Smaller data centre operators banding together to offer bigger networks

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With so much talk of hyperscale data centres and larger operations, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the vast majority of businesses are relatively small. 

While establishing any data centre is a significant business undertaking, the great majority are single-site operations, or maybe incorporate a small number of sites.

These smaller data centre providers offer the sort of customer service that many people might associate with old-fashioned, traditional local family businesses.

But these smaller enterprises can find it difficult to compete with larger, global data centre behemoths in the age of megastructures when tech giants can literally offer the world to each and every user.

One solution for the small and medium sized companies is to band together, which is exactly what the Global Data Centre Partnership is about.

The partnership is described as a “straightforward” linking together of a variety of independent data centre companies from different parts of the world, and complementing each other’s operations.

One of the companies involved in the partnership is Custodian Data Centres, which has a data centre in Kent, south-east England, but can offer national and international infrastructure through the Global Data Centre Partnership.

Leonard Kay, Custodian’s commercial director, says the partnership is very new, having started a few months ago, and many ideas about how to co-operate are being discussed and developed.

“It’s a group of about 14 data centres now,” Kay says. “Each one is an independent data centre provider.

“The idea is to encourage co-operation between independent providers who are in different geographic areas and are not in direct competition with each other.”

To most people, the location of a data centre is almost irrelevant since, as far as they are concerned, the location of the computer they’re using is the only thing that matters.

But where a data centre is does matter to the engineers and the people who transport the servers and set them up in a co-location facility like the one provided by Custodian.

“Engineers like to be close to the equipment,” says Kay. “Maintenance, upgrades and so on is obviously easier if the servers are nearby.”

For many businesses, the choice of locating their servers within their own offices is becoming less and less appealing. Having to deal with downtime caused by power supply issues, overheating, and other problems that inevitably occur can often stop smaller businesses from their other work.

So, placing servers at a local data centre, which has uninterruptible power supplies and sophisticated cooling systems, along with specialist technicians who can look after the machines is increasingly becoming a more sensible choice.

For larger businesses which require servers in different locations across the country or even the world, the Global Data Centre Partnership would help.

Simon Rosemeyer, sales director at Professional Services Technology Group, one of the companies involved in the data centre partnership, says: “The customer can stipulate their exact requirements and we can provide whatever solution that does the job.

“We’re not beholden to the vendors of equipment. Everything is being white-labelled nowadays anyway.

“Some people might want specific types of equipment, others mainly talk about the job they want done.

“But it’s all about the customer and what their needs are.”

The sites currently in the Global Data Centre Partnership network include:

  • ServeCentric, Dublin, Ireland
  • UKFast, Manchester, UK
  • AQL, Leeds, UK
  • Indectron, Gloucester, UK
  • MigSolv, Norwich, UK
  • Cogeco, Portsmouth, UK
  • TeleHouse, UK
  • Datum, Farborough
  • DigiPlex, Stockholm, Sweden
  • EvoSwitch, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • IAdvantage, Hong Kong
  • Cogeco, Florida, US
  • EvoSwitch, Virginia, US

It’s a relatively new partnership, but it has created a foundation on which it can build.

The key partnerships are with hubs, such as TeleHouse, and telecommunications providers such as Cogeco, which has many sites in the US, located on or near both the east and the west coast.