In today's digital world, we rely on them for power, connectivity and security: data centres. But what exactly does a data centre do and how can it help your business keep growing? Matthew Dent, CEO of Volta Data Centres, tells The Post about the cloud, cooling systems and their new state of the art facility.
What is a data centre?
Data Centres are the modern day internet and information hubs. Together with connectivity providers such as BT or Vodafone, data centres are the backbone of the infrastructure that powers our increasing tech appetites. Whether an online gaming firm requiring fast internet connectivity to improve user experience, a media firm requiring high bandwidth for online editing and transfer of files, or a financial services institution in need for sub-millisecond connectivity to stock exchanges, we all use data centres to host our IT infrastructure and connect our business.
Even the cloud needs a home and our Facebook apps or iTunes libraries are all backed up in the physical infrastructure of a data centre.
Who might require the data centre services that Volta offers?
We live in an age where being without power or connectivity for a day has a great impact on any business. So anyone who operates a business requires resilient and secure hosting of their IT infrastructure to ensure their system never goes down.
What happens if there's a power cut or technical problem?
The beauty of a data centre is that we're always ON. Our data centre in Great Sutton Street has a 33,000 Volt feed, from two separate substations of the national grid. We have enough power to power The Shard. And even if both East and West London have a power outage, we can still run on our back-up systems, powered by generators.
How can Volta help companies deal with the challenge of so-called big data?
Whether big data or small data, it is equally important and needs to be housed in a secure and resilient facility. Whether I am an entrepreneur and my entire intellectual property sits on a server under my desk – probably on a carpet, overheating – or whether I am Tesco analysing consumer behaviour by looking at purchasing patterns, we all need the intelligence from our data to progress our business. A data centre is a purpose-built hosting environment – we offer power, cooling and connectivity to the outside world to keep your business operational.
So servers need to be kept cool and closely monitored?
Absolutely. Cooling is essential to ensure your server operates in the most efficient way. Because we are a brand new facility, we have been able to invest in the most efficient cooling system, which was, in fact, bought from one of our resident Clerkenwell companies. What we have also managed to do, because we have designed the new data centre from scratch, is to build in a system that recycles the heat from the server racks into our offices and common areas, to ensure we are not wasting energy.
How is Volta involved in helping companies provide cloud-based services?
One of our earliest customers is a managed cloud services provider who has chosen to locate their servers at Volta, because of our central location – they can pop in to look after their equipment – and the ability to scale up their business, since we are a brand new facility. While we cater for the physical infrastructure required to run the cloud, our customers and partners can help manage cloud-based solutions for any firm.
And how secure is the data stored at Volta?
Data centres are all about the security of the physical infrastructure, to make sure you’re always on and you have no system downtime. What data you store as a customer is yours to own, look after and protect. Whereas we do not offer digital security measures, our partners and customers in the building do and can provide the necessary advice or security solutions.
How is Volta different from other data centre companies and how much expertise do you have?
We believe we have found a unique opportunity in Central London to buy and re-develop a brand new, state of the art facility. As a management team, we have a combined experience of over 60 years in the data centre industry and we had our eye on this building for a while. Investing in this facility meant investing in upgrading London’s IT infrastructure for an increasingly digital age. Building a data centre from scratch in London is impossible due to connectivity and power requirements as well as physical space available and planning permissions. Yet we all need the physical infrastructure to
power our digital economy, tech appetites or tablet dependencies. For us, it was an investment in tech infrastructure that will help London run the businesses of tomorrow.
VOLTA IN NUMBERS
• The Volta Great Sutton Street facility was a Reuters data centre for nearly 30 years and has always been a key part of London’s IT infrastructure, a tech hub at the forefront of innovation.
• Volta acquired the building in the summer of 2012 and carried out a complete multi-million pound re-fit of the facility by August 2013, including a power upgrade from 2.8MW to 9.6MW.
• Over 250,000 man-hours have been invested in the refurbishment and an average of 175 staff have worked on the site every day.
• With 33kV feeds from two separate parts of the national grid, virtually the whole of London would have to suffer an outage before Volta’s back-up power systems are required, making it one of the most resilient data centres in the UK.
• A 91,000 sq ft facility, Volta Great Sutton Street data centre was formally launched in September 2013 by Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse.
To find out how Volta can help address your infrastructure challenges, contact:
Volta Data Centres
36-43 Great Sutton Street
London EC1V 0AB
020 7054 9400