Supernode core network upgrade

Just as quickly as the new year begins, investment continues in earnest as we roll out our brand new Supernode core network architecture, enabling enhanced 100Gbps+ capabilities across our metro network.

Our core node in Telehouse received the steroid treatment mid-March, upgrading to a much larger ASR chassis, providing further interconnection capacity as we maintain the steep upward growth trajectory of our network. Telehouse now functions as our first on-net Supernode, handling masses of fibre connections that mix in and out of our multi-site network.

You can take a look at a compressed time-lapse of the upgrade work being undertaken here:

Beyond the full node rework in Telehouse, all on-net nodes have received line card upgrades that enable the enhanced operational capabilities we require as we head steadfast into 2020.

Looking further ahead, we’re also adding a brand new core POP to our metro network in Q2 2020, which will be officially announced in a few weeks. This will further increase our on-net capabilities as we gear up for what will be the largest evolution in our service offering since launching the London Central data centre in 2016 – more on that very soon!

Does your business have a data disaster recovery plan? Here’s why it is necessary

Is your business ready to handle a data disaster? If all your electronic documents and information are lost, how will your business survive?

25% of small businesses in the UK don’t have a data disaster recovery plan in place. 80% of businesses that went through an IT disaster failed within 18 months of their data loss event.

Data is fragile. If your business doesn’t have an IT disaster recovery plan already in place, it’s time to create one.

Understanding a data disaster plan and why your business needs one is very important. Read this handy guide and you’ll have all the detail you need to start the process of creating and integrating a suitable plan. You’ll then be well-equipped to find and work with a data centre partner that serves the needs of your business to the highest possible standard.


What is a data disaster recovery plan?

To be clear, this article does not cover business continuity planning. A data disaster recovery plan sets out a business’s workflow in the event of a disaster that wipes out electronic data, documents, and information. Wider business continuity plans put in place the processes that ensure the physical business can continue should a disaster occur.

The term disaster covers a multitude of potential events. Anything from terrorism to extreme weather and more can be included in this term.

Business stakeholders and investors expect data disaster plans to be in place so that in the event of the worst-case scenario, the business will not succumb to that data loss.

There are many different types of DR plan that your business can implement. These include prevention, detection, and correction plans. The best IT disaster plans naturally include elements of all three.

The prevention element of a plan aims to stop a disaster happening in the first place. Proper data storage, backups, and power protection are all part of the preventative approach. Outsourcing your data storage to top-quality data centers is a smart way to engage in proper disaster prevention.

Detection of imminent threats to your data is also highly important in avoiding a devastating loss. Routine system inspections should form part of any solid data DR plan.

Correcting data loss is an internal business function and should form part of any good plan. Investing in insurance against data loss will allow your business to correct any damage more quickly and completely. You’ll also need all key internal stakeholders involved in the data protection and recovery process to be ready for immediate action in the event of a data disaster.

Understanding these core elements of an IT disaster recovery plan will mean you’re in a good place to integrate such a plan to your operation. Having that plan in place ahead of a disaster, rather than scrambling to create one in the aftermath, is the smartest IT-related move you can make for your business.


Why does your business need an IT disaster recovery plan?

The threat of data loss is very real. Whether the threat is natural, environmental, or human, there are more and more instances of data loss in the UK every year.

Environmental disasters are less common in the UK than in some parts of the world. Outside of flooding, there’s a very low chance of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado wiping out your premises. A less severe environmental issue, such as a fire, will be more likely.

But in the UK, the biggest threat to your data comes from hacking. 88% of UK businesses have been subject to a cyber attack in the past year.

Dealing with the cost of losing your data and your business being unable to function as a result is a primary driver for implementing a recovery plan. If you lose your data and your business is unable to fulfil its responsibilities to its clients, it has the potential to cost a lot of money. The downtime your business experiences during a data loss event can also be highly damaging to your organisation’s reputation.

Chances are, you employ humans. Humans are wonderful creatures. But humans are also fallible. Your business needs a way to recover lost data quickly, because it’s all too likely that human error will, at some point, cause your business to lose data in one way or another. You can’t eliminate the possibility of a mistake, but a good data disaster recovery plan will help your business get back on track far sooner.

