Data Hall 1 reaches full fit-out at London Central

This quarter, we’ve taken Data Hall 1 at our London Central data centre to 100% available capacity, to service the continued growth of existing customers, and the welcoming of new businesses to our much-lauded Bermondsey facility.

Data Hall 1 has been designed for a modular fit-out, with containment pods coming online as required. We launched our London Central site back in early 2016 with two containment pods, to hold existing clients (from our decommissioned London South facility) along with adequate headroom for further growth that year.

We’ve now onlined all five containment pods, taking the hall to its final fit-out state of 126 available enclosures.

Taking the facility up to this level of operation has also required the deployment of an additional backup generator, which maintains our power redundancy level at this newly elevated capacity.

This is a notable milestone for Netwise, as we continue to develop our operation and service set. This milestone also brings with it further considerations for the next step in our growth journey, as we develop plans for how Netwise will evolve in the coming years.


So what’s next?

Plans are now well underway with regards to how the next step(s) will be implemented, and what new capabilities that will bring to the Netwise portfolio.

If there’s one thing we’re well known for above all else, it’s the design and build of bespoke data centre facilities, which will be front and centre of our next move.

While details are not yet being made fully public, we can say that developmental plans for the next facility are now fully in effect. As these plans develop, we will be releasing further information to our stakeholders.

We’re electing to place focus on a second data centre ahead of a second on-site data hall at the London Central site. There are a wide range of operational reasons for doing this, which primarily centre around the increase in overall capability afforded to us by opening a second private facility, considerations which sit ahead of further expansion at London Central.


Data Hall 2 at London Central

We still have a large ground floor space ready for conversion into Data Hall 2 at our London Central facility, which has scope for a further three full-sized containment pods, assuming the same design is implemented.

This would allow for the deployment of up to 90 additional enclosures on-site at our London Central facility, taking the building to its designed capacity of 216 segregated enclosures.

As part of this, building-wide power capacity would be upgraded, discussions for which are already underway with our utility partners.

By focusing on our second facility ahead of further London Central expansion, we will enable self-contained, on-net multi-site services without any reliance on partner facilities for the first time, something we’re very excited about.


Want to know more?

We’d welcome the chance to show interested parties around the space remaining in Data Hall 1, along with scope plans for Data Hall 2.

Likewise, we’re also in early discussions with a range of key anchor tenants for our second facility – if you’d like to join this discussion, please do get in touch and we’d be happy to speak with you in more detail about the exciting things on the horizon here at Netwise.

GitHub Education partnership

In a landmark arrangement which brings a data centre operator into the fold for the very first time, Netwise has partnered with GitHub Education to bring enterprise-grade colocation services to the famous GitHub Student Developer Pack for the very first time.

The GitHub Student Developer Pack brings together some of the world’s foremost service operators, across a wide and varied range of technology sectors, including Digital Ocean, Microsoft Azure, Stripe and AWS.

We now join these titans of industry, representing a service set otherwise missing from the Pack until now.

While the number of students with their own physical server hardware may be limited, none-the-less there are many in full-time education that do elect to operate their own hardware (whether out of desire or project necessity), and until now they’ve have had no real means of operating this hardware in a suitable environment.

No longer is there any need for a student to run a server in their dorm room, or at home, making lots of noise, generating lots of heat, and costing a fortune in (highly unreliable) power.

Members can visit our special students landing page via the Pack, and self-verify for eligibility. From there, and for the first time ever, Pack-enrolled student developers can make use of world-class server colocation services free for a year, placing their own server into one of London’s leading data centre facilities.


Why we wanted to be a part of the Pack

This partnership has been something we’ve been working towards for some time, with both parties first engaging on the matter back in early 2017.

As many close to Netwise will already know, the earliest iteration of the business as it stands today started life while Matthew and Matt were still in high school; 15 years old at the time, in the summer of 2005.

While Netwise the organisation wouldn’t come to fruition for another four years (we incorporated in 2009), those early years were vital in developing our hands-on experience with server and network hardware.

