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.

What are data centre solutions?

Who do you trust to store your critical company data?

Gone are the days of businesses storing all their records on-site. Even self-contained computer systems can’t cope with today’s networking needs.

Enter the data centre.

Data centre solutions offer storage, collection, processing, and distributing huge volumes of data. The service runs 24/7 with ongoing support. Customers range from small businesses up to large enterprises.

It’s estimated that the number of internet users is to grow to 5.3 billion by 2023. Transferred data will climb to 3.3 zettabytes by 2021. Data centres lie at the very heart of this global communication infrastructure.

As new technologies emerge, like the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G, it’s essential to choose the right solution for your business.

This guide examines what to look for when hosting your data. How can you save money, increase productivity, and take advantage of ‘the cloud’?

Read on to find out more about data centres and how they can help your business.


What are data centres?

Simply put, a data centre offers a dedicated place to store your data.

Emails, customer files, reports, orders, and communications need to be saved somewhere safe. Traditionally this happened on-site at your business premises. A small server would be hooked into your local network and data simply flowed through it.

But what if you got bigger? What about larger firms needing remote access? What about physical and digital security? And who was going to manage it all?

New data centre technologies don’t have the limitations of old local area networks.

Data is centralised and distributed as required. A good facility is hooked directly into the backbone of the internet to offer high-speed access every second of every day. Your records are always accessible and kept secure from digital and physical attacks.


How does a data centre work?

Every data centre is comprised of similar core components, including:

  • Resilient power infrastructure (at least A+B)
  • Resilient network infrastructure
  • Efficient cooling systems
  • Highly secure rack space
  • 24×7 on-site technicians

Everything is housed in a secure, closely monitored environment. Data is routed in and out of the facility by carriers and ISPs, and processed on systems within the data centre. Security of the information is paramount, so system administrators and engineers are constantly monitoring the network and facility infrastructure.

Our London data centre is 11,000 square feet and has capacity for two-hundred racks. We are qualified Cisco specialists and offer a best-in-class 40/100GigE network.

The facility is deployed in a two data hall configuration. We use N+2 CREC cooling units to make sure client hardware is kept cool. Power is regulated through dedicated UPS infrastructure.


How can data centre solutions benefit my business?

Customer’s who have made the jump to data centres say the service is now critical to their business functions.

Here are some major benefits for you to consider:

  • Reduced operations costs – kit is looked after for you off-site
  • Dedicated support – on-call day and night
  • Colocation – rent dedicated space for your systems
  • Modern infrastructure – faster, more powerful technology
  • Fully protected – physical and digital security
  • Fewer overheads – no air conditioning and power bills on-site
  • High up-time – business systems keep going 24×7
  • Monitored data flow – resilient, high-speed internet connection
  • ISO 27001 – certified information security

Don’t just take our word for it. Check our client success stories to read how we helped benefit their businesses.


How to choose the right data centre

From server colocation to how to set up data centre security systems, what do you need to consider when choosing a provider?

Space

Data centres are sometimes called server farms because they host multiple computers. They are stacked into racks and the greater the square footage the greater the volume of servers.

Question what the size of the data centre is. How much to rent a rack? Are there discounts for renting extra space, on longer term agreements?

Power

Data centres use a huge amount of electricity every year. How is that generated? Is the energy renewable and green? 

Our flagship data centre in London relies on 100% renewable energy. We were awarded the Best Green Business by SLBA and are committed to reducing our carbon footprint.

Connectivity

Latency, or the delay in transferring data, impacts how your business applications work. The lower the delay, the faster your software can communicate with users, for example.

Connectivity includes speed and reliability. Has the data centre got a good track record delivering these? Do they offer specialised services such as P2P circuits and leased lines?

Security

Major security concerns include ransomware and DDoS, but not all threats are digital.

A good data centre also considers physical threats. With the increasing likelihood of an attack happening on a data centre’s premises, how effective is their security?

Support

Ticketing systems are the gateway to support requests. What is the average time to respond to a ticket? Will you be speaking to the same person on the next important call?

We have an average response time of just 2 minutes. Our network status page highlights any downtime and upcoming events.

Additional Services

Some industries require a specialist service. For example, companies storing chemical substance data must conform to the format of OECD and REACH.

We offer a dedicated IUCLID 6 hosting plan. Data remains private and scales on an enterprise-class platform.


House your data in a data centre today

The benefits of data centre solutions are clear.

