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.

Compound
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
Compound
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
Gens
A look across the front compound to our generators, which have now had their identifier vinyls applied
Gens
The simple yet bold branding found throughout NLE continues outside, with the large format numbering now in place on our four generators
Signage
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
Riser
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
Cooling
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
Power
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
ODF
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
ODF
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
UPS
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
UPS
This is the front view in LV A, showing the fully completed UPS setup
UPS
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)
Comms
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
Comms
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!

London East Build Blog – Weeks 79 to 82

We breathed life into many of the main power systems for the first time in this instalment, with commissioning actions underway on our primary switchboards and our backup generator systems.

The push towards phase one completion has seen many exciting milestone events reached in a short space of time, which is always great to see. We’ve energised the main switchboards, integrated and tested the generator failover, and removed the temporary site power, amongst a range of other system commissioning tasks.


Weekly overview

Things are sharpening up quickly on-site, as a wide range of systems begin to spin to life for testing and commissioning, ready to begin serving client kit in due course.

We’ve hit a number of milestones this time around, including the testing and commissioning of our cooling systems throughout the building (both critical and comfort), and the same point reached on our fire detection and extinguishant panels, both building-wide and the enhanced systems in critical spaces.

Speedgates
The speedgate area has been carpeted through from the main entrance and reception, to finish off the space ready for client arrivals
LV
The cooling systems throughout the building have now been commissioned and tested, with cold and warm air now available in all critical spaces
LV
Our UPS commissioning is well underway, with the main units now interconnected with the UPS output boards
LV
The building is now powered through the primary switchgear and distribution boards, with all temporary site power now fully decommissioned and removed
DH1
A look across Data Hall 1 after it’s had its initial post-work clean, with one of the supplementary AC units open for commissioning
DH1
A look across Data Hall 1, towards the first pod of racks
DH1
The four CREC units have now been brought to life, with cooling, recirculation and extraction now tested and proven
DH1
Both the primary CREC and supplementary CRAC systems feed into the shared underfloor plenum, which will distribute closely controlled air to all footprints in DH1
DH1
The entrance into the cold corridor in Data Hall 1 is the first view of our new signage design language (just visible here!)
DH1
The view towards the A-side power distribution in Data Hall 1, with ODF A visible on the right hand side
DH1
The primary CREC system has now had all filters installed – here we see the 28x quad-fin air intake filters, this being the first layer of filtration before hitting the multi-stage filtration inside each cooler
DH1
It’s been very exciting to see the cooling system spun up for the first time, and fantastic to see the real-world culmination of all our design and simulation work
DH1
Here we see some of the detail as you enter the cold corridor from Data Hall 1, showing the lighting system and the access hatch for the otherwise-sealed extraction loop
Loading
Our warehouse and loading bay now has large floor lettering / numbering on each receiving dock door for quick and easy identification while loading and/or unloading
Loading
These large format letters / numbers all form part of our new design language, which has now begun to roll out throughout the facility
Signage
We’ve opted for a more modern approach to our signage at London East, an evolution of the design at London Central – simplicity and clarity is the main order of the day here
Signage
All internal signage is now direct-application vinyl, in our custom font to match all digital and print assets – aside from a few 3D logo and type elements
Signage
Here we see one of the larger multi-directional signs to guide visitors around the facility
Signage
Each corridor and main customer route has multi-directional signage in place to guide visitors through the building
Signage
The frosted / etch effect pod door vinyls have returned, as found at NLC as part of our rebrand in 2019
Wifi
Visitors will now see wifi access points and access control beacons in various places throughout the facility – the wifi is an extension of the mesh deployed at London Central, meaning you’ll automatically connect at East if you’ve already done so at Central

As you can imagine, with much of the work on-site now commissioning actions, presenting this visually for the build blog is tricky. We’re hoping to put together another fly-through video soon, to show phase one completion.

Another unseen but extremely critical area which reached completion this time around is our fire stopping, which has now seen all additional wall apertures cut in since initial construction fully sealed and certified. This ensures that the building fully complies with our extremely strict fire design and operation policies.

With all of the broad strokes of the project now complete, we’re able to begin working through the more detailed finishing work, while system commissioning actions continue.


What’s next?

As is to be expected at this point in the project, more of the same.

We’re quickly moving towards welcoming in our first client systems, with the final set of work ahead of this to focus on UPS systems, network integration, and general facility commissioning (things like onlining our NOC for CCTV and systems monitoring).

