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The true cost of energy is not being charged

Posted By Robert Tozer, Operational Intelligence Limited, 21 September 2015

Our carbon debt is accruing interest.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that the atmosphere can take another 1000 Giga tons of CO2 before we reach our target of 2ºC of global warming. If our current rate of emissions remains static, this threshold will be reached in 30 years and no further CO2 emissions can be released.

We are releasing emissions at an unsustainable rate; there is some debate over whether the impact of a 2 degree temperature rise is too great; depending on the exact eco-system tipping point, the anticipated consequences include extreme weather conditions, severe droughts, floods, water shortage, food shortage, social unrest, mass emigration, riots and financial meltdown; we will be at war with ourselves fighting for survival.

US president Barak Obama recently said that this is the first generation to notice the effects of global warming and the last generation to be able to do something about it. I agree, the consequences will be personal and extreme.

I believe we got to this situation due to an open loop control issue, we use way too much energy and we are not charged for the environmental consequences of it. If energy costs were say 10 times greater, we would think twice about: flying, driving, heating / cooling set points, insulation, leaving lights / computers on, etc., etc. Then we might have some money for research and development of renewable energy, and reduction programmes of energy use and embodied environmental impact of products and systems.

Tags:  disaster recovery 

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Disaster Recovery Q & A with Patrick Doyle, Director at LDeX

Posted By Anne-Marie Lavelle, LDeX Group, 08 July 2014

Disaster Recovery Q & A with Patrick Doyle, Director at LDeX

Patrick Doyle, COO at London based colocation and network connectivity provider LDeX, shares his thoughts about why organisations should opt for colocation over keeping their disaster recovery in-house for business continuity purposes.

First of all, what do you see as the main reasons for organisations opting for colocation over having an in-house facility which caters for its disaster recovery needs?

There are many reasons for choosing colocation over keeping disaster recovery in-house:

1)    Scalability

Businesses opt for colocation based services due to the scalability benefits of having a datacentre facility which caters to the client’s expanding customer base. Datacentres have extensive capacity to be able to cope with large increases in the number of servers, infrastructure and systems which need to be installed, connected and maintained at a moment’s notice. This is something which is not always feasible in an in-house facility.

2)    Stronger bargaining power to negotiate energy pricing

Datacentres have stronger bargaining power to negotiate prices on energy pricing for power, cooling and critical load protection. LDeX for instance has recently fixed prices for a three year period so that customers are able to obtain colocation without the heavy price tag which would usually go hand in hand with data storage.

3)    Security and 24×7 support

Having your systems stored on site poses a tremendous risk to the organisation in that if the systems go down or there is a fire in the building, the business may be offline for a substantial period of time which would lead to decreasing revenues and profit margins. By storing your systems offsite in a location which is away from a flight path or a flood plain which is safe, robust and secure with perimeter control, companies can be assured that there will be 100% uptime and that there are datacentre engineers and security measures such as facial recognition monitors and mantraps to ensure your company’s online presence is protected at all times. LDeX owns its own datacentre facility which is situated on Staples Corner, beside the M1, giving customers access to the site without being in the centre of London.

4)    On hand expertise

Datacentre specialists are on hand 24 x 7 to provide support when needed within a timely period so that in the unlikely event that something does happen, it is being dealt with by engineering experts. At LDeX, the data centre, network engineering and senior management team are on hand on a 24x7x365 basis giving clients reassurance that their business is our priority.

These services are critical and clients like to have that extra support to have advice about how to mitigate against potential network attacks such as DDoS attacks. Having that specialist expertise at the right moment is priceless when you compare it to how much your company would lose if something happened to your business which affected your revenue stream.

5)    Full control over your systems

Colocation offers the business a way of installing its equipment into a resilient datacentre with the ability to have full control over its IT systems. It means that the business can focus on what it does best while the datacentre provider looks after the backend and its business continuity.

6)    Minimal risk of construction charges

Finally, locating your infrastructure within a carrier neutral facility such as LDeX means that the business has an array of network providers to choose from which minimises the risk of excess construction charges.

With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, what do you see as the specific considerations for choosing a colocation provider for disaster recovery?

