On my mind

On my mind

Andrew Gilbert
Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert, Managing Director of Node4, tells us the top five issues in his mind right now.

1. Power/Space: The biggest challenge for data centres at the moment is that people who want higher density racks are consolidating equipment. Space isn’t the main issue, power is the biggest challenge, specifically the balance between power and space and the power that an individual rack can draw. People’s requirements are increasing so it is true that the allocation of power is becoming more of a problem than the actual physical space itself.

In London, it’s a big challenge for most people. It’s generally overpopulated from a power perspective and there are a lot of data centres in London fighting for power as a result. What’s happening is that people are demanding higher prices for the data centre space because of power. So that’s an obstacle for providers in the London area but because of the locations of our data centres, we are at an advantage in this respect.

2. Data centre location: We have ambitious plans to expand the number of data centres we operate and will be opening one in Leicester soon. When we are looking at locations for new centres, the availability and cost of power is a key issue. We still find that customers buy space regionally based on the distance from their own offices – that’s the approach of the businesses we speak to. We see that the ratio of people wanting closer geographic access is far greater than the people that are happy to have a set-up where distance isn’t an issue.


I don’t see that changing in the short term and although it might change in the long term, we are currently seeing there’s still a demand based on people wanting their data centres to be local to them. Technology isn’t the barrier here; the issue is that people want the infrastructure to be within an hour of where they are. These will remain important issues when we think about the location of the next data centre.

3. Uptake of cloud computing: Our platform is a hybrid platform and we have designed it as private with a shared infrastructure, which helps to alleviate some of the security concerns. The demand for cloud-based infrastructure has gained a lot more traction in the last six months and more people are adopting it as the technology evolves.

A lot of the vendors and manufacturers are working hard to find better ways of helping the service providers to deliver a great service and increase security. As more customers adopt cloud services, vendors will get on board and the features, security and development of those products will improve as a result. Only then will we get to the point where we have a solution that is widely accepted. At the moment, we’re in the infancy of that but we will move towards that solution once the technology and acceptance from the customer’s perspective picks up.

We still have a way to go and there’s a chance that through 2012 and 2013, we will see a bigger increase in the adoption of cloud computing. According to market analysts IDC, global cloud computing spend will be £23 billion this year alone – four times the overall IT industry rate of growth.

4. Virtualisation: The ROI of virtualisation should be simple to achieve if people are realistic about looking at the total cost of ownership. There are lots of benefits to be gained from virtualisation such as power and cooling reduction, which means energy efficiency gains. There are also gains in management support, hardware maintenance and support, support resource, technical resource and many other advantages. It depends how an organisation looks at ROI but ultimately, for an organisation I think virtualisation will be adopted on a widespread basis. People won’t run an operating system on a single server anymore because it’s just not efficient to do that. Virtualisation is allowing people to gain the full potential of one piece of hardware. That in itself will reduce capex, running costs and/or support costs.

It’s the SME market where virtualisation vendors are aiming their products and it will be where the biggest uptake will need to be. SMEs will be where the mainstream is. It has been adopted by enterprise for many years already but with cost constraints and worries about whether they can justify it financially, it was difficult for smaller companies to do the same up until recently. The main products that provide the services such as VMware have been prohibitively expensive so it was hard to justify that spend and make it stack up but now there is a whole raft of options such as Microsoft Hyper-V, it’s becoming more cost-effective for SMEs to deploy.

5. Disaster recovery: One advantage of virtualisation, which will be key for businesses, is disaster recovery. Many people are yet to realise the reliance they have on their IT infrastructure. It’s becoming a hot topic now but it hadn’t been taken seriously by a lot of companies in the past. It should become more apparent and engrained on people’s mind about their need to look at alternatives in the scenario where they have some form of disaster. Some people still aren’t taking it seriously enough but that attitude will have to change and people are looking at ways of implementing more stringent DR processes.

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