Colt's London 3 data centre: inside the belly of the modular beast

TRP: What level of security does the data centre possess?

MG: It has a high level of security that's divided into seven layers. That ranges from the physical building to how you get in to identification. Equally, each section has its own level of security, so our office blocks will be separately secure from our data warehouses. Each individual hall is also secure, and because you're in a modular environment, you can have different levels of security for each different module.

So if you have a bank in one module, and they want to have their own ID readers, retina scans or finger print readers, you can. You obviously don't need that everywhere because not everybody needs it.

TRP: Aside from a high level of security, and the low latency factor that you mentioned earlier, what else is attracting financial institutions to the data centre?

MG: Colt is generally a business that has been addressing and making the financial market its main one. It started life specifically to give financial institutions and telecommunications fibre across London, and it built that out across Europe.

I think it goes beyond the physical facility. We have to build to meet their requirements, but it's also to do with the way it's operated, so the maintenance operations and certifications are going to be increasingly important. I think that financial institutions lead the way in making sure that the facilities they will put their equipment into have got that level of certification.

Completed colo

It's hungry for racks and data snacks

TRP: How has cloud computing affected how you approach building out the data centre?

MG: What we've noticed about the cloud trend is that it really has been reflected in the colocation trend, and that's related to flexibility. You need to have that underlying flexibility in the infrastructure to support the infrastructure that happens at the cloud and software level. It also changes the way of how some of the commercial aspects surrounding co-location data centres operate because it's pay-as-you-go - it's use on demand.

At the physical infrastructure level you can get to that point where you're saying that your commitment can flex, and it doesn't have to be fixed for a year, two years or five years like it used to be in the data centre world. You can actually start at one level and then change it as your compute requirement changes.

Of course, the cloud also has to live somewhere, and it lives in these types of places, but I think the phenomena of pay-as-you-use is very much now alive.

TRP: Can you take us through some of the general technical challenges of running a data centre in 2014?

GM: Hot days present particular challenges: it's one of the hottest days of the year now. You don't notice the difference inside a data centre, but that's because of the way it's being operated and because of the technology that's been put in place.

I think the flexibility piece is critical - you have to get it right - along withe the balance between supply and demand and making sure you're making investments at the right time. Those are the headline things - the market is still growing very strongly.

All of the data being created has to sit somewhere. The market's quite healthy, and it means that there's going to be continued growth. However, one of the challenges of running a data centre is that there's some out there that have been around for 15 years.

Refreshing those and extending their life for another five years while you manage to migrated the IT load out of the old data centres and into the new data centres like this one, that is definitely a data centre challenge that's out there.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.