London East Build Blog – Weeks 45 and 46

We’ve enjoyed an exciting fortnight of changes at NLE for this instalment of the Build Blog, with a large number of big ticket items landing on-site.

This has resulted in notable change throughout the facility over the past two weeks, across a number of key areas. The most striking of these has been the siting of our new generators, which now sit in their final positions in our front compound.

Weekly overview

Alongside the generators arriving – which are having a full canopy refinish in anthracite grey next week – we’ve also taken delivery of our first containment pod, including racks and the cold aisle system. This has resulted in major visual change in Data Hall 1.

We have a time lapse of the generators arriving and landing in place coming very soon, so watch out for this on our socials.

The first containment pod can now be assembled in Data Hall 1, which will be another major milestone in the deployment of our new facility.

Here we see our container arriving with the first containment pod setup for Data Hall 1
Part of the shipment was comprised of 14 fully built racks, alongside another 10 flat packed
The racks were unpackaged to the point of having a single retention bracket remain fixed to the custom pallet, before being lifted up to the first floor – in shot here we see one of our custom quarter cabinets
Empty racks are lifted up to the first floor loading dock, before being rolled off their custom pallets
A view from inside Data Hall 1, as the racks that will make up the first containment pod begin to roll into place
Another view from inside Data Hall 1, as the racks that will make up the first containment pod begin to roll into place
Some of the containment materials as they begin to be unpacked ahead of installation
We’ve now completed the physical installation of the turnstile and return-angle fencing that make up the main personnel entrance of the compound – the anti-climb rotating arms match those found at London Central
A wider view of the now completed entrance area of the compound fencing, pending full razor wire installation to the perimeter in the coming weeks
Here we see our new generators arriving to site, on two articulated trailers with lifting equipment
The first of four generators being lifted into place, each of which weigh around five tons dry
The final two generator sets ready for offloading, to join sets one and two which are now in place
All four sets in place, which will be securely sub-fenced off after commissioning – they’re also having a full canopy refresh in the coming weeks, taking them from white to anthracite grey
The backing board of our new sign being installed, with the protective film still in place
A look at the installed sign, which is an exact replica of the one at London Central, just on a slightly smaller scale to better suit the installation location at London East
A wider view of the new sign, in context with the main entrance door
A look at the first delivery of fire cabling, ready for installation to begin next week
We installed our new lightbar to the van this week, which brings the vehicle to completion
The van enjoyed a deep clean on-site this week, which was overdue in terms of removing the winter road salt that’d slowly been building up in the colder weather

The installation of our exterior building sign was quite a momentous occasion, as it’s the first time this facility has been properly branded with our logomark. This is the exact same style of sign as seen on the side of our London Central facility, with the diffused backlighting that really makes the sign pop at night.

The first instalment of armoured cabling to arrive, which will make up the bulk of the main underfloor power routes, will total somewhere in the region of eleven tons. The fire cabling within the building, which covers all detection and alarm systems, will total 2.5km in length.

We’ve had lots of custom made parts arrive over the past few weeks, destined for installation and / or use throughout the facility. One such item is a custom fork lift plate, which has been designed to take racks from the loading bay up to either floor level. This is a heavy duty steel plate welded to fork sleeves, which is low profile enough to drop straight into each loading dock.

What’s next?

The on-site schedule really picks up in the next week or two, as things begin to move on the end-out works. The site has a large number of trades beginning work, including the fire team, generator canopy refresh team, lift engineers, and a team who will be heading up adjustments to the skin of the building as part of our cooling system(s). This is all happening alongside the main power contractors beginning work, following completion of all design and design testing.

We’re very excited to share the progress!

London East Build Blog – Weeks 40 to 44

Visual updates have been somewhat limited throughout January, hence the delayed publishing of this five week instalment of the Build Blog.

The bulk of time and effort on-site is still being spent on end-out plans, and getting the energisation works underway. Alongside this, we’ve also been carrying out supplementary works in a number of areas, to keep things progressing while time is spent on final stage plans.

Weekly overview

In terms of physical on-site work, we’ve been keeping tempo with a range of works across a number of areas, all of which have helped to keep visual progress steady (but comparatively limited) while the next phase is executed behind the scenes.

