UK Government Breathes Life Back Into UK’s Essential Data Centre Industry

Steven Norris, President of Data Centre Alliance

The UK Government has finally recognised the economic importance of the Data Centre sector – one of the few industries where UK plc has a world lead – by their inclusion for the first time ever in a Government announcement.

(Data centres are the giant computing factories that drive industry, commerce, the cloud and social media.)

 

Said Data Centre Alliance President and former Minister of Transport Steven Norris, “The Chancellor of the Exchequer finally recognised Data Centres in his Autumn Statement as the major industry and economic wealth creator that they are, by removing the punitive tax regime that had been making the UK non-competitive in this business and forcing companies to off-shore their data centres.

 

“Britain is a world leader in the Data Centre industry and the Climate Change Levy had been wrongly applied to it because the Government, and indeed the public, were totally unaware of its existence! Something we at industry body the Data Centre Alliance (DCA) have been working hard this year to change. The Chancellor’s Autumn statement plus the winning of the first ever European Strategic Research funding for Data Centres now demonstrates that DCA has succeeded in bringing this previously unseen industry onto the Political agenda.”

 

Norris went on to explain that the Data Centres are buildings full of computer servers that power things like Facebook, Twitter, E-mail, the Banks all big businesses. Airline booking systems, Air Traffic Control, the NHS, city traffic lights and in fact just about every part of our lives are controlled by these massive data centres.

 

“The UK was one of the very first countries to develop Data Centres out of our world-class telecommunications and mainframe computing industries,” Norris said, “and we were in serious risk of loosing what are effectively the UK’s only remaining ‘factories’.”

 

We refer to them as ‘factories’ because they store and make information out of raw data. They are massive – often the size of five or six football pitches – and can consume as much electricity as a small city. “What the Government is now starting to understand is that it is essential to protect and grow one of the few industries where UK plc still has a world lead,” said Norris, “and we are delighted that DCA’s efforts in representing the industry to them have, in such a short period of time had such significant results.”

 

As recently as June 2013 when the DCA in conjunction with the UK’s foremost political magazine New Statesman produced the UK’s first mainstream expose of the hitherto ‘hidden world’ of data centres, no Government Minister could be found to write a contribution, because they were unaware of this massive sector.

 

The publication of that Special Report and a personal briefing by DCA to Greg Baker Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change brought about an instant interest. So much so that by the time of the second DCA/New Statesman Data Centre Special Report in August 2013 Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willets wrote a leader article recognising the importance of the sector and noted that Government Ministers Vince Cable, Michael Fallon and Ed Vaisey had all now been to visit Data Centres!

In the New Statesman/DCA special report, Willets wrote:

“Data centres are a crucial part of that infrastructure, and are an area that the government needs to understand better. They are the physical, tangible manifestation of the somewhat invisible and ethereal concept which is the internet. They are absolutely fundamental to a successful and vibrant information economy in the UK, supporting some of our biggest global companies, and our research institutions. London’s successful financial sector could not function without the state-of-the-art data centres in areas like Docklands, enabling computer-based and low-latency trading.

Data centres are the tangible manifestation of the ethereal internet

Moreover, in the UK we are good at putting together data centres – and this is expertise we can export to the world at a time when global spending on data centres is predicted to reach $149bn next year.

Concluded the DCA’s Executive Director Simon Campbell-Whyte, , “We are delighted that the UK Government has now recognised the imperative to grow and support this sector. And, although as an organisation we represent the industry globally we believe that this is a major milestone in the success of UK plc and are proud that we were able to achieve this on behalf of our members.”

 

“It is of course only a first step, and we are standing by to assist UK Government and Governments worldwide as they come to terms with understanding and supporting the digital factories that now power the global information economy.”

ABB Joins Data Centre Alliance – To Contribute To ‘The Good Of The Industry’

Simon Campbell-Whyte, Executive Director at Data Centre Alliance

Simon Campbell-Whyte, Executive Director at Data Centre Alliance

ABB, a world leader in power and automation technologies has joined industry representative body the Data Centre Alliance (DCA) at its highest level of membership – as a Platinum Partner.

 

Explaining why the company has joined, ABB’s head of the data centre sector for ABB in Europe Ciaran Flanagan said, “We at ABB see the Data Centre Alliance as a trusted advisor to the datacentre industry in terms of standards, innovation and research for the future. It is also rapidly becoming ‘the voice’ of the industry. Membership represents a great opportunity for ABB to better understand end-user requirements and focus our research and development appropriately for our mutual benefit.

 

“We look forward to working with the peer vendors and end-users to discuss future technologies and trends – and how these might help the industry better contribute to the common good. Also to help develop the human capital required to address the challenge.

 

“The format and objective of the Data Centre Alliance, in our opinion, promotes the sharing and benchmarking of concepts and performance amongst the members”.

Flanagan continued by explaining that ABB had decided to join at the Platinum Partner level because: “We clearly see and understand the value of the Data Centre Alliance to the industry and we want to participate at a significant level”.

