Cloud datacentre Engineer virtualisation

Join the revolution – the software defined datacentre #DCrevolution

uninterruptable businessThere are two phrases that I thought I’d banned from this blog some time ago: “cloud” and “smart phone”. “Smart phone” is still banned but I’ve had to reluctantly use “cloud” as it is in such common usage and any replacement term is longer than the word cloud itself (phone is the replacement term for smart phone which makes the latter a non starter).

A search for cloud on brings up lots of posts that discuss it one way or another. Although it’s been a trendy topic for a while now it’s amazing how many businesses don’t use the cloud. For example Microsoft reckon that 85% of businesses don’t yet virtualise their server infrastructure. Also the market for dedicated servers is still very much all about solid bits of metal and hard drives.

This means that despite the term cloud feeling almost so old it’s about time we got a new one (cf “Unified Communications” replacing “VoIP for Business”1) there is still a huge amount of mileage left in the market. It is still very much  emerging.

With that in mind I’m having a bit of a Timico bash in London next week where we will be talking about cloud services for UK based organisations

–          It’s about a revolution in how IT infrastructure is produced, consumed and maintained

–          It’s about the need for UK data centre sovereignty

–          It’s about the importance of quality connectivity to hosted virtualised infrastructure

To add some pizzaz to the evening I’ve got Joe Baguley, CTO of VMware coming along to do a bit of a talk. Joe is a top banana when it comes to talking about cloud infrastructure. His talk is entitled  “Container Ships, Kittens, Chickens & Coffee Shops”. You know it makes sense. We will also be chatting about what Timico is doing with VMware.

The party is at a super cool venue called the Ice Tank (pun intended) in Covent Garden. Because I’m a good guy I have some tickets reserved for blog readers. The event starts at 6.30 on Tuesday 23rd April – that’s next Tuesday. If you want to come along let me know here. There’s also more info about the gig here.

Please only come along if this is of genuine interest. I don’t want any time wasters, costermongers, itinerant salesmen, rear admirals, unemployed actors or general low life:). Most of the attendees will be IT Directors/CIOs etc. Attendees will also be able to trial Timico Virtual Data Centre services FOC for their businesses.

1 also feels as if it’s about time we found a replacement phrase for UC.

Business Cloud xaas

Which cloud services do you use for work?

April is normally associated with rain so I’m having a bit of a cloudy1 month. Other than the services we host ourselves in our own private cloud Timico uses three main external cloud based services: ServiceNow, and OneSource. I guess we also access tools on remote portals for BT Wholesale and Openreach which could at a push be categorised as “cloud” based services. I also personally use Eventbrite when I organise industry bashes such as the Xmas party and my industry dinner debates. also uses the whole suite of Google services and in order of level of use I also have Microsoft/Skydrive and Dropbox accounts. I also have an Apple ID but it doesn’t get used much.

I tend to mix work and play – I only have one laptop which gets used for both.

What I am interested in though is how you, dear reader, use the cloud for work. Are you on Google Apps or Office365? What other cloud services do you use and what is your experience of using them. Do you have problems with outages? How do you get around these problems?

Have you taken the plunge and gone totally cloud based? What size of business are you? My impressions are that it is easy for small businesses to go into the cloud and for very large companies the business case is compelling but not so easy for those in the middle. Is this right? Does the global nature of the cloud give you a problem in your line of business?

Answers either on a postcard stating point of view or by leaving a comment.



1 Of course it’s not meant to be bloomin’ freezing but I’m sorry I have no control over that – if any of you do then for goodness sake get on and sort it 🙂

broadband Business Cloud ofcom

How the cloud is changing old business practices

an original picture of a cloud

Broadband cloud services make their mark at Olnincolnshire conference

Gave a talk this time last week at the The Onlincolnshire Digital Conference (#godigital2013) chatting about what sort of online or broadband cloud services our customers start to use after they have FTTC installed. I was not the only one. Rob Wilmot of BCS Agency (some of you will remember him as founder of Freeserve) and Stephen Parry of LloydParry told us about the cloud services they used in running their businesses.

Something that Stephen said really stuck in my mind. He uses a SAAS product called FreshBooks for his accounting, invoicing and expense management. What’s more he uses it on the move and recounted a story of a visit to a client in Frankfurt. After having lunch with the client Stephen photographed the receipt and loaded it into his expenses folder using the FreshBooks iPhone app.

After finishing his day’s consultancy and heading back to the airport he invoiced the customer from his iPhone, including the cost of the lunch (no such thing as a free one). One assumes that the customer pays electronically by bank transfer. Wham bang job done.