London East Build Blog – Weeks 75 to 78

The pace has certainly picked up now, as we push towards phase one completion at London East.

This acute focus has left little time for the blog, and as broad strokes visual change has slowed down at this point, we’ve put together a four week short summary of the last month on-site at NLE.


Weekly overview

Phase one completion will see the facility ready to take its first clients, which is an enormous milestone for us here at Netwise.

There will still be some ongoing works beyond phase one, which will include things like our customer lounge and some other secondary niceties, as primary focus at this point is getting the technical spaces completed and ready to receive live client systems.

Looking slightly further ahead still, phase two will involve the preparation and roll-out of further technical space, making use of the other data halls, which given the amount of work put in ahead of time for this will certainly come to fruition much more quickly. This is expected in 2022, and will be based on a dynamic roll-out schedule, driven largely by demand.

The largest area of progress in this instalment of the build blog has been centred around air conditioning. This is not our primary cooling source in the technical spaces at NLE, with that role falling to our extremely efficient adiabatic systems, however traditional AC does still play a crucial role in both supplementary cooling in critical spaces, and comfort cooling in customer and staff areas.

Cooling
This is a view inside the cooling control system unit for Data Hall 1, as the internal termination reaches completion
Cooling
The pipework for both the supplementary CRAC systems and the comfort cooling throughout the building are comprised of some very long pipe runs, depending on the location of the internal equipment
Cooling
Some of the pipe runs for the AC systems have been fairly complex, because of their routes, and because of how split systems have their pipework distributed between endpoints
Cooling
One of the main convergent runs of AC pipework can be found on our storage mezzanine, as the runs cross towards the exterior condenser area
Cooling
Here we see one of the main runs coming together, which traverses the storage mezzanine before reaching the exterior skin and turning down towards the point of exit
Cooling
Power cabling also joins the pipework runs, with drainage to follow
Cooling
Here’s a snapshot of the complex manifold work happening in one of the ceilings, as the split systems are evenly distributed to ensure even pressure
Cooling
This is the AC unit in the build room and customer breakout area, as the cabling begins to be terminated internally
Cooling
All comfort cooling systems have in-room control panels
Cooling
This is the control panel for the system in another customer amenity space, which also allows for remote operation and monitoring
Cooling
Here we see some of the external condensers being worked on by our AC engineers
Cooling
The external condensers are laid out in a grid which enables plenty of future growth
Cooling
The larger condensers here are for the supplementary downflow units in the data halls, temporarily stood on their rubber feet ahead of permanent fixture
Lighting
Here we see the overhead lighting system installation underway in the cold corridor area for Data Hall 1 – this is where external air is filtered and processed for our primary CRAC system
Power
The UPSs and UPS switchboards are now in place and terminated in LV B, to match the state in LV A
Power
Our main LV switchboards in both LV rooms have now had their line diagram vinyls fitted, taking both boards to completion ahead of energisation for commissioning and setup
Power
The line diagrams are fitted to all switchboards, including the smaller sub-boards for the UPS systems
Racks
Here we see one of our custom designed security panels fitted to Pod 1 in Data Hall 1, for the privatisation of racks within said containment system
Razor
We’ve now fitted the razor wire to the top of our compound fencing, which aside from adding electric motor controls to the main gate, takes this area to completion
Razor
The razor wire now runs the entire perimeter of the facility
Razor
We designed a custom implementation of the razor wire retention system to allow for the retraction of our large vehicle access gate
Spraying
As part of the final stage of work, we’ve had any construction marks and / or damage on our metal clad panel walls repaired, which included full panel respraying where necessary
Spraying
Any panels with damage incurred during the build have been returned to factory condition
Spraying
The spray team were able to achieve a truly flawless finish
Spraying
We’re very pleased with the outcome of the retouch and repair works undertaken throughout the facility
VESDA
The VESDA pipework has now been installed in both LV rooms

As you can see, NLE is still an extremely busy site, with lots of finishing stage work underway. Yet so much more of the work being undertaken at this point is not of a visual nature; commissioning of power systems, access control, network setup, CCTV etc, these are all tasks with little to photograph. However progress across all of these areas will be relayed when suitable.

We’re certainly entering into an exciting period of the build, as major systems begin to see energisation for the first time.


What’s next?

