London East Build Blog – Weeks 49 to 51

Things are really heating up now in terms of progress on-site at NLE, as we document another three weeks of work at our forthcoming data centre.

We’re almost at the one year mark in terms of when we first gained access to the new building, and despite some setbacks early on due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been extremely pleased with how quickly we’ve transformed the site from shell to data centre.

We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting ever closer!

Weekly overview

The last three weeks have seen tremendous progress across a wide range of project areas. The most notable changes have centred around the physical adjustments to the rear of the facility, as the first set of louvred intake panels are cut into the exterior walls for Data Hall 1.

Our custom cable cover ramps have been installed as part of our client flow speed gates
The coolers for Data Hall 1 now have their water supply and drains plumbed in
The cooling controller for Data Hall 1 has now had its trunking installed, which connects through to the routes in the data hall itself
Fire Panels
The fire panels have started to have their containment installed, with cables now run in to them for future commissioning
Fire Panels
Here we see some more fire panel containment and cabling, along with the route being taken by our single run of MDPE pipework for the cooling supply
Fire Panels
The containment during installation inside Data Hall 1 for fire systems, including the main panels and VESDA system
Fire Panels
This shows a near-complete containment assembly for the VESDA system in Data Hall 2, which allows for multiple route options between equipment
The first set of louvres being cut into the rear elevation of Data Hall 1’s cold corridor, with frames being installed
The first set of louvres installed ahead of having their rear bag filter frames fitted – there will be a second run of these louvres installed underneath these, giving 28 external intake louvres per hall in total
Another view of the first set of louvres installed for Data Hall 1
An exterior view of the louvres as installed, ahead of the second run below this set, and some finishing flashings that will be install on completion
The louvres for Data Hall 1 are split across the fire escape door
The black textured wall in the meeting room at the NLE NOC also doubles as a handy pin board, which is ideal for displaying various technical drawings during the build process
Pod 1
Pod 1 in Data Hall 1 is now fully assembled, with both automatic doors now installed and powered
Pod 1
A view across Data Hall 1, at the now fully assembled containment pod, housing the first 28 racks
Pod 1
We’ve carried over our use of APC hardware for all racking and containment, which will mean a familiar service presentation for clients with services in London Central, and elsewhere in our partner sites
Pod 1
A look at the contact-free entry and exit sensors for the shared Pod 1 colocation space, which can be opened even with hands full with equipment
Pod 1
Another view down the length of Pod 1 – you can just make out our custom rack unit blanks in the top quarter rack, which have our logomark on them

As we hope is self-evident, the visual and functional change on-site has been noteworthy, to say the least.

Big advances have been made in containment, which helps move the project along in many areas. Our fire contractors are now able to bring all systems together, and complete the VESDA and extinguishant panel integrations with the main building system.

Having Pod 1 reach point of completion from an assembly perspective is also a major project milestone, and gives a tangible focus point for any tours of the site ahead of it opening.

What’s next?

Next week we will reach 12 months on-site at NLE, although due to COVID-19 restrictions early on, we’re probably more like 9 months of true work into the project.

The next set of louvres will be installed in the next week or so, along with further works on various open projects. This all falls alongside larger project work, which will see broader stroke progress as the build continues towards full onlining in the next few months.

Your complete guide to understanding data centre tiers

The concept of a data centre may seem simple at first glance. After all, it’s effectively just a warehouse with stacks and stacks of humming, immobile servers. However, those servers may hold critical data and operate critical systems for your company, or the companies you rely on everyday. Are you well-enough prepared for a power outage or equipment failure?

Any expanding business needs to be aware of the challenges that come with choosing the right data centre for your needs. Luckily, there are universal data centre standards that allow you to evaluate the right level of security and stability for your company.

What are data centre tiers and how can your choice of data centre affect your business? Read on to discover the data centre tier ratings explained. You’ll find out what differentiates a simple warehouse from a high-tech facility, and how you can choose the best data centre for your business needs.

Data centre classification

Data centre classifications are consistent and regulated worldwide thanks to the standards created by the Uptime Institute in the mid-1990s. The institute is a neutral third party that inspects data centres and places them into one of four tiers of quality and reliability.

Standard data centre tiers

Tier differences are generally determined by two factors. The first is the ability to stay up and running even through repairs and necessary maintenance. The second is redundancy. This refers to the ability to continue functioning even if a necessary resource such as power or cooling were to fail. 

