Graham Cornell joins Netwise

We’re very excited to introduce you to the latest member of the growing Netwise team. Meet Graham Cornell, our new Technical Manager.

Graham has actually been working with us for some time now, forming part of our Technical Support team (namely our Data Centre Supervisor). Any regular visitors to our London Central data centre will have very likely had the pleasure of meeting Graham at some point in time.

Graham has a long history working in the data centre industry, having spent 6 years with Pulsant, and formerly holding a position with Telecity in the early years of their development cycle.

Graham’s promotion to Technical Manager comes as Netwise enters the next phase of its growth journey, making this role extremely important to the ongoing operational success of the organisation as upper managerial focus shifts to the next chapter in our development cycle.

Graham will oversee the technical operation of our facilities, working closely with Alex, our Facilities Manager, to keep client-facing services and internal infrastructure operating flawlessly around the clock. This will also extend to project work, developing new innovative systems and technologies to aid future growth.

A look back at 2019

As should always be the case for any growing enterprise, this year has unquestionably been our most successful to date. Here’s a look back at the year gone by; 2019 at Netwise.

Investment continued unabated this year, in line with our steadfast approach to ongoing improvement across all aspects of the organisation. This includes works in both customer and non-customer facing areas, to ensure our London Central facility remains the premier choice for world-class colocation services in the capital.

We’ve also seen the greatest level of growth we’ve ever experienced in the on-boarding of new client projects, across both new entrants to our facilities and network, alongside the impressive continued growth enjoyed by our existing customers.

Notable projects from 2019 include:

  • Deployment of Pods 4 & 5 – we took Data Hall 1 to 100% available capacity this year, with all five containment pods now online and servicing an exciting range of new and existing customers.
  • Generator system expansion – in-line with growth experienced in our technical spaces this year, we undertook a major upgrade of our backup generator systems to ensure we maintain power delivery resilience as we continue to fill out our London Central facility.
  • We rebranded – in the summer, we rebranded, dropping the ‘Hosting’ portion of our name and drastically evolving the look and feel of our organisation, to better suit our current position in the market.
  • We turned 10! – this December, Netwise officially turned 10 years old, having incorporated in 2009. We celebrated in style at Swingers West End, with a wide range of customers, suppliers, family and friends!
  • GitHub partnership – this year, we announced an exclusive and unique partnership with GitHub Education, bringing world-class colocation services to their famous Student Pack for the very first time.
  • Cisco hardware on-site – we drastically expanded our on-site hardware stocks in 2019, now holding over 250 different Cisco model lines at our London Central facility, ready for immediate deployment both on-site and off-site.
  • Team expansion – we undertook a complete reshaping of our out-of-hours team early this year, with five new engineers joining the extended workforce. We’ll also be welcoming new Technical and Sales Managers to the day team early next year.
  • Connectivity growth – we now provide a wide range of connectivity services on our ever-growing metro network to a number of notable international carriers, including PCCW, RETN and IDE Group.
  • The next stage – we’ve massively fleshed out plans for the next phase in our development cycle, as we look towards accelerated growth and expansion over the next three years – watch this space!

As you’d probably expect from looking at the above, we’ve also exceeded our performance targets for the year by considerable margin, which ensures the stable, reliable ongoing operation of your mission-critical data centre services.

This is an extremely important factor to bear in mind when deciding who best to work with on long-term projects of this nature. Providing this peace of mind to our clients is something we are hugely proud of.


Looking ahead

2020 is set to be a year of major change as we look to execute plans for the next stage of our growth strategy.

We’re hoping to publicly announce these plans early in Q1.

Alongside these sweeping expansion plans, we’re also looking forward to the excitement of business as usual here at Netwise; introducing a range of interesting new customers to our facility and network in 2020, a number of which have already been arranged for execution in Q1.

We’d like to wish all of our stakeholders a fantastic New Year, and a prosperous 2020. We look forward to sharing it with you.

Netwise turns 10

Netwise was first incorporated on the 8th December 2009, making December 2019 a time of celebration – 10 years in business, doing what we love!

On the 13th December, we got together with friends, family, customers and suppliers to honour the occasion at Swingers West End, with great food, drinks, and of course a round of mini-golf!

This is quite the milestone for Netwise, a venture which started life in its earliest form way back in 2005, in the loft of Matthew’s family home. Not an ideal location of course, but it’s where the chips would begin to fall in favour of the organisation becoming a reality just a few years later.

In commemoration of the 10th birthday event, we’ve put together a gallery of photos from the evening, which you can browse below:


We hope everyone in attendance enjoyed themselves, and we look forward to welcoming you back to our future milestone celebrations as we continue to grow and evolve in the coming years.

Our guests on the night also got first eyes on our anniversary picture book, which gives an overview of the last 10 years at Netwise. Be sure to ask for a look when you’re next in at our London Central data centre!

We also have a video of the night coming in January, so keep an eye out for that on our socials.

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.

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.