So, where did we house our first system, comprised of 12 servers and a range of connectivity kit? Out of pure necessity, this lived in the loft / attic of Matthew’s parents’ house. Far from ideal, but aside from paying for third party data centre space on a near zero budget at the time, there were almost no other options available. Creativity was the order of the day, which helped shape our direction as a facility operator, but it still hindered our progress early on.

If only we’d had access to an offer like this back then! We truly hope that we are able to inspire the next generation of tech-focused developers and entrepreneurs with this free taste of top-level data centre services.


Educating students

This isn’t just an exercise in working exclusively with students that qualify, as we realise this is a very limited pool.

We want to help educate the masses, many of whom may well be unfamiliar with the physical side of the internet and how systems are deployed around the world.

Many of the younger generation now focus more completely on cloud services and XaaS options, but that isn’t always suitable for all use cases. Experience with data centres and the services they offer is much harder to come by, so we hope this helps close off that gap for students interested in this approach.

We’ve already had some great discussions with eager students about how colocation services work, deeper chats about power consumption and how this is calculated, and other interesting conversations that we hope have helped even non-qualifying students learn a little more about how this industry operates.


GitHub at Netwise

We’ve used git in our own internal development projects for years, with GitHub as our repository platform of choice, so coming together more closely with an organisation and web app that we’ve grown close to in real-world terms has been fantastic.

Our own websites and web apps have all be deployed through our automated GitHub / DeployHQ workflow, which has naturally proved invaluable to us as we scale up operations and involve more developers in our projects.

It’ll be fantastic to see student developers deploy staging and production code to their own physical server, housed in our facility.


Getting involved

If you are a GitHub Student Developer Pack member, check your Pack for details on how to get hold of this service.

If you’re not a Pack member yet, but you’re in full-time education and want to apply, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and apply, as this year, the Pack contains free or discounted services with a whopping $45,000!

Rebranding to Netwise

As we head towards our 10th birthday this December, we’ve drastically changed the way we look, both to celebrate 10 years in business, and also to reimagine our brand for the next 10 years of doing what we love.

It’s fair to say that over the last 10 years, we’ve changed a lot. The earliest iteration of what would eventually become Netwise actually started life way back in 2005, in the loft of Matthew’s parents’ house, which had been converted to house a small collection of IBM tower servers. Over the next few years, this would lead into the beginnings of Netwise Hosting, which incorporated in 2009.

The early days, while always coloured with the build and ownership of private infrastructure, focused on almost entirely on enterprise dedicated servers, with a side-focus on small-scale per unit colocation for clients with their own hardware.

As the business quickly developed, and the move to building the company’s first private data centre came to the fore in 2011, Netwise would very rapidly move into the colocation space more completely.

Netwise is now a fully-featured turnkey colocation and connectivity specialist, operating from its flagship 11,000sq ft London Central data centre in Bermondsey – the second private facility built in-house by the Netwise team.


Our bold new look

Dropping the ‘hosting’ portion of our name is only the headline change here. Beyond this, the entire look and feel of our brand has been completely reimagined.

We’ve always been known for our signature orange, which we had front-and-centre for many years early on. This did then become more of an accent colour as we moved from London South to London Central, however it always formed a prominent part of our identity. Our longest-standing customers will likely remember our (extremely) orange data hall floor at the London South data centre!

The orange has now been muted slightly, and serves as the primary accent colour to our new headline shade, which is a purple-tinted grey.

This far better embodies the characteristics we’re known for, more now than ever before. These include quality, security, robustness and professionalism – with an injection of real personality, something our customers hold very dear to their relationships with us.

The design, both of the bold new corporate identity and exciting new website, comes courtesy of leading design studio Juice London. This process started many months ago, with plenty of on-site meetings here at the Netwise HQ to discuss the visual direction, delving deep into what Netwise is at its core, and how best to represent this publicly as we grow.

Juice also spent a huge amount of time completely rethinking the website, both for desktop and mobile users, with a deep-dive into UX and UI, giving users the cleanest possible experience when interacting with us online.

Visitors to the new site will also see that, as part of the new look, we’re now running almost exclusively with black and white photography (sometimes with a purple-grey overlay), which gives our facility a timeless robustness befitting of our current standing in the industry.