Tier 1 data centres

A Tier 1 data centre is the most basic level of data centre, essentially a warehouse with small-scale supporting infrastructure. This infrastructure must include:

  • An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) which instantly transfers the power supply to a stored battery. This protects against outages or spikes, but not for extended periods of time.
  • Dedicated equipment for cooling the machines.
  • A backup generator for longer periods of power outage.

Tier 1 data centres are simple and can be more vulnerable to unexpected outages or failures. They also have to periodically shut down completely for maintenance, making systems held there inaccessible during this time.

To certify for Tier 1 status, a data centre must have no more than 28.8 hours of downtime per year (99.7% uptime).

That may not seem like much, but for many businesses, it is crucial that their data is available at all times. If you have ever tried to navigate to a website and found it to be down for scheduled maintenance you will recognise first-hand just how frustrating those 28 hours can be.

Tier 2 data centres

Tier 2 data centres are the most common type of data centre worldwide. Most private enterprise data centres held within offices in the UK fall under tier 2.

Tier 2 data centres are facilities with greater ‘redundant capacity’. This refers to their ability to keep functioning through disruptions such as power outages or scheduled maintenance. In addition to backup generators and cooling systems, tier 2 centres can include:

  • Energy storage units such as batteries.
  • Additional cooling equipment such as cooling towers and condensers.
  • Modular components which can be removed without shutting the entire system down.

Tier 2 centres are less likely to have to shut down for maintenance. Rather, maintenance can be done on just one part of the system, while the rest continues to run. However, shutdowns may occasionally be necessary for critical infrastructure support.

Tier 3 data centres

Tier 3 data centres are likely to be the highest level of data centre most businesses will ever need. Tier 3 data centre uptime can reach 100%. Many tier 3 sites do not need to ever be shut down.

A tier 3 data centre also requires additional backup power and cooling systems compared to a tier 2 centre. Tier 3 data centres in the UK are protected from both planned maintenance and shutdowns and unexpected events such as power outages.

Tier 3 sites are best suited to businesses that take uptime seriously, and need to know that their redundant systems are fed by infrastructure that makes full and proper use of this, with power and network separation for an always-on approach to maintenance and faults.

Tier 4 data centres

While the concept of a tier 4 data centre is possible in some regions around the world, this is not actually possible in the UK, thanks to the National Grid. You need access to two electrical grid operators to meet the tier 4 requirement, which can only be achieved in areas that have access to this type of power delivery methodology (while also achieving all other requirements, of course).

Some UK-based facility operators will attempt to pass of a tier 3+ site (a tier 3 site with systems that exceed the tier 3 requirements) as a tier 4 site, however it is worth remembering that this is nothing more than misleading marketing.

In truth, a tier 4 site adds little-to-no operational advantage over a tier 3 counterpart, as having reliable generator infrastructure negates the need for diverse commercial grid access.

Multi-tier data centres

Multi tier data centres have become more common in the past ten years. This refers to data centres that support mixed levels of tier classification. 

For example, the most critical systems may make up only 10-15% of a company’s needs. These can be protected with tier 3 or 4 level standards, while other systems which are less critical to overall upkeep can be protected with less rigorous standards.

This reduces expenses on the company’s part and allows data centres to be more agile and versatile in the companies they serve.

It’s very common for top colocation service operators to deploy facilities that existing somewhere between tier 3 and tier 4, often being referred to as tier 3+ (though this is not an official classification offered by the Uptime Institute).

Choosing a data centre for your business

Data centres choose to invest in tier certification. They hire representatives from the Uptime Institute to evaluate their centre and give it an official classification.

So, if you see a data centre company has a tier rating, you can trust that they have taken every step to ensure that their capabilities can be trusted. Data centre tiers are a sign of trust between the centres, their clients, and a neutral third party.

Our data centres in Central and East London are world-class facilities with a number of accreditations and certifications. Contact us today and we will help you determine the right level of security for your needs.

How to choose the best server colocation in London

The colocation data centre market is worth over $54.8 billion. It continues to grow thanks to an increasing global reliance on technology and the related need to increase the scale of IT services in general.

Managing technology requires time, money, and effort, especially when businesses attempt to create solutions in-house. Server colocation allows you to share space with other tenants in a centralised location, which is remote from your office(s). Professionals manage the equipment and network for you, keeping it safe and providing the right environment.

What is server colocation?

Server colocation allows you to share data centre space in a centralised, remote location. It provide businesses with space to install necessary IT equipment while also preventing operation or technical limitations and allowing you to control costs, support, uptime, and security.