This is the future.

Business Cloud google

Google Docs is down – long live Google Docs?

google docs is downGoogle Docs is down. This is not good news for people who rely solely on the cloud for their services. I wonder what the likes of the do in these circumstances. They have deadlines to meet. Presumably their actual newspaper publishing is independent of Google  Docs. Be interested in understanding people’s strategy for coping.

Btw those opeing lines sound very dramatic – Google Docs is down – almost like “the king is dead” but different. I heard about it at approx 14.20 today. Lets see how long the outage is. I doubt I’ll be looking when it comes back up but if anyone notices could they please let me know.


atb, Tref

Cloud End User gadgets

Uber cool NetApp Fan

Just watch this – uber cool USB fan, fair play to NetApp.

Brought it back in a goodie bag from a recent NetApp workshop and only just noticed over the weekend what happens when you switch it on when one of the kids pointed it out to me. Not much call for cooling in our house at this time of year.

Cloud datacentre Engineer

Cool stuff – Timico datacentre vids

Some pretty cool vids showing off our datacentre. Also pretty cool landing page. Come and visit. Nuff said.

Business Cloud virtualisation

The Psychological Challenge of the Cloud

Big platforms such as Google (Drive), Apple (iCloud) and latterly Microsoft (SkyDrive) are driving customers towards cloud services. The move to use these resources is almost certainly inevitable, for the consumer. The constraints are largely down to cost and privacy concerns. For the business user replace the word “privacy” with “security”.

I buy into the future. I have almost universal connectivity, at a price. I also have a growing amount of data being stored on my laptop. My data is currently backed up to two external hard drives, one at home and one in the office. The time is fast approaching where the laptop will run out of hard drive space. It is only a year old so I’m not going to replace it just to get a bigger hard drive.

It’s getting close to decision time on a cloud based strategy.

Business datacentre

Help provided for 2e2 customers

Trefor Davies2e2 customers – do you need help? If so contact me or Timico direct for independent advice on how best to relocate your services.

Some might think that this sounds like an unashamed advert and they would be right.  We are all in business to win customers and succeed. No point in being shy about it. We are an award winning communications provider and one of the fastest growing in the UK over the last few years.

So if you used 2e2 for colo, connectivity, VoIP, minutes, hosting, mobiles or any other service (or all of the above – we do the lot) get in touch and we will bust a gut to get you sorted.

For the general readership who might not know what I’m talking about take a look here.

Talk soon.

datacentre Engineer virtualisation

242GHz processor with 767GB RAM? oh ok

john milner - top timico applications engineer
Here at Timico’s Newark datacentre we have just expanded our main VMware cluster with a couple more Cisco UCS B200 blade servers (see earlier post ). The cluster is now running at a whooping 242Ghz of Compute power with 767.51GB of RAM! Impressive ou quoi?

It’s a bit mind blowing if your experience with buying computers is based on time spent in PC World staring at specifications trying to decide whether to pay the extra few quid for 2GB more RAM and a slightly faster processor.

This is just one of the many virtualisation clusters needed to run an ISP and another step forward in Timico’s P2V campaign – onwards and upwards. In fact it’s onwards and downwards when it comes to things like data storage space colocation rackspace, power and of course cost. On the back of this work we have just been able to cancel two cages in Docklands datacentres which will save us £100k a year. That’s significant. That’s half a million quid over five years – that’s very significant.

Virtualisation is allowing us to better manage and control our systems so we can always provide the best possible performance to the services we offer. If you’re a Timico customer you may have noticed the improved performance on services such as hosted web and email.  This is because these services have been virtualised with the accompanying improvement in performance.

Gimme a shout if you want to chat more about this or to come and see it in action for yourself. Info courtesy of that fine engineer John Milner again :)) (sorry if this is embarrassing John but you are a good guy 🙂 ). Check out the Enterprise Private cloud page at Timico.

Apps Cloud Engineer virtualisation

EMC datadomain compresses 103TB of VM backups to 6.8TB using deduplication

john milner - top timico applications engineerJohn Milner is one of our top systems engineers specialising in Virtualisation. Over the last year he has been running an experiment to see the potential of using an EMC datadomain as the primary repository for VM backups. He has approximately 200 VMs (150 Linux and 50 MS Windows) backing up nightly to this appliance. What is amazing is that this appliance has managed to reduce nearly 103TB of production VM backups to 6.8TB using de-duplication and compression!

The below chart shows the actual data (blue) growing rapidly compared with the disk used to store this information (purple).

