now very near completion, ahead of plumbing and cabling. The supplementary air conditioning systems are now also in place, pending commissioning much later in the project.

Lights
We lit up the first floor of the facility with full overhead lighting for the first time
Fire Stairs
Although our new first floor fire exit got installed a little while back, we haven’t yet shown it – here it is, providing a new fire exit route to the rear of the first floor data halls
Fire Stairs
Another view of the fire exit, taken from the rear access walkway
Cooling
Here we see the cooling system being married up to its custom blanking system
Cooling
Here we see the completed system in Data Hall 1 (pending commissioning), showing blanking panels and return-to-atmosphere louvres
Cooling
Here we see a set of coolers, and an interconnecting blank, which in due course can be removed to allow for the installation of additional cooling capacity
Cooling
A look at the now fully-situated cooling plant and containment system, pending some final low-level blanks, which now forms the zoning of the cold corridor
Cooling
This is the view of the cooling plant in Data Hall 2, which at this time is entirely populated with blanks, pending commissioning of the hall in due course
Cooling
A wider view of the blanking system in Data Hall 2, pending the louvre installation along the top edge

The past few weeks have been vital in driving the project forwards, as we continue to line up the various items required for the next phase of the build.


What else has been happening?

We have two new deployments underway in Frankfurt and Amsterdam, which have been in the works now for some time. These will reach completion in the next few weeks, with a large number of high-specification servers and high-performance connectivity rolling out in both locations.

These have both been top-to-bottom deployments for us, from consultation, hardware supply, project management, right through to provisioning.

We’re very excited to see these two new systems come online. Amsterdam will be a new location for Netwise, and the roll-out in Frankfurt sees us expand our existing footprint in Germany’s most important data centre hub.

We’ve also had confirmation this week of our plans for fully diverse fibre routes back to our core nodes in THN and LD8, which is great news. The ball is now rolling on installation of these lines, which will provide us with dark fibre access to our existing metro network. Our network will then span five key London data centres.

In other news, we’ve been working directly with TfL to update the content on our travel notice screen in reception at NLC, which will carry over to a the new system being installed at NLE. Look out for the updated screens on-site at our facilities soon!


What’s next?

We will be continuing with progress on outstanding items throughout the holiday season, ready for larger trade work to continue in Q1. This will most notably include the electrical portion of the project – both HV and LV – which will take us right through to the point of onlining the site.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 32 to 34

With the internal shell now complete, and with far fewer trades now on-site until the electrical works begin, we’ve been able to get various supplementary works underway across a number of key areas.

The last few weeks have proved to be an excellent springboard for getting things like access control integration started, with the first doors at NLE now online and interacting with our core systems at NLC.


Weekly overview

While final plans and schedules for the LV and HV electrical works continue, we’ve been able to press ahead on-site with a range of supplementary projects which have helped to drive forward general progress.

We’ve spent time on the main access control elements, which will secure the client entry points to the facility. This includes the frame installation of our turnstile, the integration of the main reception door onto the access control system, and the deployment of our lovely new Boon Edam speed gates.