Take full advantage of the latest technology for your business. Be it colocating your servers or buying a dedicated hosting plan, our facilities are purpose-built for you.

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements. If you live nearby feel free to come in for a cuppa and a tour.

We’ll put the kettle on!

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.

The 6 most important questions to ask about data centre services

Is colocation the right strategy for your business? Is it about time you moved your data to the cloud? Or maybe you’d like to move from one colocation provider to another? How do you know if a data centre service is the right choice for you? Technically, they all look the same, right?

Choosing the best data centre services provider is one of the most crucial decisions you may ever have to make for your business. Which begs the question, how do you find the best one? Well, to answer that question, you need to ask the data centre management team several questions during the vetting process.

Exceptional security is non-negotiable. You are entrusting the data centre service provider with valuable data and IT assets you cannot afford to lose. Don’t proceed unless you have suitable answers to these questions.

In this post, we are going to address six of the most critical questions you should ask.


1. What are your cooling, carrier, and power redundancies?

Power redundancy is vital when it comes to keeping a data centre up and running. Ask the data centre service provider about their power sources, where they’re fed from, how many commercial feeds they have; and most importantly, the redundancy of their UPSs. Data centre services need ample power not only to run client hardware, but also to cool the facility.

They must operate multiple backup generators to ensure availability at all times. Enquire about their connectivity options, which should also offer full redundancy of delivery to client deployments.


2. What level of protection do you have against natural disasters?

Regardless of the facility’s geographical location, there are always chances of natural disasters. Even if he facility survives a disaster, how long would the on-site generators continue to supply power?

Do they have emergency fuel suppliers? Understanding their contingency plans based on possible risks is vital. Knowing how they will inform you of the status of your systems following such disasters will help you decide if they are the facility operator of choice.


3. What level of uptime does their SLA provide?

When vetting data centre services, one of the most crucial questions you could possibly ask is how much downtime they expect to suffer. It could be devastating to lose access to your critical systems due to data centre downtime.

This could cost your business revenue, opportunities, and maybe even diminish your brands reputation. This is something you cannot afford. You’ll find 99.99% uptime SLAs in most data centres.


4. What security measures do you have in place?

Data centres nowadays feature top-of-the-line security features and access policies that protect the precious data entrusted to them by multiple businesses. Good security will always start at the perimeter, with the fencing and sensor surveillance, through to the data floors.

Aside from the layers of physical security they may offer, a data centre service needs to have logical security protocols in place that will restrict different people from accessing different areas. Companies with multi-factor authentication processes, such as biometric technology, work better in terms of protecting critical assets. They ensure only authorised personnel access certain areas of the facility.


5. Can the facility handle future growth?

Your business may have simple needs such as space, connectivity, and power at the moment, but what about your future requirements? You may need certain managed services, including cloud computing, replication, backup and archiving, managed SAN services, disaster recovery-as-a-service, among others.

Will the facility offer you such services? What about future power and space requirements?

Specify how much power you’ll be consuming and ensure they have room for more. You may be surprised later on to learn that you are limited to a certain circuit capacity, which may not be enough. Avoid placing your business in a position where you’ll need to start looking for another data centre once you experience growth.


6. How many data centres do you have and what are their locations?

This seems like a basic question, but it’s imperative. You see, you need to have a data centre that’s close enough for your frequent travels. Your technological requirements may need you to travel to the centre for maintenance, hardware and software upgrades, and server installations. A data centre close-by will certainly save you time and inconvenience.

It helps if the data centre operator has a national footprint, with facilities strategically located in different areas in case you need to branch your business. Having various centres in different locations is an assurance of redundancy. In the case of a natural disaster, you will be able to replicate your critical systems.


Bonus question: how do you handle temperature control?

Cooling innovations are important in data centres, more so as cabinet deployments increase. Enquire if the company uses cold and hot aisle containment, or whether they defuse hot air with cold. How do they manage the temperature in the facility? Do they have advanced predictive analytics and monitoring? Can they handle special cooling when the need arises?


Choose a professional data centre services company

With so many data centre options available, you may have an abundance of operators on your shortlist. However, you have to be careful about who you entrust your critical systems to. Besides all of these questions, ask about their transparency, staff qualifications, certifications, and attestations.

How often do they perform power switching tests for load performance? Do they provide 24x7x365 remote hands support? Answers to these questions will help you arrive at the right data centre service operator.

If you need state of the art colocation services, get in touch or check out our website.