 

ABB’s major focus will be on contributing to the DCA, he said. “We intend to share ABB’s vision for the future of the sustainable data centre. We will support the DCA by sharing new understanding that results from our corporate R&D efforts and we will invite the DCA members to engage with us as we assess new opportunities for improving datacentre performance.

 

“Our global network of data centre professionals can be leveraged by the DCA to share experience, best practices and standards from our customers who are willing to engage,” said Flanagan.

 

Commenting on ABB’s membership, Simon Campbell-Whyte, executive director of the Data Centre Alliance said, “We are delighted to have ABB on-board and that their focus is on contributing for the greater good of the industry. That exactly mirrors the aims and objectives of the Data Centre Alliance.

 

He continues, “I know that by ‘giving’ in this way they (and many other members who give their time and efforts so selflessly) will reap significant rewards in the long-term both by recognition in the industry and by being able to profitably align their R&D programs to the true and energy needs of the global customer base.”

 

ABB’s success in world markets is attributed to its very strong focus on Research and Development with 17 corporate research centres and an unflinching determination to invest in R&D whatever the market conditions.

 

ABB is able to boast that many of the technologies underlying our modern society – from high voltage power transmission to revolutionary ship propeller systems – come from their R&D and commercialisation efforts.

 

The most recent such technology being a completely new DCIM (data centre infrastructure management) solution called Decathlon®. This has been deployed by Green Datacenter AG initially at its Zurich West data centre and shortly to be installed by them company-wide.

 

Concluding, ABB’s Ciaran Flanagan said, “I very much hope that all of the major players in the sector who’ve not yet joined DCA will take our example and join – to contribute to the greater good of the industry”.

 

To find out more about the Data Centre Alliance or join please visit www.datacentrealliance.org/join

After Google and Microsoft Outages – “We Need to Talk” says Data Centre Alliance

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“Data Centres need to talk to each other more to avoid the sort of outages that have hit Google and Microsoft in recent weeks.” So said Phil Turtle CCO of Data Centre Alliance – the not for profit Industry body.  “The data centre industry is relatively young, yet these outages demonstrate just how utterly dependent in it we all our for our business and personal lives.

“Currently it exhibits too many ‘knowledge silos’ and an unnecessary fear of working together with competitors to share ‘best-practice’ – something mature industries find highly beneficial.

Many data centres do not have the resources of a Google or a Microsoft, yet as we have seen even with their massive technological resources these giants can have problems.

We commend more data centre operators, service providers, and individual data centre professionals to join the Data Centre Alliance and to share experiences and expertise with their peers – to ensure that the entire industry can learn from these outage events and share the knowledge for the benefit of data centre customers and service-users globally.

Working together allows the pooling of resources to establish and codify best practice – not only to avoid outages but also to increase power efficiency, and provide reliable comparative measurements (a level playing field) to enable customers to properly compare data centres when they are searching. All of these are initiatives on which the Data Centre Alliance (DCA) is currently working.

“How reliable a data centre is should be a ‘given’ and not a competitive edge, ‘ said Turtle. “There are many other factors on which to compete and the industry needs to share knowledge in the same way that other critical industries like nuclear and air-transport for the greater good.”

As part of the first ever Europe-funded research project, PEDCA, into the training and in-depth needs of the industry – there is a free entry-level Data Center Alliance membership available at http://turt.co/dca28

“We call on the whole industry to work together to reduce major outages for the good of the industry and the customers who rely so totally on us,” said Turtle.

DCA is also working on the skills shortage and recruitment difficulties faced by an industry largely staffed by professional in their fifties. Funded by two major data centre operators: Telecity and Telehouse plus training company CNet Training, DCA is currently running a pilot ten day intensive Boot Camp for graduates at the University of East London, to teach them the What? Why? and Where? of data centres  and the all-important skill of ‘critical-thinking’.

It is then planned to roll-out these Boot Camps internationally with the help of the industry’s training community for the benefit of the entire industry.

Out Of Work Graduates Go To High Tech Bootcamp In Search For Jobs

Data Centre Alliance BootcampThe plight of unemployed graduates in the UK, particularly London its capital, has been highlighted in the press and on the national news.

Bizarrely, the UK’s major high tech industry – data centres – have been having major difficulties finding suitable recruits to work in these ‘factories of the future’ – they are often the size of five or six football pitches and packed with tens of thousands of computer servers.

Today sees the start of Data Centre Bootcamp which aims to help out of work graduates and forces-leavers to find work in this exciting industry.

As well as tens of thousands of computer servers, Data Centres also contain massive electrical and mechanical installations, with generators as big as a ship’s engine and an amazing array of industrial-scale pipework.

A medium size data centre can use as much electricity as a small city – yet they are 100 per cent more efficient than company server rooms.

A very wide range of skills from Electrical and Mechanical Engineering to IT and sales are needed.