Speedgates
The first of our three speedgate terminals fixed down to the floor in our entrance foyer, seen against the grey feature wall which runs the length of this area
Speedgates
A view of all three speedgate terminals now in place, which make up one large double-leaf access lane, and one smaller single-leaf pedestrian access lane
Speedgates
Here we see the interconnecting conduit now installed, with flood cabling in place between all three terminals for power, data and fire integration
Speedgates
A look at the custom DIN rail installed at the base of each terminal, to handle incoming and outgoing connections for all cable services
Speedgates
We’re fully integrating these speedgates with our Paxton door entry system, and as such, the two lanes each have a Net2 Plus control board internally mounted
Speedgates
A look at the progressing installation from the top of the access ramp
Speedgates
This view shows the conduit as it pitches up the feature wall for overhead access to service routes above the ceiling line
Frontdoor
Here we see the front door access control systems being installed, which will also house control points for the main compound turnstile
Frontdoor
This 600kg maglock matches those used at NLC, and is the result of a fully custom installation with parts fabricated in-house to achieve the correct mounting position
Frontdoor
Here we see the inside of the front door, as the access hardware begins to reach final state, pending the door exit mushroom button
Frontdoor
The outside of the main entrance, with the newly mounted entry panel on the left to match those found at NLC, along with various pieces of custom door security furniture
Frontdoor
A closer look at the matching door entry panel, which will also feature on the main turnstile as to replicate NLC’s secure entry setup – the colour match is quite impressive, and purely coincidental!
Frontdoor
The door entry control panel boxes seen with their installation nearing completion
Frontdoor
A look at the completed door entry control enclosures and associated power distribution, which now neatly hide many hours of termination work
Envelope
A quick look at some of the now fully-completed door systems, this one showing the entrance to one of our LV power rooms, and the ground floor lift entrance – this is being custom painted to match all other doors soon
Envelope
A view down the length of the ground floor corridor, with the entrance to Data Hall 4 in the foreground, leading on to the entrance to Data Hall 3 – the fully-integrated Paxton readers are visible here, as part of the handle assembly
Hardhat
With hard hat tours starting in early 2021, we’ve been getting the tour PPE kit on-site ready for use by our visitors
Hardhat
We’ve again gone with high-quality Dickies vests, which we’ve used for our engineering hi-vis vests for some time now, along with custom branded black hard hats

Alongside access control works, we’ve also now flood cabled the first data hall with its final lighting cables, which means we can begin to light the data halls with their overhead LED panels for the first time.

We’ve also had trades back on-site over the past few weeks to bring all doors to full completion, which includes the checking of tile stability around the frames, and adjusting all doors for their opening angles and closing speeds. Given the number of door systems installed, this is quite the undertaking.

Though not something pictured, our lift is now operational, and can move between floors. We’re now just waiting on some final integration work to be undertaken, which will bring that particular element of the project to a close.

The custom frame system we’ve had designed for our cooling plant and cold corridors arrived during this time, which we hope to begin installing in the next couple of weeks, on the lead up to Christmas.


What’s next?

Details are now finalised on much of the HV and LV front, meaning we’re close to having that stage of the project begin.

In the lead up to this, we’ll be continuing with lighting, access control, and the chequer plating of all client areas.

Another major job that will be undertaken both now and throughout the electrical installation works will be the integration of our new CREC system. This will include getting the coolers plumbed, powered and interconnected for their control systems, along with the installation of our custom-fabricated containment frame, which will blank off any cooler bays which are presently unoccupied, as well as providing a mounting location for the extraction louvres.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 30 and 31

We’re very excited to show you another transformative fortnight of works on-site at NLE, as the internal envelope of our new data centre reaches full completion.

We’re now looking at a complete internal shell, giving us the physical structure we need to begin installing equipment and deploying electrical services.


Weekly overview

As you can see from the range of shots below, we’re now at a major turning point in this project. The internal shell has now been signed off as complete (with one final pass for minor snags pending), meaning we have the final internal structure of the building set and ready for the next phase of works that will take us into early 2021.

The facility is now presented with immaculate, high specification white spaces for all technical deployments, as well as our usual top tier front of house amenities, something our clients continue to take great advantage of at our London Central data centre.