Because visual change is somewhat limited at the moment, we have a lesser number of photos available in this instalment, however they do show various changes and arrivals throughout the site.

Some of our switchgear and electrical distribution infrastructure has started arriving on-site, destined for LV rooms and data halls – our primary LV boards are still being manufactured, and will be with us soon
Here we see one of our Mardix intelligent distribution boards, this variant being for M&E equipment with integrated ATS, freestanding for test placement in Data Hall 1
This variant is for rack level distribution – we have sixteen of these boards with us, to support all four data halls in due course – these will stand atop custom power monitoring enclosures
One of our new Ortronics ODFs, which will handle fibre distribution at NLE
Another two ODFs can be seen here, awaiting installation and commissioning, which will come later in the final end-out stage
The ground floor lighting has progressed, with the overhead cabling seen coming together here in Data Hall 4 – the left side shows an area which has been loomed, moving towards the right, which is being held apart until it’s ready to be bundled, in order
The ground floor access corridor with completed checker plate, to match the first floor – checker plating for phase one is now very nearly complete
A view of the turnstile frame now in place, pending final completion, which has been slightly delayed thanks to the very visible snow
Again snow-related, preparative works on the roof have been postponed due to the visible weather – access for this initial preparation work is via our scaffold tower, as seen here
A small addition, however all internal door systems have now had their door stops fitted, to prevent over-opening and damage to doors and/or walls
The first KVM / crash cart is now on-site ready for client use in Data Hall 1 – this is an Ergotron model, which we’ll be deploying across the board here at NLE, along with their monitor mounting systems in the build room

The ground floor areas that were due checker plate cladding as part of the phase one roll-out have now had all areas completed, aside from a couple of missing sheets; we’re now waiting on additional material to arrive with us. This will also allow for checker plating and associated bash protection to be installed in the loading bay, where equipment will be lifted to each level loading dock for both the ground and first floors.

The ground floor has also had its final lighting systems cabled and energised, meaning that all site lighting can now be removed – a great milestone in terms of this becoming a self-supported utility it its final guise.

The main front-of-building turnstile came back to us late last year, having been to our powder coaters to ensure a match with the existing system at London Central. This was installed towards the end of 2020, however has yet to have its internals fitted to the overhead containment tray. This will be done when weather permits, given the current snowy state of the UK earlier this week!

Some of our new electrical boards have started arriving on-site. These are largely our new Mardix units, which have been built in a number of varieties depending on the end use case, and delivered in our signature orange. These really pop against the otherwise monochrome data halls, turning out just as we had planned. The larger of the two orange board types each hold a self-contained ATS to allow for dual incoming feeds for all critical M&E equipment.

Most of the VESDA equipment is now on-site, aside from the red pipework that will be installed to collect the air samples. This forms part of the final fire protection plans, which are being completed in the next couple of weeks.

You can also see that our comms panels (ODFs) from Ortronics have arrived, which will be used to handle and distribute fibre from each A and B core. These will be installed as part of the network roll-out at London East, which is set to begin later in this final stage of works.

We’ve also had a team up on the main roof this week, however things were postponed slightly due to adverse weather. Despite there being no issues with the roof, we’re electing to have the roof resealed for our own peace of mind; something we did at London Central also. This will lead onto roof and skin adjustments for apertures in due course, both for personnel access and our cooling system.

What else has been happening?

The bulk of progress in January has definitely fallen into the ‘else’ category when it comes to the Build Blog, as the vast majority of time continues to be spent on desk work, bringing together the final elements that will enable client services to go live at NLE.

Those elements include LV and HV electrical, which form the bulk of the end-out process. The transformer equipment and the generators fall into this work category, which were ordered this week. We’re very excited to share the delivery of these items as they begin to land with us!

We’ve also finalised plans for everything on the fire protection side of the project, which will be installed concurrently with the main power systems.

Excitingly, we’re also having some really interesting conversations with organisations interested in taking space from day one. These range from simple DR services to support primary systems elsewhere, through to full private pods, custom designed to requirement.

What’s next?

