29 October 2012

A few hundred miles away, there is a huge lightening storm, yet it’s a beautiful night here. It’s a bit like that in business. Whilst some make hay while the sun shines, there will be an umbrella salesman kicking himself.

The economy works in the same way and, whilst it’s fantastic news that we are out of a recession, we were only technically in one because of a few industries who were dragging the balance down.

Removing the construction indsutry from the equation, for example, puts the country into a positive gold rush. So, somehow, we all need to get behind the construction industry and do what we can to kickstart this area of the economy. We can’t leave this to the government, it’s got to be rejuvenated by us.

We are completing our 3rd data centre project, Manoc 5,6 & 7, which is a massive push for the Manchester construction equilibrium.

The new data centres have more power per square metre than any other DC in the North West; in the region of 2-3 times that of Telecity’s Joule House. The rationale is that, with high-density computing expanding at a rate of knots, we have to plan for the future. The future is highly condensed server farms powering all of the clouds necessary to keep Manchester one of the fastest-growing tech cities in Europe.

Our boost for the construction industry doesn’t stop there, as we have 4 new sites in Manchester alone that are successfully through the stages of their feasibility study. Whilst we won’t build all 4 projects at once, our last project has taken less than 11 months to acquire the freehold of the property, get planning and build 3 data centres in one park. It puts the total development in the area to more than £12 million.

The next 4 projects could total in the region of £100 million if we are to push the button on them all. Realistically, I anticipate these will be rolled out over a couple of years.

It is difficult to predict what is needed in the next stage of our development though. It seems incredible that we now are the proud owners of 4 data centres.

But if you think things have changed in the economy, I personally believe that the biggest changes are in the way we market our businesses. The customer has always been king in my book; after all, where would we be without them? However, with the immediacy of social media, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, businesses’ reputations can be left in tatters if people over-promise and under-deliver.

It’s not a bad thing either, especially for the SME (small business). With global businesses rampaging into so many IT markets to drive their businesses forward, a number of them are seeing the managed hosting, or now ‘cloud’ as it’s been rebadged, as an exciting opportunity. The problem is that the market is more established than it might at first appear, and big businesses have a track record of struggling to manage large numbers of SMEs. And, with social media being a very loud voice to amplify everyone’s experiences, there is nowhere to hide for the businesses that merely copy websites and over promise.

It’s not “all about the cloud” as I read the other day on a strapline for another new entry to the market. It’s all about the customer and, whilst our industry is beginning to boom again, we should not forget that.

One thing is for sure; whilst people might struggle to predict which vendors will win in the battle for supremacy, there is a growing need for DC space. If you are building cloud environments in people’s offices or if you are designing one for your own business, you might want to get some advice from a third party.

Nowadays it’s cheaper, safer and quicker to entrust your data, storage and servers to professionals like Peer1 and UKFast who have done it since 1999, than trying to manage and then connect your environment to the outside world. Who has the ability to build a dedicated £10 million network going into your office? It makes sense to piggy-back on the backs of providers who have already proved the concept and built up a track record.

Whatever you are going to connect, you will always need a DC. So, with the need for a new, improved construction boost to the economy, maybe you should be building data centres too, or even easier, use one of our mini DCs – 200 racks, all fully managed with your own front door and all of the economies of scale, shared UPS and generators.

No one else is doing it; it’s a level of flexibility that’s not been around in the DC industry before. However, the market needs some new ideas, and this ‘plug and play’ approach that you have when you buy a mobile phone can now apply to something as large and as complex as a DC or, as we have named it, a DCplex.

There’s a new world out there. It’s fascinating. I have no idea where it’s going but I am fully committed and I am loving every minute of it.

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