This allows us to retain data for much longer periods of time than usually possible. John’s next experiment will be to try the same using Veeam Backup and Replication as a comparison.  It’ll obviously take a while to get the results but I’ll let you know when we have some numbers to show.

deduplication in actionCheck out the Timico Data Vault page here.

Archived Business datacentre

Importance of staying in touch – with your customer

Trefor Davies Chris Darke and Martin Kelmanson One of the things I like about working at Timico is the opportunity to meet and chat with customers. If you don’t talk to your customers you never find out how you are doing. Also if a business is going to stay current it needs feedback on what interests its customer base in the new technology world.

This week I met with Chris Darke and Martin Kelmanson of the British Medical Association. We had a good session and it was only as we were getting ready to leave the room that we realised that one the wall was an endorsement from the BMA for the service provided by Timico. We joked that this was regularly changed based on which customer was in the room at the time :).

The pic taken by the excellent Katie Nicholas is of me Chris and Martin. We are dressed for the Artic conditions that lay outside the comfort and safety of the Timico datacentre in Newark.

That’s all folks…

Apps Cloud End User mobile apps

Windows8 Windows8 Windows8 Windows8 short review

Trefor DaviesHad my first play with Windows 8 yesterday. I now have two family members with the OS and it is going to be unavoidable. There have been some really scathing reviews and this prompted me to take a look myself. I’m not, btw, going to link to any reviews. A search for Windows8 reviews comes up with, wait for it, 1,120,000,000 results!

Because Windows8 is designed particularly for use with a touch screen I took mine home from the office so that we could see it in its best light. With the billions of people giving Windows8 free publicity there is no need to go into any huge detail.

I liked the User Interface although our feeling was that it was definitely better with a touch screen than without.

I noted the ability to use the PC in either online or offline mode. Good I thought. Then I realised that I would have to sign up for a Microsoft account. Hold on a minute!  Then I thought (I’ve clearly been thinking a lot lately) hey, I’ve got a Google account because I use their services, I have a Samsung account because I use their phones. There is no harm in having a Microsoft account if I am using their kit. Having a Microsoft account will let me synch my settings across all my Microsoft devices (current standing count = 1).

This becomes particularly important as to me the business ecosystem looks increasingly likely to be moving to a fight between Microsoft and Google with Apple playing only a peripheral boutique role, just like it always used to be.

For me to say that the world’s biggest company is not going to have much presence on the business desktop sounds somewhat precocious. When you think about it Apples’ phenomenal growth is centred around iPad and iPhone and not their desktop devices.

Aside from in their traditional media luvvy market and the type of geek community that reads this blog an Apple desktop product is not something that the IT department would normally support. For one thing a Mac is a lot more expensive than a laptop/PC using Micrsosoft software (however much we like to whinge about how expensive that software is).

In fact if I’m going to get the best out of Windows8 I really need to be using it at the desktop and on mobile so watch this space. 2013 is shaping up to be the most interesting yet on the technology front. #techtyrekickersrus

PS If you’re wondering about the title of this post I just thought it sounded good – rolls off the tongue.

Cloud End User phones

External SD card or no external SD card – Google Nexus4

Trefor DaviesJust scanned through a review of the Google Nexus 4 Android handset in the Grauniad. One of the things that caught my attention was the decision to not support an external SD card. Apple has lead the way with doing away with SD cards on the basis that they wanted everyone to do everything through the cloud.

The argument for a removable drive is that you can easily move data on and off the handset. My Galaxy S3 does support an external (micro) SD card but I have to say the only time I ever remove it is when I change handsets which, repair jobs aside, is less frequent than once a year.

Proponents of removable storage also remind us that we are using more and more space for photos and games. The former is certainly true for me but my needs would be accommodated with a large enough internal storage in the first place. What currently happens is that I run out of space on the phone (say) and have to adjust the settings to save media to the SD card which is a manual step that should be unnecessary.

All my pics are automatically backed up the the cloud using Instant Upload over WiFi. Once Instant Upload has done its stuff I then also shift them off the phone via USB to my laptop and once a month (ish) back up to one or two external hard drives. I’m not sure I’ll ever rely totally on the cloud for the backup.

So on balance I agree that we no longer need to support external SD cards as long as the phone itself has a suitably large capacity in the first place which, considering the low cost of memory, should not be difficult. Any growth in storage usage is likely to be down to a change in habits that accompany the use of a new handset so I can’t see that running out of space should be a problem – just make sure you have enough from the off.

Whaddaya think?