What a colocation data enter does

colocation centre is a physical location that stores data and IT infrastructure on behalf of businesses, and in some rarer cases, individuals. Services include power, cooling, physical security, network connectivity, and resiliency. 

These centres offer different types of services as well, allowing you to customize your size and power usage based on your needs.


Wholesale colocation is best for large corporations and service providers. Your space is separate from other tenants, which increases security. Space is sold in square feet or based on total available power, and your price depends on your power and space requirements.

Retail colocation is best for start-ups and SMEs. It provides a turnkey solution that allows you to get set up quickly by providing racks, power, PDUs, network connectivity, and IP addressing. Businesses lease space and receive power at a threshold. Your fees are based on your space allocation and power / network consumption.

Space can be sold in rack units, abbreviated as U. It measures the thickness of each server at 1.75″.

1, 2, or 4 unit colocation is abbreviated as 1U/2U/4U. It involves purchasing individual unit allocations but can be upgraded to include more space. 1U is small and considered entry-stage. The others are somewhat larger, but major businesses may require quarter, half, or full racks for housing more substantial systems.

Quarter rack location offers 10U of colocation space. Everything is stored in a private, locked cabinet. It’s a great option for small businesses and start-ups.

Half rack location is a mid-range option that offers 20U of colocation space and power feeds of 2-8 amps at 240v. It costs £299.00 – £479.00 per month. Lockable, segregated racks provide extra security. There are multiple connectivity options to fit your needs.

Full rack colocation provides a full rack or 42U of cabinet space. It offers more available power and is best for companies with larger IT systems. Multiple racks then allow these systems to be extended, with no upper limit on how many racks can be deployed as part of a single (or even split) system.

Benefits of server colocation

Businesses that aren’t using server colocation create in-house facilities instead. They provide more internal access and control but are complicated and expensive to set up, increase hiring costs, and can decrease uptime.

Colocation centres have several benefits. They increase efficiency, decrease energy consumption, are flexible and scalable, increase security, decrease downtime, and help you manage your budget more closely.

Colocation centres consider both network and physical security. They create several layers of security and threat detection to protect your network. They also monitor the location itself using CCTV and 24×7 on-site personnel.

Colocation centres offer predictable operational expenses. They offer regular fees for rack units, power, and bandwidth. Additional consulting or hardware resources may be part of your service fee or cost extra. Once you know these costs, you can find the total and work it into your budget.

A colocation centre should also be clear about what you don’t have to pay for. They can save you money in several areas, including hiring, power, and heating and cooling costs. 

Server colocation is also a way to ensure you don’t lose profits from IT services that aren’t working like you need them to. The true cost of IT downtime depends on several factors, including the duration of the outage and the number of people impacted. It costs businesses an average of approximately $5,600.00 per minute and $140,000.00 – $540,000.00 per hour.

These are only some of the benefits of server colocation. As long as you choose the right provider, you could experience even more positive changes by placing your IT equipment in the hands of professionals.

Choosing server colocation

There are over 4,740 server colocation centres throughout the world, including at least 273 in the United Kingdom. Choosing the right one from this range of options is easier when you know what to look for. Consider factors such as space, power, connectivity, security, support, and price.

Determine how much space you need by looking at your power and infrastructure requirements now and in the future.

There are several ways to ensure you get the best price. Avoid bargain discount rates because they generally indicate poor service. Look at the prices of other server colocation centres in the area. Get referrals online or from trusted friends and family. Choose the best fee structure for you, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, annually, or hourly. Consider if you need to purchase or lease equipment.

There are also some questions to ask before choosing a server colocation centre. Learn more about their:

  • Security measures
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Data capacity limits
  • Support team

You can also look online to check the provider’s reputation. Look for their uptime and security records and check their certifications and history of audit compliance.

The typical server colocation contract lasts 1 – 3 years. Be sure you’ve chosen the best provider before signing anything.

Finding the best server colocation provider

Server colocation is one of the newest and most effective alternatives to in-house IT centres. It connects you with professionals to ensure your systems are secure and stay online.

Choosing the right colocation centre is a matter of considering your current needs and how your business will grow in the future. Find an affordable, scalable option that will adapt to your changing IT structure.

Netwise provides colocation services you can trust. Contact us today to find the right solution for you.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 47 and 48

We have another two weeks in the books on-site at London East, as things continue to develop as we head towards energisation.

The last couple of weeks have seen a good amount of change across a number of areas, including dramatic visual changes in Data Hall 1, and to the generator canopies.