Hardware, much like humans, also isn’t perfect. Even without a natural or environmental incident, there’s a chance your hardware will simply fail. If your systems go down and you don’t have a recovery plan in place, it’s going to get expensive. You’ll have to replace or repair your machines, and you’re not going to have the data and documents you need to do your work.


What steps should you take to ensure your business can survive a data loss event?

Plan ahead. That’s the most critical component here. And that’s the point of a data disaster recovery plan.

Find a reputable data center that can assist with DR as standard. Talk to them about how your business can create a plan that’ll work properly for you in the event of a disaster. There’s a decent chance that your organisation won’t have adequate data recovery expertise in-house. Don’t try to do everything on your own, because you’ll likely need specific expertise and experience to make a plan that will work across the board.

There are steps your business can take to reduce the impact of any data disaster, even if you don’t have a recovery plan in place at present. These steps work no matter the size of your business, but are especially important for smaller businesses without dedicated IT departments or third party services.

Make sure you know your data. Work out which files and directories are crucial to the survival of your business. Assess your documents closely; you can assign a priority and importance score to the data your business produces / uses.

At the very least, you should have some form of data backup. Ideally, this backup will be offsite, in the cloud. But if for some reason you’re unable to do that, there should be regular internal backup functionality built into your workflows.


Make sure your business is ready for the worst

A data disaster will, at some point, impact your business. It’s simply a reality most businesses will have to face. The level of impact will depend on the quality of your data disaster recovery plan.

Creating and implementing a plan should be top of your to-do list.

Contact us today to learn more about data recovery plans, and how we can help you reduce downtime, reduce risk, and make sure your business recovers strongly in the wake of a data loss event.

How to reap the benefits of colocation: finding the right solution for your business

The colocation market is set to see a 15.4 per cent growth rate from 2016 through to 2020. As a result, lot’s of companies are moving from in-house hosting solutions to an outsources approach involving data centres.

Why are so many companies making this change? Let’s take a look at the benefits of colocation / rack space, and how to choose the best data centre operator for your needs.


The benefits of colocation

Server colocation offers quite a few benefits over keeping your server infrastructure in-house. One of the most obvious of these benefits will be the associated cost savings.

If your server is on-site at your office (or even at home), it usually means you’ll need to install the infrastructure suitable for running high-uptime devices. This includes resilient cooling, network connectivity, power, and adequate physical security.

With a colocation service, the data centre handles these components for you, meaning you simply pay a fixed amount each month to make use of their enterprise-grade infrastructure. Because data centre operators provide colocation services to many companies, you’ll only need to pay a fraction of the total overhead.

Better support is another major benefit of working with a data centre. The colocation provider will have support staff on-site 24×7 to address any problems with your systems. Having your own staff on-hand around the clock would add enormous internal costs to your business.

Data centre operators also provide greater operational flexibility over keeping your systems in-house. There are a wide range of options available to clients, including various highly-resilient connectivity options. Offering a blended transit service ensures that individual carrier issues do not impact client services. This isn’t a viable investment for most companies when running a systems on-premises.

Scalability is another benefit that data centre hosting providers offer end-users. If your needs change and you need more bandwidth or power for your critical systems, you can scale up using the data centre’s existing infrastructure. Scaling up an in-house setup means fronting the extra cost of having these services installed, if they’re even available.


How to find the right colocation provider

There are several factors that you need to consider when choosing the most suitable colocation provider for your business, which include:

  • Power and sustainability
  • Scalability
  • Connectivity options
  • Compliance
  • Locations
  • Security and environmental controls

Power and sustainability

One of the biggest benefits of a server colocation service when compared with hosting your critical systems in-house is power efficiency. This can vary from one provider to another.

Look for a data centre that offers a sustainable energy supply. Netwise’s resilient power feeds run on 100% renewable energy from wind, sun, and sea.