Probably the fastest growing area of the UK economy – and behind almost everything we do in today’s digital world, data centres are almost the only ‘factories’ remaining in the UK economy.

And they’re absolutely critical because everything from airline booking systems and air traffic control, to traffic-light phasing, Facebook status updates, tweets, e-mail, supermarket tills and stock control, Amazon, e-commerce. In fact just about every business you can think of now relies upon data centres for its operation.

“Amazingly,” says Simon Campbell-Whyte, executive director of international industry body the Data Centre Alliance, “the average age of people in the data centre industry is fifty-something and there’s a major skills shortage coming in this vital industry.

“We’ve worked with our many Data Centre Operator members to come up with ‘Data Centre Bootcamp’ which started today with TV news coverage by ITN. We hope this Bootcamp will give many unemployed graduates, and some of the highly able people now being forced out of our armed forces, the extra skills they need to become credible interview candidates for data centre employers.”

Today’s first pilot of Data Centre Bootcamp was devised by the Data Centre Alliance and is being run at the University of East London’s Dockland’s campus.

Said Campbell-Whyte; “The Data Centre Bootcamp is free to the attendees thanks to the sponsorship of training company C-Net and of two of London’s biggest data centre employers: Telecity and Telehouse.

“Both Telecity and Telehouse run massive data centre complexes in Docklands and are hoping that at the end of the Bootcamp they will have some of their best interview candidates in years.”

For the members of the Data Centre Alliance (which represents individual data centre professionals and equipment manufacturers as well as the data centre operators) – their expectation is that the pilot 10-day intensive will turn most of the 21 attendees into highly employable recruits.

If successful as expected, Data Centre Bootcamp will be run on a much larger scale in London, throughout the UK, Europe and the Far East.

The 21 ‘Bootcamp-ees’ on today’s pilot are mostly out-of-work Londoners including graduates of UEL, Queen Mary and Middlesex Universities. Additionally, three are forces leavers, plus a PhD student from Leeds who sees the Data Centre Bootcamp as her best chance of getting into this exciting and challenging industry.

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Impact of cabling choices on data centre sustainability: Lee Funnell speaks at Data Centre Alliance Conference

The central role played by network cabling in the overall efficiency and performance of the data centre was a key topic at the Data Centre Alliance’s international conference on ‘Sustainable Data Centre Design and Operation’, held at the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds.

On the first day of the conference Lee Funnell CTP spoke on behalf of infrastructure expert Siemon and delivered a paper entitled “Critical architecture choices and the dramatic impact of the physical layer on data centre performance”. In his session Funnell explained the significant effects that the choice of Layer 1 architecture can have on both power and cooling.  A range of physical layer systems for the data centre were discussed and their impact evaluated in terms of energy efficiency within the context of total performance.

Delivering a thought provoking talk on an often overlooked physical aspect of data centre provision, Funnell discussed the arguments surrounding the use of any-to-all, versus top-of-rack and end-of-row patching.  He gave guidance on the medium and long-term implications of these (and other architecture variant) choices, plus prompted discussion on the implications for modularity and flexibility.

Data centres now contribute roughly 25 per cent of the world’s total IT CO2 emissions, according to the Data Centre Alliance (DCA) and this is described as growing rapidly, presenting governments and companies with an energy supply problem. As the independent not-for-profit organisation, run by and for the data centre industry, the DCA has a critical role to play in prompting proactive consideration of sustainable approaches to data centre provision and operation.

The first Data Centre Alliance conference sought to provide data centre professionals with reliable, independent information and expert advice, delivered by the leading experts in the industry.  With a multi-disciplinary scope, this included infrastructure, site selection, investment planning and cost analysis, project management and capacity management.

In association with the DCA, the University of Leeds hosted the two day conference on June 21 and 22, 2011. Papers were delivered on all aspects of data centre design and operation, with a particular emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability.

 

About Siemon

Established in 1903, Siemon is an industry leader specialising in the manufacture and innovation of high quality, high-performance copper and optical fibre network cabling solutions. With offices and partners throughout the world, Siemon offers a global service and has a reputation for delivering market leading performance with systems that maximise efficiency and return on investment.Siemon’s products include the most comprehensive suite of copper available, in both unshielded and shielded twisted-pair, for category 5e, category 6 (Class E), category 6A (Class EA) and category 7/7A (Class F/FA) standards performance.  The company’s optical fibre range includes both multimode and singlemode cabling systems.  In addition to cabling systems, the company has developed specific and specialised products for network provision in both enterprise and hosted data centre environments, often partnering with other global industry leaders in delivery of complete solutions for these markets.  With over 400 patents specific to structured cabling, Siemon Labs invests heavily in R&D and development of industry standards, underlining the company’s long-term commitment to its customers and the industry. www.siemon.com/uk  Follow Siemon on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/siemoncabling  Join Siemon on Facebook: http://www.siemon.com/go/facebook

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