Business media virtualisation

The last post!? Hell no:)

Trefor DaviesIt’s Friday, the last day of term. Maybe the last day ever as we await our fate and for the Mayan prediction of apocalypse to kick in. I sit here contemplating this fate, reflecting on a life that has passed by at blurred speeds governed by a constant of Einsteinian proportions.

I have a cup of tea on my desk, a comfort as I gaze at the horizon wondering whether the clouds I see are the innocent tip of a stormier gathering. My twitter stream is filled with observations, concerns and contemptuous noises of disaster.

But hey, it is indeed as I said, the last day of term and Christmas holidays have finally arrived yay. I turn my thoughts to more joyous considerations. Another year gone, and although it has been a tough one, another year of growth.

There has been plenty to talk about business-wise. At the start of the year we opened a new data centre to much fanfare together with a wonderful new Network Operations Centre facility. We spent a lot of money on a core network upgrade and now have a spanking new Juniper core that is going to allow us to provide a multitude of new services in the future.

Virtualisation has played a big part in our year. 75% of our infrastructure is now virtualised using VMWare and we now have our first Private Cloud customers. We also introduced our eVault hosted/centralised server backup solution and have been very busy both training existing staff and adding new experts to the team – I’m talking more VCP5 CCNP and MCITP for those that understand acronyms. On the network front we also extended our carrier relationships with links into Talk Talk and O2 Wholesale.

Awards and prizes have come our way. Winners of Best Unified Comms Solutions at the ITSPA Awards and Winner of Excellence in Innovation at the Nottinghamshire Best Business Awards. We also made it as  finalists in loads of awards including Business of the Year at the Nottinghamshire Best Business Awards.

On a customer industry front we hosted the COMIT (Construction Opportunities In Mobile IT) meeting in September. We have a lot of customers in the construction industry – it’s an area of the business that is building nicely:).

In February we acquired Redwood Telecommunications Limited who have not only added some great people to the team but a fantastic capability and knowledge in the burgeoning Unified Comms market.

Timico has been in the news a lot in 2013 being covered in at least ten articles in the mainstream press including the Telegraph, Guardian and the BBC. On a personal note I have also appeared a number of times on BBC Radio including The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4, on 5 Live Breakfast with Nicky Campbell and numerous local BBC radio stations. I also gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee for the Draft Communications Data Bill. The nature of this Bill is now being reconsidered following inputs from many stakeholders opposed to its original form.

Readership of has also risen this year. In the January world record attempt it received 9,449 visitors leaving 5,455 comments in 24 hours. The blog has nearly 50,000 visitors that have returned more than once during the year and around 20,000 unique regular readers.

All in all it’s been a good year and I’m sure that everyone is now looking forward to a well earned break. Have a great Christmas and I look forward to engaging with you in 2013:)


PS I was thinking of signing off with “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish”  but there is still no sign of the apocalypse. Must have made a mistake in their calcs somewhere!

C ya…

Business Cloud datacentre

What to look for when choosing a data centre

the new Timico Network Operations Centre in Newark has gone liveA data centre’s a data centre isn’t it? Power, aircon, security and diverse connections in and out of the building? Pick a location and a Tier level – 1,2,3,4 to determine the resiliency and cost. Throw in some green credentials and your uncle’s name is Bob!

Well you could put it like that. You wouldn’t be looking at the whole picture. Before building our Newark data centre we at Timico did a fair bit of market research. We looked at the needs of our customer base and what was available in terms of infrastructure technology that fitted the bill. The latter ranged from getting all the electromechanical bits right and ensuring that the cloud story was absolutely up there. When talking cloud we are talking the connectivity, storage processing and virtualisation infrastructure.

There was one piece of the story that we found compelling. This was how to make sure

chromebook Cloud End User

ChromeOS – quick play

I realise that this is of little interest to most of you but I’m having a play with ChromeOS. I have it running on a virtual machine on my Dell laptop. It’s a bit slow but that is going to be because of the VM rather than the OS itself and certainly not due to the lack of bandwidth. Also every now and again it crashes, notionally due to lack of memory.

Initial impressions are good though it’s not perfect. For example in order to try out the online music app it asks you for your credit card info even though the app is free. Apple does this which I hate. I have subsequently found that you can bypass the Apple credit card capture page by not filling any of the fields and clicking “next”. Google won’t let you get away with this which I don’t like.

I have to fill out this form in order for Google to tell me whether the music streaming is “available in my country”. A simple “googling” tells me it is only available in the good ole US of A so it is a bit of a waste of my time and certainly irritating that a global organisation such as Google would have a product that was restricted to that country.