Your colocated systems should also remain operational if there is ever a power interruption that affects the data centre’s primary (and even secondary) power supplies. Netwise uses an advanced diesel generator system with a 48-hour on-site fuel supply to ensure your systems remain operational and available even during a power interruption.

We also have multiple 24×7 refuelling contracts in case of an extended power interruption.

Scalability

The scalability of your system’s resources is another important factor to consider in choosing a data centre partner. This applies to both the system itself and the associated connectivity.

If your bandwidth needs increase, you need to be sure the data centre can increase your network resources to meet new demand. This may be a short-term increase for unexpected spikes in traffic, or it could be an ongoing permanent / semi-permanent elevation as your needs evolve.

Look for a data centre that works with several carriers. This allows for highly-resilient blended transit options as well as fallback connection options in case of an outage.

The data centre should also offer scalable connection types. As your needs increase, you can adjust your service delivery and composition accordingly.

Connectivity options

With a colocated system, connectivity is critical. If you’re not able to reach your servers over the network, your entire business could suffer.

The data centre operator you choose needs to have multiple levels of redundancy engineered into their core to ensure your systems remain accessible. Access to multiple carriers is one aspect of this, but they also need to ensure diverse, redundant path options across the board, from edge to core.

Make sure the data centre network supports the IP standard you’re using, both now and in the future. IPv4 is the older standard, but if you’ve switched to IPv6 addressing standard, the network will need to support it.

Connections to cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are also important if you utilise any of these services.

Compliance

If you do business in an industry with particular compliance regulations, such as financial services and healthcare, you need to ensure the data centre you choose is fully compliant with any applicable regulations.

A component of some of these regulations is the physical location of your data. In some cases, the data must be stored within the same country the regulations apply to. This often applies to systems in which you’re storing customer records.

You also need to ensure the data centre is Data Protection Act (DPA) compliant if you’re doing business in the UK, as well as GDPR-compliant for any EU organisation holding personal information.

Locations

The location of a data centre has a bearing on compliance, but it also affects other things, such as accessibility to your equipment and the physical safety of your systems.

Working with a data centre that’s located nearby ensures your IT staff have access to your systems for upgrades and other maintenance tasks.

The data centre’s location will also affect how susceptible it is to natural disasters, like earthquakes and major storms. These events can cause downtime and other problems, so choosing a location that’s less likely to be affected by them is always safest.

Security and environmental controls

The physical security and environmental control of the data centre are other factors that affect your overall system availability. Not to mention the safety of your critical data.

Look for a data centre with good physical security, such as 24×7 on-site security, live and historical CCTV monitoring with a long retention period, and access technologies like RFID and biometric access controls.

Cooling is a critical piece of the puzzle as well. Data centres hold large numbers of servers that create a lot of heat, so effective cooling is critical to keep your equipment up and running.


Why you should choose Netwise as your colocation service provider

Netwise has over a decade of experience providing best-in-class colocation solutions to clients all around the world. Our data centres offer all of the above benefits, along with many others.

If you’re looking for a UK-based data centre for colocation or need dedicated server resources to expand your existing systems, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.

Trends to watch for in colocation services in 2020

Jules Verne was right about so many things.

After all, the concept of nearly unlimited computer systems holding the full store of human knowledge is practically a reality. Experts estimate data storage totalling 175 zettabytes by 2025.  

The Jules Verne visions of the modern era viewed through a 19th Century lens look very different from the actual article. The submarine, for instance, is much less a luxurious masterpiece than a precisely engineered marvel. 

The same can be said of data centres. Colocation services mean that the clunky,  out-of-date in-house comms room is replaced with efficient, modern and cost-effective data centre solutions.


Trends in colocation services

Maintaining on-premise space for IT equipment instead of people is a choice many businesses are weighing up. The cost of commercial space in pricey Mayfair in London, for example, is £115 GBP per square foot. Would you rather have that space occupied by your valuable sales force, or your computer systems?

Even though the trend for server size moves ever smaller, many companies find it more cost-effective to house their servers in a purpose-built space. However, why maintain that space in-house? Much like companies rent office space rather than building and maintaining a facility of their own, colocation services fill the same need.


