By Simon Taylor, Chairman, Next Generation Data
In this digital age, all businesses are effectively IT businesses no matter what they actually make or sell, whether in retail, professional services, manufacturing, and so on. IT underpins the systems and processes and more importantly will usually offer the key competitive edge, manage and pay the personnel, control suppliers and their costs, manage prospects and analyse customers buying habits, not to mention monitoring sales and powering web sites.
But the click-of-a-button efficiencies and competitive edge made possible by all of this sometimes obscures the realities of life for organisations of all shapes and sizes. That is, the web and cloud based computing solutions their business eco systems increasingly depend on are only as good as the quality and reliability of the servers, networks and data centres supporting them.
If these breakdown, suffer a security breach (digital or physical) or a natural disaster such as from fire or flood, some or all business operations are likely to be affected, often with serious consequences for them and their service providers.
More often than not it’s been too costly for the majority to relocate to Tier 3 or higher data centres as these have typically been built in and around London, where real estate and labour costs are at a premium. To compound the problem further there’s been an acute shortage of similar calibre facilities available in the regions.
This has meant many cloud and hosting providers, SMBs and larger entities have had little choice other than to keep their valuable IT equipment and data on-site or in poor quality data facilities converted out of office buildings, when it would be far more prudent to relocate them to modern purpose-built facilities – offering optimised data centre environments and maximum security.
On the move
Fortunately there is an increasing wind of change blowing through the data centre services industry and it’s heading out into the regions. This is largely thanks to the tumbling cost of high speed fibre networks provided by telecom carriers and ISPs and which are essential for carrying data practically anywhere between everyone and everything. Their relative low cost now makes it much more viable for data centre operators to take the kind of next generation data centre facilities traditionally clustered around London close to the telecom exchanges and replicate them much further afield.
At last larger, more scalable and higher calibre colocation data centres need no longer remain the exclusive preserve of very large businesses and will become increasingly accessible and affordable for small and growing businesses as well as the service provider channel.
NGD, for example, has been one of the first operators to open a very large Tier 3+ data centre well outside of London and the M25. At 750,000 square feet, the facility has the economies of scale as well as the power and resilient infrastructure necessary for accommodating and future proofing any company’s data storage and processing requirements, large or small. It also functions as a major regional hub for multiple international telecom carriers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ensure customers can be connected far and wide, including millisecond latency to London.
As the strategic value of IT to businesses of all kinds continues to grow along with demand for more secure and resilient data facilities, it is only a matter of time until more data centre operators establish large and more affordable state-of-the-art facilities well outside of the M25 and further NGD’s vision of establishing a serious alternative to London.
Apart from the security and business continuity benefits this new breed of mega data centre can undoubtedly provide compared to the alternatives discussed, it also brings significant business opportunities for IT resellers, cloud providers and smaller systems integrators requiring much more scalable data centre capacity, often initially requiring just a few racks. For larger users there are also considerable cost savings on energy usage and carbon emissions taxes due to major investments in the very latest energy optimisation and cooling systems and, in a few cases, a total commitment to renewable green energy.
The growing change blowing through the data centre industry can only be good news for the continued security and future prosperity of businesses everywhere. Equally, in our digital age, the ‘magnetic’ effect of regionally located world class data centres on local economies cannot be underestimated in their ability to attract more businesses and fresh talent from far and wide – much like the motorways and railways achieved in the previous two centuries.