Next I tried the image editor and was a little disappointed to see it had pretty limited editing tools – crop, autofix, contrast and brightness. I need to be able to resize for the web as well as crop. Still it was easy to find a photo to edit. I just stuck one in Google Drive and hey presto it was there online. I use IRFanview on the laptop which doesn’t seem to be available for ChromeOS.  There do seem to be lots of photo editing apps in the chrome Web Store though so that is probably ok.

I have a good feeling about ChromeOS. At £229 a Chromebook is not expensive to try out though I do have an issue with having too many gadgets at any one time. I want to play with ChromeOS, Windows8 and Windows8 running on a Nokia Lumia 920 over 4G. It isn’t manageable though to have so many gadgets, especially as you have to sign up for a 24 month 4G contract with EE to lay your hands on the Lumia. My friend Kory raves about the Samsung Chromebook though doesn’t recommend it as a primary system yet.

The general Google ecosystem really is heading in the right direction. I’m building up to a bit of a post about the Google versus Microsoft battle for the desktop with a specific slant on Unified Communications. It will have to wait for another day though. It needs more time.

So long…

Business Cloud datacentre

Nobody around here complaining about the weather

cooling plant monitoring screen in Timico's Newark data centreWe often hear people complaining when it rains – great weather – if you’re a duck. Well it’s stopped raining here in Newark although I understand the river Trent is still running high and I see from Facebook that trains are delayed due to flooding.

It’s bloomin’ cold out though. Staff arriving for work are wrapped up well, scarves around their faces, hands thrust firmly in pockets. It may come as a surprise to many of you that in this freezing cold weather the old “duck” saying has a modern day equivalent which is “great weather – if you’re a data centre”.

Uh? 🙂

Business virtualisation

The complex weave of the modern IT world

Cisco certificationsCisco, as you may know, has introduced a new set of professional technical certifications based around the data centre. This is a natural move. Cisco already has Voice, Security, Routing and Switching and Design certification streams and the Data Centre is a big part of its future.

At Timico we use a Cisco data centre fabric with UCS blades running on top of EMC storage. On that infrastructure we run VMware. We also run Microsoft applications, use Cisco at the Edge of the network and Juniper in the core. Most of our ISP server estate is Linux based.

That’s an exciting technology mix. It’s also a lot of areas of specialisation and not only are our engineers often doing training courses but we are always on the lookout for specific talent, especially in the virtualisation world.

Where is this conversation leading. I guess I’m concluding that it will be increasingly the case that our customers will not have the right mix of skills in these technology areas to be able to effectively develop solutions for their own business. The role of an IT department, apart from servicing their own stakeholders, will be more and more strategic focusing on the selection management of their supplier partners.

Cloud competitions End User

Mugs mugs glorious mugs and colo – fantastic offer

You find me in a playful mood. This is despite the fact that my rear driver side tyre picked up a nail this morning and I had to divert via Tanvic Tyres in Newark to get the puncture fixed. Tanvic are a customer of ours and did a great job.

They made my wait easy. There was a convenient coffee machine in reception, a PC offering me free access to the internet and the whole job was done for the really good value of £17. Use them.

The only downside was that I had to sit through the Jeremy Kyle Show. You have to like that kind of thing to want to watch it & I felt sorry for the bloke manning the desk, exposed to it day in day out. He didn’t seem to mind. A happy place to work 🙂

Anyway I digress. It feels a little like the Two Ronnies show where Ronnie Corbett told a joke from his chair and continuously got sidetracked. Look it up on YouTube if you are below a certain age. They were funny stories. Classic show.  They don’t make them like they used to.

The other great show (while we are digressing) was Morecambe and Wise. They were unmissable.  My kids still like to watch them today. A couple of years ago a new friend came to our house for the first time. His name is Ervin Nagy. He is a famous Hungarian Concert pianist believe it or not and he now lives in Lincoln. We showed him the Andre Preview sketch where Eric tries to play Grieg’s Piano Concerto by Grieg. Ervin was in stitches. Their comedy transcended language and culture.

fantastic Timico mug colo giveawaySo how does any of this have anything to do with mugs and colo. It doesn’t really. It’s just the preamble to my latest and greatest mug giveaway offer. No competition this time. Just straight talking business.

I am offering a free Timico mug (the photo inset shows the mug with a branded Timico pen which I am also willing to throw in – just ask) to anyone buying colo from us between now and the end of 2012. It doesn’t matter how much colo you buy but it has to be new business. As an added extra I will chuck in a free blog post on a subject of your choice for the first five orders.

The colo will be in our spanking new data centre in Newark. If you want to come and see it let me know and I’ll organise a visit. Maybe you need some DR space or have run out of room in your existing rack or are exploring colocation for the first time. 24×7 manned Network Operation Centre? Look no further. We are the colo kids.