Old school data centres to colocation

Building and maintaining a server farm is a daunting process. Computer processing equipment used to take up entire rooms and require countless dedicated operators. That slowly changed a single large room of equipment. Now, what used to take dozens of operators and acres of space is contained within just a few racks.

Refurbishment of space and infrastructure can prove costly. Many companies have elected to give up their old in-house data centres. The associated capital expenditures of building, maintaining and updating an in-house data centre rarely pencil out.

Colocation services provide the building, cooling, power, bandwidth and physical security; the perfect environment for clients to house their own servers and storage equipment.


Not everything is in the cloud

Ongoing data breaches and scandals mean that many companies try to avoid cloud solutions for some core proprietary functions. Control over their own servers and data is a growing primary concern. Colocation is the ideal solution to this concern.

Many enterprise management software platforms base themselves on and around critical network architecture. A cloud-based service simply doesn’t work well to this end. For companies with highly customised software, maintaining a proprietary network makes sense.

Companies making the transition to cloud-based services may find that colocation is an important step in the transition, and forms the basis for any fixed workloads in a hybrid solution for the future.


Hybrid cloud

Getting services closer to the end-user is a goal for many IT professionals. Cloud services offer great mobility and access, but do not protect company data as effectively as hardware under direct company control. Apps and tools to make this bridge simpler are part of any modern, agile colocation service.

A mixed approach to infrastructure is often the answer.  User automation, micro-services, APIs, easy software-based provisioning; with these elements in mind, the ongoing management of the various different infrastructure types into a seamless whole is the challenge.

The right provider can offer services that let a company’s IT department create dynamic, hybrid solutions; fixed workloads in colocation interconnected with flexible workloads and content delivery networks in the cloud.


Carrier readiness

5G mobile networking is an estimated 100x faster than existing 4G networks. Telecom providers turned London on in 2019, and other cities are expected to have full 5G service in a short time. User-facing service providers need to be ready for the rapid changeover, bringing with it much-increased demands on data, enabled by faster download speeds.

Colocation services offer superior network connections in many different ways, offering a blend of different carriers. More than one carrier is always recommended for redundancy and reliability.


Prepared for growth, prepared for disaster

Unlike self-maintained and owned data centres, outsourced colocation means that changes or interruptions to business are quickly recoverable. Colocation services offer:

  • Redundant network connections – business-critical applications run around the clock
  • Redundant power –  a combination of the power grid, backup generators, and battery backup systems protect against service interruptions
  • Room for growth – colocation allows for infrastructure expansion without having to take on additional capital expenditure
  • 24x7x365 support on-site – experienced technical personnel are on-site for emergency and routine maintenance

Our London Central data centre also offers a fully serviced, 33 desk business continuity suite inside our 11,000 square foot facility. The central London location takes advantage of well-developed telecom network access and proximity to many major companies / operators.


Is colocation right for your company?

Trends in colocation services indicate a need for companies to save operating costs as well as protect against business interruptions. Colocation is also an effective way to expand workloads without expanding footprints in existing office facilities.

Colocation will usually provide significant savings in the management of critical IT infrastructure. The day-to-day operational care of the servers, power and cooling will be outsourced to a specialist operator. Colocation services will almost always provide improved resilience over in-house operations. 

Companies that have great variability or seasonality in their data resource utilisation may find colocation solutions useful. Spikes in usage are absorbed by the whole, often at a lower cost.

Colocation services offer a combination of flexibility, cost savings, and reliability.


How can Netwise help?

Netwise provides global-level colocation services in private facilities. Our bespoke tools, built entirely-in-house, provide both large and small users alike with the reliability and up-time they need for faultless technical operations, around the clock.

Netwise offers:

  • Superior London and European locations
  • 100% renewable energy
  • Sustainable and eco-friendly cooling systems
  • Fully-stocked build rooms
  • 33 desk workplace recovery suite
  • Leading SLA
  • 10+ years track record

Contact us today to discuss your critical IT infrastructure needs.

Generator system expansion

As part of the recent expansion and capacity upgrade project at our London Central data centre, we have deployed another backup diesel generator, which joins the existing sets already providing protection to our clients.