Weekly overview

The containment system in Data Hall 1 has now been partially assembled, scheduled for completion next week. Most importantly, the two pod entry / exit doors have been installed, and had their electric opening and closing mechanisms setup.

Here we see one of the pod entry and exit doors partially assembled, with the cabling strung out for testing
This angle is from inside the pod, looking towards the front of the room, as the containment roof panels begin to find their place atop the rows of cabinets
A look at the rear of the racks, as the system continues to be assembled, including baying, roofing, cable trough installation etc
This view is of the second pod entry and exit door, found at the rear of the hall, as it is assembled
The front-side pod access door now fully assembled – it will receive vinyl signage similar to that found at London Central later in the project
The speed gates for access to the technical spaces at London East are now fully integrated and assembled, pending their walk plates (as seem temporarily placed here) and carpeting
The first round of panel mountings have begun, with the fire alarm / extinguishant panel and cooling system control and status screen for Data Hall 1 shown here
A closer look at the fire system panels, which are now in place for all data halls and LV rooms
A closer look at the Weinview screen panel, which will show cooling status and master controls for Data Hall 1
The data halls and LV rooms at East have latest-generation VESDA-E units installed, pending air sample pipe work installation shortly – the data hall models, as seen here, are the full visual output models
Here we see the VESDA-E units as mounted in the LV rooms
The generator canopies have now been refinished in the same anthracite grey as found across this new site, pending ID vinyls in due course
The generators, alongside being fully commissioned from an electrical connection and control standpoint, will also have a final clearcoat applied in the next few weeks, and some removable security access panels fitting in the gaps between them (effectively zoning them off from the compound)
These are the extraction cowls destined for installation on the roof, over the top of the rear cold corridors
These are the various components that will make up the intake louvres, destined for installation on the rear face of the building, allowing our evaporative cooling plant to intake external air, through our forthcoming bag filter wall

The containment pods are extremely impressive in person, and will provide a dominant focal point for the first hall. The contact-free entry system, which makes use of a proximity sensor, is particularly impressive to see and use.

The walls – as seen above – have begun to see more tech installed upon them, in the form of various panel boards for various systems. These will have their feeds installed as the main electrical works are underway. In particular, the newest generation VESDA-E panels are very striking, and work much better with the colour pallet at East (compared to their previous generation white / white and green panels). It’s the little details that we really love, and which come together in making a truly beautiful facility.

We think that the refinished generator canopies are a real show-stopper. These sit in a rather dominant position in the front compound, and as such we wanted to ensure they remained in-keeping with the visual language of the site. They’ll be having their ID and branding vinyls applied soon, which again will add to their commanding presence.

The adjustments to the skin of the building are scheduled to begin in the coming two to three weeks, in line with the commissioning of the water supply and drainage to the evaporative coolers, which began this week.

What’s next?

The open set of works as seen above will be brought to a close, as the main electrical contractors begin. Works will continue across the board, most intently focusing on cooling and fire system works, which are now underway throughout the building.

Ralph Wall joins Netwise

We’re extremely excited to introduce you to the latest member of our ever-growing team. Meet Ralph Wall, our new Sales Manager.

Ralph Wall

Ralph has enjoyed a long and successful career in the data centre industry, heading up the sales function at a number of very notable organisations within the sector over the years. His wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts are second-to-none, and will be a much-welcomed addition to the in-house skill set at Netwise.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic delayed the official announcement of Ralph’s joining, having actually started with us back in mid-January. We’re now very pleased to be able to fully announce Ralph’s new position with us, and we’re looking forward to seeing the improvements he will bring to the table as we enter another new phase in our development cycle.

It’s no secret that Ralph’s addition to the team comes at a time of major growth and investment for Netwise, with the forthcoming launch of our brand new London East data centre later this year. He will be overseeing the growth and development side of the business as we launch London East, and continue to welcome new clients (and service existing client growth) at London Central.

This new level of representation couldn’t have come at a better time for us, as we enter the end-out phase of construction on what will be our biggest and highest specification data centre to date; the third in our build history. Hard hat tours of the new site will begin shortly, and will be orchestrated by Ralph and the engineering team at Netwise. You can check out our Build Blog here to keep tabs on progress.

You can expect to meet Ralph at our forthcoming launch event(s) later this year, and at all of our social events, once they’re allowed to resume without restriction, of course.

We can’t wait for you to meet Ralph, and he’s certainly excited to meet you too. Get in touch if you’re interested in speaking, or to organise a tour of our facilities.