That landing page link includes a phone number to call or a button to press for a chat. Let me know when you have placed an order. I’ll send you the mug and pen and we can chat about the subject of the blog post. It can be on any subject, within reason and decency though you will have to trust me with the final copy. There’s also a mug for anyone referring a customer to us. Again, let me know you have done it.

Just a bit of fun. You know it makes sense 🙂

Cloud End User mobile apps

Delighted shepherds and Clerkenwell Screws!

The great thing about mobile phone cameras is that they give you the opportunity to take spur of the moment photos when you see something nice or fun or interesting. Often I am not quick enough “on the draw”. Yesterday I saw a shop called Clerkenwell Screws Ltd. What a great name I thought. I envisaged a tweet saying “need a screw in Clerkenwell?” with the photo attached. I was on a bus en route to a customer meeting but couldn’t get through my phone security quickly enough (ie tap in my pin number) before we had moved on.

Probably a good job I didn’t get the camera out in time really.

So this afternoon my office filled with a marvelous light and I stood up to look at the sky. What a wonderful sky. I got the camera out and captured the moment – the sun didn’t move as quickly as the bus (though there wasn’t much in it!) The camera technology doesn’t really do the sight justice but I leave you to decide for yourself. The photo is entitled “Clouds over Newark at dusk in November” by Trefor Davies.

Wonderful sky at dusk over Newark

Btw you can check out Clerkenwell Screws here. I don’t think they have a website.

Red sky at night shepherd’s delight. That’s all folks…

Cloud Engineer virtualisation

Think global act local – vmware survey

vmware surveyI’m not an angry person but some things can certainly irritate the heck out of me. Today it is survey forms. It’s not concept of filling in a survey – I don’t mind doing that sometimes, especially if I have a particularly good or bad experience.

I should explain:

I just downloaded VMware  player for my laptop. I got the usual message “this may take several minutes” and for once it did take several minutes – usually the installation is quite quick regardless of the message. Coincidentally a survey from VMware popped up on the screen as I was wondering whether o believe the message and go off and do something else in the meantime.

I started to fill in the survey, it was a simple one, and fortunately for VMware the installation  finished just as I came to the bit about rating the experience. I didn’t really have anything bad to say. They warned me it might take some time and it did.

What annoyed me though was the fact that when it came to selecting my country of residence the name at the top of the list was the good ole United States of Americay. Now hear this VMware. It doesn’t do anything for me having the USA as the first name on the list. It just it just makes me irritated to think that you, an American company think it is more important for your countrymen to have life made easier for them but not anyone else.

Either they need to have every country in alphabetical order or, more cleverly, their survey system could recognize the country in which the survey was being completed and push that one to the top. It isn’t difficult.

If you want to be a global company you need to change your culture accordingly. Simples.

Business datacentre

To whom it may concern

"legitimate" spam exampleThere is nothing more annoying than being spammed. Anti spam software is pretty good these days and I rarely get spam spam if you know what I mean.

Spam spam is the bad stuff trying to sell me  viagra, handbags, penis enlargements etc etc etc.

Unfortunately these days the spam spam problem has been replaced with “legitimate” spam. This is the stuff sent by genuine companies who have bought my name off some database.

Over the last 24 hours I have had emails from Apposite Technology Parters (que?), News, Retail Week Jobs, OFFTEK, easyjet, BLiNQ networks, Sparks, SAP, Telecoms Tech and others. I go through phases of unsubscribing from mails I get sent but it’s like pushing water uphill. The cat is well and truly out of the bag.

Most of them I can just ignore. There isn’t much point in marking the sender as junk because it usually comes from some non descript mail server address. The ones that are really annoying come with Subject line content such as “Your enquiry” or “Re: ” There should be a website where we can name and shame senders of such emails.

That’s all – had to get it off my chest.

So long.

PS Akismet is brilliant at catching spam comments in wordpress blogs. I’ve just looked and I had 2,600 items caught in the spam folder. The flavour of the day seems to be ugh boots, nike gear, longchamp bags, louis vuitton and other such dross.

Cloud Engineer storage backup & dr

Human Face of Big Data launch today #hfobd

screenshot from android version of #hfobd#hfobd "trust"Attended the EMC sponsored launch of The Human Face of Big Data this morning and picked up some data:

Any kid born in 2012 will generate more data than all the information that mankind has ever generated. In his or her first year he will have generated more info than is currently held in Smithsonian Institute and 10% of all photos ever taken were taken in 2011.