This ensures our N+1 resilience level on backup power is maintained as we continue to introduce new customers into the data centre, and provide ongoing scalable growth to those already with us.

The new set – while outputting the same level of power as its existing counterparts – is a next generation unit that we’ve had presented in an inverse colourway; anthracite grey. This stands in contrast to the existing units, which are in an off-white colourway. Of the three sets which now make up the full system, it is the smallest, quietest, and sleekest looking unit, perfect for demonstrating where we’ve made tangible upgrades to our critical infrastructure.

As part of this new deployment, we’ve adjusted how the setup works as a homogeneous system, with regards to the operational logic for running three sets in an N+1 fail-over scenario.

The new generator is actually now Set 1, with the existing units becoming Sets 2 and 3. This allows the newest set to become the primary unit in this multi-generator system.


How our generator system works

We’re not doing anything particularly ‘special’ when it comes to mixing in our backup generator sets, however in the interest of total transparency, we thought it of interest to explain exactly how this system works in real-world scenarios.

We have enough backup generator capacity on-site to cover full load in the facility on two sets, reserving one as a swing set. This can be called into service should one fail during emergency operation, hence giving us our N+1 resilience.

There are two main invocation scenarios in a facility with A+B mains power systems, which are:

  • A single side power failure, either A or B (the most common)
  • A full blackout of both A and B (less common)

The computer systems that control our generator logic (both inside the generators and as part of our Automatic Transfer Switches) handle each case slightly differently, depending on what has happened.


A single side power failure

As expected with any mains power issue, our UPS systems take load immediately to ensure faultless operation while the generators are instructed to start up. We have a minimum run-time on our UPS’s of 10 minutes, though most have more than 20 minutes in reality.

All generators as part of our system are kept on hot-standby, with all oils and pumps kept warm ready for the immediate firing of engines. In this state, the generators are known as ‘At Rest’, and available for service.

During a single side failure, two of the three generators will be instructed to fire, which will then startup, self-test, and synchronise with the sister unit.

If for any reason one unit fails to sync, the remaining swing set will be called up and take over, placing the other into a cool-down state.

Once online and synchronised, which takes around 60 seconds, the ATS’s will switch through the load, allowing the generators to take over from the inline UPS’s.

If the load is at below 60% of a single unit’s capacity, the system will then allow for the load to be taken up by a single generator, placing two units back into the swing pool, to be invoked again if required.

We’re then running on generator for as long as required, with 48 hours of fuel on-site, and refuelling contracts with two separate entities for refuelling within 2 hours.

Once the mains feed is seen to be restored by the system, it will hold on generator for another three minutes to ensure stability, before automatically switching back to the mains feed for load.

The online generators then enter into a three minute cool-down cycle, before dropping back into their ‘At Rest’ state, ready to be called up again if required.


A full blackout of both A and B

Although this is a less common real-world scenario, it is one of our test simulations, and invokes the generators in a slightly different manner.

Should this occur, most actions as above remain the same, however in this case, all three generators would fire as part of stage one, rather than just two.

They will then test and sync together, and again have a set fall away to become the swing unit once the system is spun up and ready to take load.

In this way, the backup system is always able to both take load, and provide a swing set for resilience should there be an issue with a unit during emergency operation.

The entire system enjoys a rigorous testing schedule, which is incredibly important for a backup power system. Sets are test fired every two weeks and allowed to run warm for five minutes, checking for any running issues. We also complete on-load tests every month, to ensure the sets can take full load; an important step missed by many facility operators.

The system is also fully maintained by Shenton Group, the organisation responsible for the build, supply and initial testing, ensuring our units are in tip-top operational condition year-round.


What’s next?

That’s not the only upgrade coming as part of our backup generator system. The investment in this critical area continues in Q4, as we introduce a brand new mixing enclosure in our Electrical Intake Room, which will improve and update what is in place at present, finalising developments in this area in the mid-long term.

The new internal enclosure will allow for the use of next generator smart rotary breakers, something not presently in service as part of the current enclosure panel.