The new look is head and shoulders above our legacy design, and something that will serve us very well as we head into our second decade of doing what we enjoy most.


Let’s get technical

Let’s talk about the new website; a slightly deeper chat than normal, as we’re sure our more technical readers will appreciate the added information.

This was a ground-up rebuild, starting from scratch, using the Bootstrap (4) framework as a starting point, which gives the out-of-the-box responsive front-end goodness we needed for a speedy deployment. This, coupled with the comprehensive design plans we received from Juice London, allowed for the front-end to be built out very quickly.

The main front-end came together nicely across a two to three week period, running on the new domain which sat completely separate from the existing domain. This allowed us to quickly sketch out design adjustments and alterations for immediate testing, with our Git and auto-deployment working seamlessly in this test environment.

Once we had the front-end together, but lacking some of the more complex functionality required for the colocation calculator and status pages, we were able to bring our long-time collaborator and development wizard Josh, owner of software house Grizzlyware, in-house for a week of pre-deployment works.

Grizzlyware proved to be an invaluable partner in developing our new colocation calculator, which has again been built from the ground up, giving much improved functionality, accuracy, and intrinsic security.

For the final stages of development, we converted the site from a PHP-based, dynamic, server-side site to a completely flat, minified static site, built using Node.js / NPM and deployed in both staging and production versions. This has made the new site extremely fast to load, and relies less on server-side processing in delivering content to end users.

This also bolsters the security of our digital assets, given that the site is now built ahead of being pushed to production, without need for any intensive server-side processing ahead of content delivery.


Our future as Netwise

The future as Netwise looks as bright as ever, which matches our shiny new brand perfectly!

We’re entering into a period of rapid development and expansion; as we head into 2020, we’ll be firming up plans for our next major step, which will involve a second private, bespoke data centre.

To keep abreast of these developments as they happen, keep an eye on our new latest news section, which forms part of our new website.

How to decide between half and full rack colocation

You’ve decided that colocated services are the way forward for your business. You want a reliable data centre so you don’t have to worry about building, maintaining and updating a large computing facility. These rentable data centres take care of all the extra expenses and work with the kind of security that provides peace of mind.

However, you’ll need to analyse the pros and cons when deciding whether a full or half rack is the best solution for your business. Read on to learn more about these options so you can make the most informed decision.


What is Colocation? 

Colocation can be a difficult concept to describe if you’re new to it. Simply put, the term means that servers and other IT equipment from many different companies are ‘co-located’ within one data centre. 

Also referred to as a ‘colo,’ these data centre facilities rent out rack space to third parties. It’s a simple solution designed to assist businesses that don’t have enough resources to maintain their own data centre, but still need the benefits.

Some of the benefits include lower costs, fewer members of staff, easier scalability, and the ability to choose a data centre that’s near your users. Last but not least, because the contracts you sign last at least one year, your monthly expenses are extremely predictable.


Half rack colocation

Half racks offer 20U of colocation space – a perfect solution if your needs are on the smaller end of the spectrum. At 1.75”, a rack unit (or ‘U’) measures the thickness of a single unit server.

Because of the smaller size, most half rack options are less expensive than full rack options, typically ranging between £299.00 to £479.00 per month. They also include: 

  • Power feeds of 2 to 8 amps at 240v
  • Multiple connectivity options 
  • Lockable, segregated racks for extra security

This isn’t a good solution for your business if you’re planning on growing beyond 20U, as you’d need to migrate to a larger enclosure, or contract for another. Half racks don’t give you a lot of available room to add additional equipment, but if you don’t predict on adding more equipment, this can be the most efficient and cost-effective option for your business.


Full rack colocation

If you do planning on scaling your business and adding more equipment, full racks are generally the best option. The larger size allows you to store many more servers and network equipment. 

Like half rack options, full racks are lockable cabinets for extra security. They can only be accessed by IT professionals that are approved by your business.

Because of the extra cost, you don’t want to pay for space that you don’t need, so make sure that your business actually needs this extra room. However, you may want to consider private cages or suites if you anticipate lots of growth that will soon require multiple cabinets. 