At that point I stopped writing. People spout so many facts about data these days that it starts to lose its impact. Some numbers are so big they almost become pointless.

There are plenty of good and bad uses of big data and we as a society need to think how we go about minimising the risk of the latter.

Coincidentally a taxi driver yesterday told me that he had had four laptops left in his cab in seven years. There are apparently over 19,000 registered black cabs in London. If he was representative that suggests that on average 10,857.141  laptops are left in taxis every year.

I wonder how much sensitive data was on those laptops and how many of them were unsecured?

I’ve not really told you anything about the project – check it out here The Human Face of Big Data. I downloaded the app and entered my data. You can look at and filter the (anonymized) global data set and compare results for different demographics.

Apparently the Apple app isn’t ready yet but don’t worry – Apple usually manages to catch up eventually.

As a footnote, I am interested in exploring Big Data over the next few millennia (think big). If anyone wants to discuss projects drop me a line.

1 No arguing, I have total editorial control:)

Apps Engineer virtualisation

Meet John Milner VCP5-DV, MCTS, MCSA+M/S, MCSE+S, MCITP: EMA/SA, A+, S+, eater of cake

John Milner and the VMware monster cake - click for a closer picJohn Milner started with us earlier this year to help with our virtualisation programme. He has a string of great qualifications and has now just passed his VMware Certified Professional – Datacenter Virtualization examination.

We are proud of him and glad that he has come to work at Timico. He has made an instant impact. He’s one of those guys you can chuck a job at knowing it will get done in a totally professional manner. We seem to be very lucky with the quality of our engineering staff all round.

In keeping with the cake making tradition we have here at Timico John has brought one in for everyone to help him celebrate his success. It says much about the character of the man that he admitted that the cake was actually baked by his sister. After all you can’t be good at everything:)

I of course am on a health kick and will not be partaking. It has been made easier by the fact that I’m sat at home waiting for a film crew to turn up but more on that later…

Well done John & keep up the great work :))

Just for the record & any SEO (smiley face) I repeat his qualifications here for your perusal: VCP5-DV, MCTS, MCSA+M/S, MCSE+S, MCITP: EMA/SA, A+, S+, eater of cake

PS John – sorry if this is a somewhat personally embarrassing post having nice things said about you but credit where credit is due 🙂

Cloud End User google

Dropbox or Google+

I’ve noticed I keep being given free space extensions in Dropbox. I’ve just realised all my photos are being uploaded there. That means I’m uploading to both Google+ and Dropbox, using wifi only.

I don’t mind this as long as Dropbox keeps extending the space. I’m not aware they provide unlimited storage aka G+ but hey. I did find a real use for Dropbox recently when my S3 battery stopped charging. The USB port was only intermittently visible & I couldn’t move files across the the laptop.  I shifted some “important” stuff into Dropbox before the battery finally went and I now still have those files. I also used Google Drive.

It probably doesn’t make sense to use both but for the moment it’s easy enough to do and I haven’t hit any problems.

That’s all…

datacentre Engineer Net ofcom social networking

Power to the portaloo – bog standard networking in a (ElectroMagnetic) Field @emfnoc @emfcamp

EMFCamp network planning diagLast year I dreamt of holding a tweetup over a weekend in a field. I booked a large scout camp but the project didn’t get anywhere because it needed connectivity to make it a success and I couldn’t for one reason and another make it happen.

A couple of weeks ago you may have noticed something called EMF Camp appearing in your Twitter stream. People I knew were going and blow me down if it doesn’t turn out to be the type of event I had been thinking of.  I couldn’t go myself but Nat Morris, who ran the networking for the event, has sent me some notes of the tech setup.

Nat’s notes are a great read and I have left them by and large unadulterated. I have to thank him for sending me a wonderful cornucopia of facts and links – every link is worth clicking on. You especially need to make sure you read the camp_network pdf – it has drawing in it showing how they planned the network even down to the distances between portaloos for the Ethernet cable runs. Some knowledge of data networking would help you understand some of the technical terms here but the first link to Zoe Kleinman’s BBC report gives a great overview.

Nat writes:

Here are some details about the internet setup for EMFCamp which took place last weekend at Pineham Park in Milton Keynes. The BBC turned up on Saturday afternoon and recorded a nice piece about the event, you can see my stomach about halfway through when they film in the NOC tent…

Some slides from Will and my presentation at the end of the event about the power and internet are here…. (50MB warning)…

We were lucky that the site is only 2.8 miles away from the Pulsant DataCentre in Milton Keynes –  what was formerly BlueSquare MK. Brian Ross and Nick Ryce got the wheels in motion inside Pulsant and arranged with Matt Lovell the CTO for them to sponsor us. I cheekily asked for a couple of U of rackspace in MK and some in their Telehouse East rack plus a 1Gb/s layer 2 circuit between the two, I was expecting them to say no, but they were fine with the idea!

