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.
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 Colocation services mean that the clunky, out-of-date in-house comms room is replaced with efficient, modern and cost-effective data centre solutions.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a landmark arrangement which brings a data centre operator into the fold for the very first time, Netwise has partnered with GitHub Education to bring enterprise-grade colocation services to the famous GitHub Student Developer Pack – something never-before-seen.
The GitHub Student Developer Pack brings together some of the world’s foremost service operators, across a wide and varied range of technology sectors, including Digital Ocean, Microsoft Azure, Stripe and AWS.
We now join these titans of industry, representing a service set otherwise missing from the Pack until now.
While the number of students with their own physical server hardware may be limited, none-the-less there are many in full-time education that do elect to operate their own hardware (whether out of desire or project necessity), and until now they’ve have had no real means of operating this hardware in a suitable environment.
No longer is there any need for a student to run a server in their dorm room, or at home, making lots of noise, generating lots of heat, and costing a fortune in (highly unreliable) power.
Members can visit our special students landing page via the Pack, and self-verify for eligibility. From there, and for the first time ever, Pack-enrolled student developers can make use of world-class server colocation services free for a year, placing their own server into one of London’s leading data centre facilities.
Why we wanted to be a part of the Pack
This partnership has been something we’ve been working towards for some time, with both parties first engaging on the matter back in early 2017.
As many close to Netwise will already know, the earliest iteration of the business as it stands today started life while Matthew and Matt were still in high school; 15 years old at the time, in the summer of 2005.
While Netwise the organisation wouldn’t come to fruition for another four years (we incorporated in 2009), those early years were vital in developing our hands-on experience with server and network hardware.
So, where did we house our first system, comprised of 12 servers and a range of connectivity kit? Out of pure necessity, this lived in the loft / attic of Matthew’s parents’ house. Far from ideal, but aside from paying for third party data centre space on a near zero budget at the time, there were almost no other options available. Creativity was the order of the day, which helped shape our direction as a facility operator, but it still hindered our progress early on.
If only we’d had access to an offer like this back then! We truly hope that we are able to inspire the next generation of tech-focused developers and entrepreneurs with this free taste of top-level data centre services.
This isn’t just an exercise in working exclusively with students that qualify, as we realise this is a very limited pool.
We want to help educate the masses, many of whom may well be unfamiliar with the physical side of the internet and how systems are deployed around the world.
Many of the younger generation now focus more completely on cloud services and XaaS options, but that isn’t always suitable for all use cases. Experience with data centres and the services they offer is much harder to come by, so we hope this helps close off that gap for students interested in this approach.
We’ve already had some great discussions with eager students about how colocation services work, deeper chats about power consumption and how this is calculated, and other interesting conversations that we hope have helped even non-qualifying students learn a little more about how this industry operates.
GitHub at Netwise
We’ve used git in our own internal development projects for years, with GitHub as our repository platform of choice, so coming together more closely with an organisation and web app that we’ve grown close to in real-world terms has been fantastic.
Our own websites and web apps have all be deployed through our automated GitHub / DeployHQ workflow, which has naturally proved invaluable to us as we scale up operations and involve more developers in our projects.
It’ll be fantastic to see student developers deploy staging and production code to their own physical server, housed in our facility.
If you are a GitHub Student Developer Pack member, check your Pack for details on how to get hold of this service.
If you’re not a Pack member yet, but you’re in full-time education and want to apply, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and apply, as this year, the Pack contains free or discounted services with a whopping $45,000!