More of the same as we head towards phase one end-out. Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of the blog, which will show much of the major infrastructure being onlined for the first time!

London East Build Blog – Weeks 71 to 74

Now that raised floors have started to go back down, and termination of cabling is essentially complete, impactful visual change has slowed down slightly, however progress is still pushing forwards at great pace.

We’ve been preparing for some of the final trades to land on site to end-out phase one, which will include the CRAC pipework team and the wall fabrication team from earlier in the project, who will be finishing off some of the final cooling system segregation now that the fans are installed.


Weekly overview

Much of the change this time centres around supplementary cooling, VESDA / fire panels, and data cabling for things such as CCTV, access control and monitoring / system control.

We’re now very much in the end-out phase of the project at this point, which means that various elements that until now were operating separately are coming together quickly.

For example, our evaporative cooling units are now connected back to both their power delivery and control systems, meaning that they will soon be ready for their first spin up and test. This is the same for a number of the core systems which make up the infrastructure of the facility.

AC
We now have most of the building-wide comfort cooling in place for client and staff areas, including here in the build room and customer lounge
AC
Here we see the ceiling mounted AC unit mirrored on the other side of the building, and the same units are now also present in the NOC / office
AC
We’ve also got three high performance models installed in each of the LV rooms, with room for a fourth in due course as and when required based on UPS expansion
AC
Our VESDA pipework is now installed in Data Hall 1 and pre-emptively in Data Hall 2
VESDA
This is the view of the installation in Data Hall 2, which we are pre-staging for future use, along with all other baseline infrastructure – this will speed up the commissioning process for this hall dramatically once it’s needed
VESDA
This is the view of the VESDA installation in Data Hall 1
VESDA
This is a slightly wider view of the VESDA installation in Data Hall 1, showing the various sampling pathways as they leave the main unit, and also showing the B-side PDUs for distribution to client racks, and the earthing bar for the hall
VESDA
Here we see the VESDA pipework installed in Data Hall 2, along the blanking system at the rear which will eventually house the CRECs for this hall
CREC
The CREC units in Data Hall 1 have now had their power and control system cables installed, which brings them up to readiness for commissioning in due course
ODF
The ODFs in Data Hall 1 are starting to take shape, with containment now run in from both high and low levels – here, one of the newly installed cleaner sockets is also visible, as part of a wider ring installed throughout the building to support such requirements
ODF
This is the B-side ODF, with a range of cabling now run back to it to support various functions in Data Hall 1, such as CCTV, monitoring and system controls
Pod
Here we see the entrance to the first committed private pod in Data Hall 1, which after some forthcoming adjustments to access control and visual identity, will be handed over to the client in Q4
Pod
Another view of the pod entry door systems that we use with our APC racking and containment system, which are operated electronically
Power
This floating, conduit-free cleaners socket is achieved by ensuring that it backs onto one of our risers, meaning all containment for the cabling is hidden from view, something we have done wherever possible for a clean installation
Power
This is the cleaners socket as installed alongside ODF B in Data Hall 1, which due to its positioning does require conduit access to under floor containment
Power
The UPS boards are now landing back in place in both LV rooms, having been removed during the flood cabling process
Power
Another view of the PDUs which distribute B-side power in Data Hall 1, with all internals now completely terminated, and ready to hand-off power to client racks
Reception
We now have our new reception desk standing in place, which will be finished with branding and a glass security and visitor flow system in due course
Reception
Another view of the reception desk as placed in an approximation of its final position

We’re getting to the point at which photographing visual change is likely to slow down somewhat, as we move onto more detailed work such as the interconnection of critical systems, and the onlining of various electrical elements including CCTV and door access control.

Excitement is starting to build as the many months of extremely hard work from all those involved begins to show its final fruits, which will become all the more exciting as we start to see systems roar into life.


What’s next?

While build and installation works will continue in a few final areas – such as CRAC pipework, final airflow containment for extraction in Data Hall 1, and the end stages of general system containment – we are now also in a position to begin the early-stage commissioning process.

We are entering an exciting phase of the project, as things finally begin to slot back into place after a good few months of ordered chaos; a necessary evil associated with the extensive electrical work required to take the building from completed shell to functioning data centre.

Over the next few weeks, we expect to see the site visually return to a state of completion (for phase one), at which point the site will be onlined, and commissioning of critical systems will begin in earnest.