We have a very large shipment arriving with us soon, holding all of the containment for the first pod of racks in Data Hall 1 – this is something we’ve been excited to receive for some time, and equally something we’re very excited to share with you here.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 37 to 39

Our team enjoyed some much-needed time off over Christmas, following a long run of works on-site at NLE in the closing months of 2020.

This first instalment of the Build Blog for the new year shows the current state of the facility as we head firmly into 2021 – the year in which our new site will launch to clients for the first time.

Before we start, did you catch our NLE envelope time lapse video? If not, here it is again for your viewing pleasure!

Weekly overview

The first few weeks of January have primarily been comprised of desk work, bringing end-out plans together as we enter the next phase of development.

As part of this, we’ve made great strides in finalising plans for our diverse dark fibre routes, which we will be announcing very soon.

Aside to planning work, we’ve also been completing some smaller tasks on-site, which have helped keep progress up despite the Christmas break and the focus on more general plans and scheduling.

So here’s an update of photos showing additional work completed since our last update, along with some general site photos to serve as a starting point for the Build Blog in 2021.

Here we see some of our new checkerplate cladding being prepared for installation to the wall system in high-risk areas
The checkerplate installed along the first floor corridor, to protect the walls throughout customer routes
Another view of the first floor corridor with its checkerplate in place
A look at the checkerplate which flanks both sides of Data Hall 1 (and will follow in all other halls), protecting walls behind the outward-facing row of racks in each pod
A look at the evaporative cooling system and cold corridor containment at the rear of Data Hall 1, with the flanking checkerplate on both sides of the room visible
Here we see the rear of the CREC system in Data Hall 1, which is the cold corridor space
One of the two supplementary air conditioning downflow units in place in Data Hall 1
A look across Data Hall 1, to the temporarily placed racks, showing the second supplementary air conditioning downflow unit in place
A view down the length of the first floor corridor, with the completed checkerplate fitted
Here we see the two supplementary downflow AC units in place in Data Hall 2, ready for future occupancy
This is the full blank system in place in Data Hall 2, which will be replaced with evaporative coolers at the time of conversion into an occupiable colocation space
This closer view of the custom blanking system, which is used to create the dynamic cold corridor space, shows full population with blanks – there are final finishing blank strips to be installed along the top of the plinths, along the floor edge
This is a rear view of the CREC blanking system in Data Hall 2, comprised exclusively of blanks, with the rear access panels for filter changes in the plinths visible along the floor line
First Floor Loading
Our first floor loading bay has also now been clad in checkerplate
First Floor Loading
The view looking towards the warehouse from the first floor loading bay, which will have a special fall risk safety system installed once the site is live
A view down into the loading bay, as the warehouse checkerplate sheets for that area are test-fitted
Data Hall 3 on the ground floor is currently being used as an extended storage room while works are ongoing
An alternative view of Data Hall 3, and some of the items currently held in this space while works continue
Data Hall 4 remains the emptiest white space inside the new facility at this time
Another view across Data Hall 4
This view of Data Hall 4 shows the adaptable cold corridor space that will hold the future cooling plant for this space, in whichever format best suits at the time of fit-out – this also leaves options open for private room conversion for a single large tenant
This view from the rear corner of the DR suite space shows the room ready for future fit-out, later in the build process
Ground Floor Loading
This is the ground floor loading bay, looking out into the warehouse, which sits directly below the first floor space of the same nature
Ground Corridor
A look down the ground floor access corridor, with the entrances to Data Halls 3 and 4 seen on the right – this space will have its checkerplate installed in the coming weeks
A view down the entry way ramp to the speed gates, which are close to having their integration completed
The first floor atrium at the top of the stairs, showing the lift internals nearing completion
The view down to the entrance ramp, from the first floor atrium / landing, with what will be our two-story green wall clad in timber on the left
The custom made triple-flight access staircase which sits centrally within the new facility
A look up the double-height atrium from the first staircase landing, with the timber clad shaft wall shown on the right, which will have the green wall fitted to it
This is a view inside one of our LV power rooms, with some of the UPS and battery enclosures in temporary dust wraps held for future use in this space
This is the same LV room as above, looking out towards one of the the risers (left) and the ground floor loading bay
This is the second LV room, a reflection of the first, with the same kit in temporary dust wraps ready for future deployment
The reversed viewing angle from the above LV room, again showing a riser (right), leading into the ground floor atrium
The completed feature / texture wall in place in the NLE meeting space, which matches the tiles used on the large feature wall at the NLC NOC
Build Room
This is our new build room and customer breakout area, with some white goods now on-site ahead of kitchen installation in due course

The checkerplate is the most obvious visual addition since the last instalment of the Build Blog, covering the walls in all high foot fall customer routes. This gives much-needed protection and a great deal of added visual energy to the space. Custom plates for all high risk doors will also be installed soon.