Access to the support team

Having a support team which has the experience and knowledge to cope with any situation which may arise in a calm and reasonable way is paramount in being able to deliver on tight SLAs. When disaster recovery is required, the onsite data centre support team should be able to react on behalf of the client in a promptly manner. Clients often appreciate that the advice that we offer on how this problem should be dealt with and give updates on what work is being done as and when it happens.

As mentioned, datacentre operators have rigorous physical and network support using a multi-tiered approach in order to mitigate any breaches which might arise otherwise on an onsite location. Datacentre facilities are not only monitored on a 24×7 basis via an offsite security company, but security staff on hand would have set procedures to follow to alert police automatically. Facial recognition monitors, tags, mantraps and laser trip wires are just some of the additional measures which are in place acting as a deterrent to intruders.

Proximity to the client’s site

Clients often have different preferences and requirements with regards to how close they would like to be in proximity to the datacentre which they use for their business services. Some clients prefer to be a reasonable distance away from the client’s site in order to provide protection from a major disaster. You also get clients who like to be in proximity to the colocation facility for ease of access.

Are there any hidden costs associated with colocation that users need to be aware of?

The norm would be that all colocation related costs which arise post contract are usually well documented. From time to time, there are usually some services which arise on an ad hoc basis such as remote hands or scheduled engineering, copper and fibre cabling work which needs to be availed of when the client cannot get to the facility within a specific time period. Although this is charged on top of the standard service, the client is always given options in these instances.

Is there a certain point where enterprises are basically too big to use a colocation provider for disaster recovery?

At the moment, there is a lot of consolidation taking place in the market place where large global companies are consolidating their regional disaster recovery from multiple data centres into one large datacentre. LDeX has recently signed contracts with a two US based clients which are currently doing this.

Do colocation providers offer visibility into systems remotely? Or is that just something you have to set up on your own, or assign staff to work at the remote location?

Datacentre providers typically offer visibility into power utilisation per power feed so a client can see how much power they are using at any given time. The clients IT systems are usually managed by the client which is one of the main unique selling points of colocation.

Patrick Doyle, COO at LDeX Group

Tags:  connectivity  Datacentre  Date Centre  disaster recovery  LDeX Group  London 

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Multi skilling in the Data Centre Industry

Posted By Anne-Marie Lavelle, LDeX Group, 12 June 2014

 Multi skilling in the Data Centre Industry

The ‘skills gap’ has unfortunately become synonymous with the technology industry with 2.5 million IT jobs expected to go unfulfilled by 2020 according to a recent infographic from IT recruitment firm SmartSource. For clients dependent on having low latency resilient connectivity to their servers, infrastructure and systems at all times, not to mention reliable data centre and network support, this is a particularly worrying fact.

Staff need to be able to have the adequate skills, knowledge and expertise in order to deal with any client query that may arise and be able to cope and resolve problems promptly in the unlikely event of a power outage. As 75% of data centre downtime is caused by some sort of human error, I felt it necessary to put this blog together.

Lack of experience

Many technicians who I see looking to work in the data centre environment don’t possess the necessary experience with servers, electrical and operating systems that one would expect or else they are not familiar with the different types of equipment which needs to be installed and worked on. Frankly, this is not acceptable making the search for high calibre engineers all the more difficult.

The necessity to up-skill and retrain

In the current climate, there is a reliance on existing staff to up-skill and attend additional courses in line with the latest developments. Technology has moved on at a rapid pace outpacing many of those working in the industry signalling the need to develop existing skill sets. Whether it is a short course in data centre design or an MA in a specialised area such as wireless networking, it is paramount to keep up to date in order to progress to a management position in the data centre.  I find that by staff going on to attend and pass these courses showcases a strong aptitude and enthusiasm to their employer for self-development and career progression. What is promising to see is that 57% of IT industry firms intend to train existing staff in order to address these requirements.

Combining technical aptitude with relevant experience

Another positive development is that the UK government has taken light of the situation by allocating much needed investment to programmes and courses focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in recent years giving students the necessary knowledge and aptitude to work in a high tech environment. These courses coupled with the increasing number of internship programmes that are regularly offered will make candidates more marketable possessing everything that they need to succeed.

The LDeX viewpoint

At LDeX Group, the team is regularly trained to cope with the increasing demands that are expected of the company. On the data centre side, technicians would either have trained or be completing technical courses such as CompTia, MTA, CCNA, CCNP, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. On the finance side, staff are completing qualifications from the Association of Accounting Technicians and ACCA. Since joining the company, I have been given the opportunity to study electrical engineering and will attain my qualification next year and hope to go on and do more courses to keep up to date with everything.