Floor
A look at the flooring in Data Hall 3 as it moves across the space, towards completion
Floor
The floor reaching completion in Data Hall 4, as it hits the door aperture ahead of the door kit being installed
Floor
A view of the floor in Data Hall 3 as it encloses the mezzanine supports, which will have tiles cut in to fully wrap around
Floor
The completed raised access floor in the ground floor corridor area, with one of the door kits installed for entry to Data Hall 4
Floor
The floor being cut in around the access stair case in the atrium on the ground floor
Floor
The ground floor access atrium, showing a completed door system alongside an awaiting aperture, as well as the differing floor layouts across each space, so as to reflect the ceiling grids in each space exactly – thresholds will be installed between rooms
Doors
A look at the doors installed in the Build Room and Customer Breakout Area, showing a solid twin-leaf riser door set on the left, and the main room access door on the right, ajar
Doors
An open door set for entry into Data Hall 3 – all data halls have the same double-door setup for easy access with equipment
Doors
A look down the first floor corridor, with all door sets now installed
Doors
A set of solid twin-leaf doors for entry into one of our LV rooms, with a view out onto the ground floor loading platform in the warehouse area – our fully-integrated Paxton door access systems can also be seen here, as part of the door handle assembly
Envelope
A final pass of envelope finishing works are now also underway, with this shot showing a new custom finishing trim installed to cover the ground-to-first floor joining seam in our double-height atrium
Equipment
Here we see a pair of UPS’s and their associated battery enclosures, along with a set of core network racks, which are being held in one of our LV rooms – with temporary dust bags / wraps still in place
Equipment
This is an exciting shot, showing the first client enclosures placed in Data Hall 1, which gives an idea of real-world placement for the first time
Equipment
This angle shows placement of the first vent tiles, which will supply cool air from the underfloor plenum to the first pod of racks in Data Hall 1
Equipment
This contextual angle shows the placed racks in relation to the cooling plant, now sited at the rear of Data Hall 1, backing onto the cold corridor
Coolers
Here we see four CRECs in place on their custom plinths in Data Hall 1, which will cool the opening phase of this space, to be followed by a further four units when required
Coolers
This is a closer look at the next-generation CREC system that we’re installing at NLE, ahead of a fully custom blanking system for the currently empty cooler bays, which will also house our custom extraction system
Exterior
A night time exterior shot, taken from the front compound, looking towards our warehouse and loading bay

As you can see in some of the shots of our new doors above, we’re using a fully integrated Paxton system, with the card readers forming part of the handle assembly. This not only keeps our facility access installation as neat and as clean as possible, but will also massively improve the time to onlining the system, as these readers operate wirelessly.

We’ve also been working on some addition access infrastructure, including our main entrance turnstile, and the pedestrian access gates which lead from reception into the technical side of the facility; more on this next time.

All of our lighting cable specifications are now with our manufacturer, who are going to be assembling these for us for compatibility with our Klik system. These are all being made to length, using the specialist Klik hardware, which will enable rapid installation to the overhead grid once it all arrives on-site. This will allow us to light all rooms using the overhead LED panels, and allow for the removal of all temporary site lighting.

We’re incredibly excited to have reached this point, as we now begin what will be the most critical phase of technical works – preparing to properly energise the facility. This is still a little way off of course, however we are now moving into the set of works that will enable this to happen.


What else has been happening?

After a lengthy wait while we got everything just right, we’re now also in a position to tease our new van, which will be the first of our new fleet – aptly named ‘001’.

Van
The side of our van features both our main logo, as well as an oversized matt finish logomark as an abstract background
Van
The rear of the van features a full Chapter 8 chevron kit, as well as more detailing on the door panels – amber light bar still to follow

This, coupled with our custom flight cases, makes inter-facility migrations and new deployments an absolute breeze.

Since our last instalment of the build blog, we’ve also seen new restrictions come into play with regards to the national response to COVID-19. We are of course following these guidelines closely, as we did during the first set of restrictions earlier this year, and will continue to do so.

As a result, we’ve now implemented Test and Trace QR codes at both of our sites, which should be used during normal check in procedures. This helps us to keep everyone safe, and to keep our facilities running without a hitch 24×7, as your businesses rely more heavily than ever before on remote services held within data centres.


What’s next?

With the envelope now complete, we will be moving onto electrical works in the very near future. This includes both internal LV work, and external HV work.

On the lead up to this next phase beginning, we will be undertaking a wide range of tasks to bring other aspects of the project either to completion, or to a stage that makes their completion post-electrical works much more straight forward.