By devstars 27 | November | 2013

Wipro, which has facilities around the world, has found a home in Wales which it says offers benefits beyond what it can see in London. But convincing clients to move is not always easy.

Convincing customers to take their data center operations outside of London is not always easy – especially when they are in the low-latency-reliant financial services industry. But the idea of latency being linked to location is not always correct, according to Wipro data center tower lead Roy White.

As the man who handles deals cross EMEA worth £50m and above for the IT consultancy, White speaks with many clients looking to consolidate sprawling or aging data center infrastructure by using a “white labelled” facility they can put their own branding on offered through a third-party provider. Recently Wipro – which operates 12 data centers globally - expanded its reach in London by choosing to open its own facility at Newport in Wales, inside NGD’s massive data center, which NGD claims is the largest in Europe.

The data center already housed some key customers such as BT, attracted by low power prices due to the facility’s access to renewable power delivered through its own substation and the huge amounts of space offered (the data center was built using the shell of an unfinished semiconductor originally designed by Korean company LG). White has been boosting the number of logos on NGD’s list, adding more clients, but the well hasn’t always been easy, he said. And much of this has been about concerns over latency.

High speed to Wales

NGD claims to have high-speed low latency connectivity through numerous providers connecting at the data center. But White says he has had to prove this to customers – especially potential ones in financial services - as he tempts them to move operations to Wales.

“This has been especially so when talking to financial services clients,” White says. “We actually had to go and get proof, through BT, that we could get 1.5ms to 3ms latency between London and Newport. The client was worried about the lag that might take place. But when you look at the cabling that comes in and out of the UK, when the guys sat in their offices in London hit send on an email it actually goes via Newport anyway. We proved out point.”

BT’s presence at the facility, for this very reason, has helped Wipro turn the tables on this latency notion. White says for the benefits, it is a point worth proving. He says Wipro can offer different services because it is inside such a large facility (at 750,000 sq ft)  with access to 90MW of low-cost power.

Tapping the region’s power

Before opening at NGD three years ago, where Wipro now has about 100 racks installed for customers and Wipro itself, it catered to the UK market through Sungard facilities in London and Leeds, in the North of the UK (it still operates out of these data centers).

“We had looked at building our own data center in the UK for a number of years. But through investigations we came across the opportunity to be inside NGD, which gives us a different class of facility ten we could have built,” White says. His decision, FOCUS later finds out, was about security (due to its birth as a semiconductor plant NGD is earthquake and bomb proof), low cost power and the ability to use large amounts of this.

“In London, many operators say as a client you don’t need to go past 6kW, but we had one client in Germany a few weeks ago that was pulling 15kW per sq ft because they were running quite a compressed infrastructure,” White says. “The operators in London have to be very careful about power, some will say you have a 6kW limit, and if you go over it you have 40 hours to turn it down otherwise they will switch it off.”

At NGD, White says he has access to as much power and space as is required – the facility’s total available power is 180MVA.

This is important when companies are consolidating data center environments, White says. Virtualization efforts alone can lead to much denser IT environments, and hence more power draw. For Wipro, it also allows flexibility to change environments as a customer requires, and in relatively short time spans. Wipro’s white labelling approach also provides full control over the environment for the customer, which doesn’t have to adhere to strict requirements around use of floor space and power.

Filling space

For years, it seemed like NGD had got off to a slow start. But it could be fair to say this only appeared to be the case because of the size of the facility it has had to fill – which it is doing as a modular – phased- build out.

Wipro’s customers inside NGD Wales include Npower and Northern Gas works, and other NGD customers are BT, CGI and IBM.

“NGD has already achieved occupancy levels on a scale comparable to filling to capacity of several large London Docklands area data centers,” NGD’s chairman Simon Taylor claims.

This week NGD announced the completion of what is its 11th data hall at the facility, which can support several hundred racks in a shared, caged or private configuration.

Known locally as the Welsh White elephant, due to the historical expense laid out by LG at the cost of Welsh jobs, it seems location is now turning the facility’s fortunes around. But as White points out, this doesn’t mean challenges around perception do not exist.

Penny Jones - DatacenterDynamics