Practical training coupled with the right aptitude and enthusiasm is essential in being able to cope with tasks outside of one’s comfort zone to deal with client demands. The knowledge base and skillset that was required a decade ago is expected to be supplemented with additional training in keeping up with what’s happening in the industry. Although there is still a long way to go, strong in-roads are being made by the government and employers in the industry – watch this space!

Jesse South – Data Centre Supervisor at LDeX

Tags:  connectivity  Datacentre  Date Centre  disaster recovery  infrastructure  LDeX Group  Location  Skills Development 

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Access to Data Centres: more than just an afterthought in times of crisis

Posted By Anne-Marie Lavelle, London Data Exchange, 27 March 2014
Updated: 27 March 2014

Access to Data Centres: more than just an afterthought in times of crisis


We are all hoping that the severe floods experienced recently in parts of the UK are now behind us. However damaging they may have been to the public and businesses alike, they should have acted as a wake up call for business planners & those responsible for running critical infrastructure to revisit their approach to business continuity and disaster recovery planning

As media reports have highlighted, the importance of the right disaster recovery plans in the advent of a natural disaster is even more crucial with the ever changing unpredictable weather patterns we now seem to be faced with .

The recent floods should have also prompted a further consideration for business planners, namely as to where to their locate their data centre resource, and how accessible it will be during a natural disaster.

 

The floods were especially severe along large swathes of the Thames Valley region, including Slough and other locations along the M4 corridor, which are popular data centre locations. Staines and Egham for example were particularly hard hit because of their proximity to the River Thames, and were at times completely inaccessible.

Physical access to data centres is therefore a vital element that can often be overlooked or ignored by business planners. Because if you cannot access your data centre physically, then how can engineers access the data centre to ensure it remains operational or repair faults, or even to top up the diesel for the backup power generators? Diesel generators can only operate as long as they have the fuel to run them. If a server running mission critical applications for your business went down due to a fault, what would happen if one your engineers tried to visit the Data Centre to replace a faulty machine and they simply could not get to the facility because of road closures due to flooding making access impossible?

This last point was starkly illustrated when Hurricane Sandy hit New York in late 2012. When it hit the ‘Big Apple’, a lot of websites were knocked offline as local data centres became flooded or lost power. One data centre (Lower Manhattan’s Peer 1) managed to remain operational because physical access was still possible. This allowed volunteers to carry diesel fuel in buckets after flooding had shorted out a basement fuel pump.

Thus physical access is a vitally important consideration for business planners, if data centres are to remain operational in times of crisis. It is not just a question of having the appropriate disaster recovery plans and flood defences.

Business planners who are choosing a data centre location need to consider the following factors. Is the facility on (or near) a flood plain? Are there major roads nearby that are likely to remain open? What are the public transport links like? Not all data centres are created equal in this regard. But some have much better accessibility options than others. Many Data Centre operators will state that their facility is not on a flood plain and this maybe the case, but what business planners should look more carefully into is the proximity of the facility to areas that may be prone to flooding that could impact accessibility to the Data Centre they are hosted in.

LDeX for example has a 22,000sq ft carrier neutral colocation facility located at Staples Corner (North West London). The facility is not on a flood plain and it is elevated 65 metres above sea level which is one the highest points in London. Accessibility is guaranteed because it is situated at the convergence of a major road network (the M1 motorway and A406 London Ring Road) and in close proximity to the A40, M40, M25 & M4. It also well within the boundaries of the M25, meaning that public transport links are also plentiful.

Therefore business planners need to reassess their disaster recovery plans following the recent floods, and factor in some new considerations. They need to factor in the physical accessibility of their chosen data centre in any future plans.

Data Centre operators whether corporate or multi-tenanted should also be considering these issues when planning investment and doing feasibility on their next Data Centre build

After all, it is worth remembering that yes, network connectivity is very important, power always on paramount, but physical connectivity is equally crucial and should not be ignored.

Arpen Tucker, Group Commercial and Strategic Director at LDeX Group

 

Tags:  Datacentre  Date Centre  disaster recovery  Flooding  LDeX Group  London 

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