Private cages give you a little extra flexibility, such as adding desks, keyboards, monitors, additional cooling elements and more room for network equipment.


Choosing your colocation service provider

There are many providers available for colocated services, and it can be overwhelming to decide who to go with. After all, this is a long term decision that will determine the safety and upkeep of your IT equipment. 

Besides software, hardware, and cost, here are some important aspects to consider:

Security

Ensure that the provider offers both logical and physical security. Logical security is more difficult to determine than physical security, so do your research, or talk to a provider’s customer service department for clarity. You also want features such as biometric or security card access, 24×7 on-site personnel, and the ability to mitigate DDoS attacks.

Carrier options

It’s important that the data centre has various connectivity options available, including a range of blended transit and off-net, direct connection options. The best will be able to provide a wealth of options to suit any budget and requirement. 

Contracts and SLA

Part of the contract should include an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that guarantees certain levels of service, such as uptime, throughput and the mean time between failures and recovery. Ensure that you compare SLAs with the providers you’re considering, and find the one that gives you the most security.

Privacy

Make sure that the colocation service provider you’re considering has the necessary technology, policies, and procedures in place to match your regulatory compliance requirements. For instance, if your data is being transferred to another country, determine the privacy laws there and if any would be violated. 

On-Site Monitoring and Managing 

It’s important to find a provider that provides a consistent temperature-controlled environment. However, that’s not all you need to ensure your equipment is working properly. 

It’s necessary to keep track of the on-site security measures, cooling performance, power conditioning and the general operation of your equipment. You can do this yourself by travelling to the data centre on a regular basis. Another option is to determine if your provider also offers managed services. 

Moreover, environmental probes, rack monitors and power management software can help you monitor the health of your equipment even when you’re not at the location.

The My Netwise customer control panel provides most of this data to end clients as standard, meaning less of this responsibility is placed on the service user.


Colocated services for your business

As you can see, choosing a half rack versus a full rack service is all about your infrastructure needs in the moment. You also need to take into account your anticipated growth.

Geographic flexibility and the ability to travel to your colocation provider is important. It’s also recommended to shop around to find the best deals, SLAs, and features for your area.

Now that you know which option is best for your business, contact Netwise today. As one of the UK’s leading colocation service providers, we offer state of the art, highly resilient private facilities

Ready-to-deploy Cisco hardware

Those of you familiar with our London Central facility will likely be aware of our extensive in-house hardware stocks, which we keep on-site for rapid deployment within the data centre and beyond.

This has always included a wide range of hardware sets, such as base specification servers, power distribution hardware, and a large number of switches and routers.

One of three new bays in our warehouse

We’ve always exercised great effort in ensuring we hold adequate stocks to enable the rapid deployment and response times that we’ve become well known for.

Q1 2019 has seen us extend this on-site capability dramatically as we grow the procurement side of our operation in line with expansion and growth across the board.

We’ve become known as a ‘Cisco house’ here at Netwise, with our network operating entirely on enterprise-grade Cisco architecture, and as a result we’ve focused on this world-leading technology vendor as we’ve built out our on-site stock list.

We now hold over 250 different models, from basic access switches to high-end routing hardware and security devices. All items are fully tested and ready for immediate deployment.

The beauty of holding so much stock here at our London Central data centre is that we’re able to rapidly respond to the exacting requirements of our ever-growing client base, with instantaneous deployment within their racks. We’re also able to supply this hardware to customers all around the world at extremely competitive rates.

We are known for our unfaltering customer support, which covers every facet of a customers operational requirements. This has long included the supply and ongoing support of hardware as part of our colocation service set, so adding to this capability is an important step for us in our continued development and improvement plan.

Matthew Butt, Managing Director

Clients are able to directly request hardware stock lists and will receive first-refusal and the best rates on hardware held on-site.

We know the Cisco eco-system inside out, as part of our own network provision, so we have elected to stock this vendor first and foremost to enable the very best in our ongoing support capabilities.

Matt Seaton, Senior Manager

If you’d like to learn more about what we can supply to you, as part of a world-leading colocation service or otherwise, please do get in touch.