The reason for having most of the ceiling tiles still in a state of removal is simply for ease of ongoing access. We still need easy accessibility above the grid for cabling overhead services during the build, and as such we will only be installing the tiles once access requirements calm down. This is to ensure the tiles are installed with the least amount of disturbance once in place.

As you can see from the wider facility photo set, the progress made in the last ~8 months is impressive to say the least. As a reminder of where we’ve come from in that time, we’ve included a set of day one photos of the space below.

Warehouse 1
A view from the rear of the main warehouse area
Warehouse 3
The main warehouse space, viewed from the front, with the existing amenities block in view
Office NOC
A view across the office and future NOC area

What our team have managed to achieve in this time is staggering (even more so as this all occurred in the middle of a global pandemic!), and we’re incredibly proud of everyone involved, particularly as we move onto the next phase of energisation, preparing us for launch later this year.

What else has been happening?

We’ve expanded our team!

We’ll be making the official announcement soon, although the hawked eyed among you may have already seen this causing quite a stir online.

We’ve also been going through our first ISO recertification audit, following our initial accreditation to both ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 back in 2017. This will renew our certificates for another three years, with annual surveillance audits covering the 12 month cycles in between. The scope of our certifications will be expanded later this year, to include the new NLE site. This is our first fully remote audit, thanks to the COVID pandemic, which has been an interesting new approach to the audit process.

What’s next?

Planning on the next phase of electrical works will continue, with a number of exciting developments to announce very soon.

We’ll also be continuing with a wide variety of supplementary works, which will includes taking delivery of our first customer enclosure pod; racks, containment, blanks etc, which will allow us to layout our first occupiable colocation space within Data Hall 1.

A look back at 2020

What a difficult year 2020 has been for everyone around the world.

While this year will certainly stand as one to forget for many, we’re going to remember 2020 for a long time, as a year of extremely exciting developments here at Netwise.

A look back at 2020

This has been our largest year of investment to date, having broken ground on our brand new London East data centre back in April. Unsurprisingly, this is by far our biggest single project to date, and will provide the capacity we need to continue with our upward growth projections as we head into the new decade.

While NLE has taken centre stage this year in terms of investment and development, it’s been a busy year aside to this, across a wide range of key areas.

Notable projects from 2020 include:

  • We started work on London East – we started work on our brand new London East data centre in April. We’ve been running our Build Blog ever since then – needless to say, we’re very excited about what 2021 will have in store for us and our new site.
  • Graham Cornell joined as Technical Manager – Graham joined as our new Technical Manager in January, and has been hard at work helping our growing roster of clients ever since.
  • THN became our first Supernode – in March, we upgraded our core node in Telehouse North, becoming the first on-net site to enjoy the roll out of our full Supernode architecture.
  • We added CLL to our POP list – the summertime saw the roll out of a brand new on-net POP / node at City Lifeline, one of London’s most important carrier-dense facilities – we took a pod of racks here, to secure our future in this location.
  • We took delivery of our first fleet vehicle – our first fleet vehicle joined us this year – number 001 – which has since received our full livery and chevron kit. This will be joined by further vehicles in due course, and makes the ongoing operation and maintenance of our multiple facilities much easier (along with client migrations).
  • We expanded into FRA and AMS – we’ve expanded our presence in Frankfurt, and have entered the Amsterdam market for the first time, all driven by client growth in these key European locations.
  • Our first private cage went live – we deployed our first private client cage at our London Central site in Q1, allowing one of our key clients to enjoy an entirely private space in Data Hall 1, complete with their own access control and build desk.
  • COVID-19 safe operations – in line with changing government guidelines throughout the year, we’ve always ensured fully-compliant operation of our sites, both in terms of our own team, and visiting clients.

