Supernode core network upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

GitHub Education partnership

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.


Educating students

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.


Getting involved

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!

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.