Beyond the roster of notable projects above, we’ve also performed extremely well in our 19-20 financial year, which came to an end in October. Despite global economic issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re fortunate to operate in a sector which has seen accelerated growth and demand as organisations move to remote working.

We hope that our continued growth in what has been a very turbulent year provides the stability our customers need to operate with total peace of mind, thanks to the faultless operations of critical business systems around the clock.

We helped many new and existing customers pivot to fully-remote working environments back in April, which we’ve continued to do throughout the year.

Our growth this year has been testament to our rock-solid operation, which our clients continue to rely on for their critical IT infrastructure. We’ve been extremely proud to see so many of our clients continue to grow this year, providing world-class services to millions of end-users all around the world.

Looking ahead

We’re looking forward to 2021 just as much as everyone else, not least as we expect to return to a more normal home life, but also as we see the fruits of our labour this year come into full service.

In early 2021, we’ll be adding to our team, which we’re very excited to share with everyone in January.

A reminder of our exciting 10th birthday, which we celebrated at the end of 2019

We’d like to wish all of our stakeholders a fantastic New Year, and a prosperous 2021. We look forward to sharing it with you.

London East Build Blog – Weeks 35 and 36

As we head towards the Holiday Season, we’ve been able to clear away a range of outstanding tasks on our list, setting things up nicely for the continuation of scheduled work in Q1 2021.

This short entry covers the items that have seen progress in the weeks leading up to the Festive holiday.

Weekly overview

We’ll be keeping this post relatively brief, however we’ve seen dramatic developments in a couple of key areas; cooling and lighting.

The entire first floor is now fully lit through the Klik system, which provides power to our overhead LED panels. This means that all temporary site lighting on the first floor can now be removed. Emergency bulkheads have also been wired up, ready for final directional label application in due course.

We’ve also built out our cooling system much further, with Data Halls 1 and 2 now very near completion, ahead of plumbing and cabling. The supplementary air conditioning systems are now also in place, pending commissioning much later in the project.

We lit up the first floor of the facility with full overhead lighting for the first time
Fire Stairs
Although our new first floor fire exit got installed a little while back, we haven’t yet shown it – here it is, providing a new fire exit route to the rear of the first floor data halls
Fire Stairs
Another view of the fire exit, taken from the rear access walkway
Here we see the cooling system being married up to its custom blanking system
Here we see the completed system in Data Hall 1 (pending commissioning), showing blanking panels and return-to-atmosphere louvres
Here we see a set of coolers, and an interconnecting blank, which in due course can be removed to allow for the installation of additional cooling capacity
A look at the now fully-situated cooling plant and containment system, pending some final low-level blanks, which now forms the zoning of the cold corridor
This is the view of the cooling plant in Data Hall 2, which at this time is entirely populated with blanks, pending commissioning of the hall in due course
A wider view of the blanking system in Data Hall 2, pending the louvre installation along the top edge

The past few weeks have been vital in driving the project forwards, as we continue to line up the various items required for the next phase of the build.

What else has been happening?

We have two new deployments underway in Frankfurt and Amsterdam, which have been in the works now for some time. These will reach completion in the next few weeks, with a large number of high-specification servers and high-performance connectivity rolling out in both locations.

These have both been top-to-bottom deployments for us, from consultation, hardware supply, project management, right through to provisioning.

We’re very excited to see these two new systems come online. Amsterdam will be a new location for Netwise, and the roll-out in Frankfurt sees us expand our existing footprint in Germany’s most important data centre hub.

We’ve also had confirmation this week of our plans for fully diverse fibre routes back to our core nodes in THN and LD8, which is great news. The ball is now rolling on installation of these lines, which will provide us with dark fibre access to our existing metro network. Our network will then span five key London data centres.

In other news, we’ve been working directly with TfL to update the content on our travel notice screen in reception at NLC, which will carry over to a the new system being installed at NLE. Look out for the updated screens on-site at our facilities soon!

What’s next?

We will be continuing with progress on outstanding items throughout the holiday season, ready for larger trade work to continue in Q1. This will most notably include the electrical portion of the project – both HV and LV – which will take us right through to the point of onlining the site.