So back in June we started our network building placing a Cisco 7200 with NPE G2 in Telehouse and another in MK, we borrowed a /19 of v4 + /48 of v6 and AS number from Chaos Computer Club in Germany, meaning we didn’t have to NAT any campers.

We had a BGP transit feed from Pulsant in MK, plus Goscomb in Telehouse, along with a temporary connection to the LONAP peering network for v4+v6 plus multicast.

The costs for providing internet access to campers came in at around 5.8k, apart from 10 boxes of cat5 all of this was for the last mile between the MK DC and the campsite, everything was provided free or in kind from sponsors. RapidWireless from Liverpool (Richard Porter) loaned us a pair of DragonWave Horizon Compact units – we got a temporary OFCOM license for the 18ghz link which ran at 385mbit/s full duplex. As a backup we bought a pair of Ubiquiti Nanobridge M5’s, these were installed but we never pushed any traffic over them, they were just there in case something happened to the primary link.

Onsite we borrow a tent / marquee from scout group, the tent was made in 1953, made a 25quid to borrow it! Some pics…

Our onsite rack / data centre, housing dual core routers, wireless controllers, along with various servers:

Around the site we deployed a resilient OSPF ring, switches were stored in portaloos, along with power distro units – we used the German term Datenklo for these, meaning ‘data toilet’:

Someone even colocated a Raspberry Pi along with a 3tb USB hard disc in one!

Campers left their cables outside and then either tweeted or text us and a NOC monkey would come out and connect them up. Wifi AP’s were deployed all over the site

We limited tent connections to 100Mbit, so a single user couldn’t saturate our upstream.

Had some nice feedback!

Our infra team twitter account is @emfnoc, the general camp one is @emfcamp

End of Nat’s stuff

A huge thanks to Nat for sharing this with me. The whole event was clearly a massive joint effot by lots of people and looks to have been a great success  I look forward to attending the next one in person.

datacentre End User

#rebelwithoutacause and other lyrical waxings

There’s a definite change in the air. The short British summer is coming to a close, people are squeezing in their last bits of holiday before school starts again and my kids are getting ready to set off for university, in one case, for the first time (yes I am excited).

It feels as if this is the last week before the rush. Traffic will get heavier and business get serious again. It’s not that it isn’t serious in August but not much gets done as half the world is out of the office – staff, suppliers and customers.

Next week all the shops will have their Christmas decorations out! There’s a lot going on in the world before you need to

Business storage backup & dr

Storage needs on the up

I did some backing up last night. As well as using Google+ for photos I store them on two hard drives kept at separate locations – one at home and one in the office.

The drive at home is 500GBytes and only has a few tens of gigs of space left. The one at work is a TeraByte palm drive and has plenty of room on it.

You may have noticed a bit of a theme to posts in recent weeks/months relating to the growth in storage requirements based on people taking more and more photos. As my home drive was starting to fill up I thought I’d revisit my usage pattern (if that’s the right way of putting it).

The chart below shows the amount of storage needed for photos and videos on a year by year basis. The early years are just noise. 2007 looks like a bit of an aberration – a rush of blood/new camera/special occasion maybe.

From there on there is a definite trend appearing. Remember that we are only half way through 2012 and I haven’t had my summer holiday yet. I am using the same camera technology thisyear as last with the exception that the Galaxy S3 has the burst mode which is naturally going to generate more Bytes.

Trefor Davies' growth in storage requirements for photos and videos

Business Cloud internet

Rolls Royce visit Timico NOC as model example – well impressed

Rolls Royce visit to the Timico NOCIt’s hugely satisfying to get contacted by people out of the blue to be asked if they can come and visit your Network Operations Centre because they have heard that it is a great reference  model.

This was the case with engineering giant Rolls Royce who are building their own NOC and wanted to come and visit ours to give them some ideas. Ten of them turned up for a look around and I am pleased to report they went away mightily impressed. If anyone else out there wants a tour just drop me a line. We are proud of our NOC and the staff that operate it are a great bunch. I am always delighted to show them off to visitors.

PS they didn’t realise they were going to be photographed – it’s a security measure 🙂

Cloud End User fun stuff


The leaderboard for the Wales Open at the Celtic Manor as I arrived at the hospitality areaI may flatter myself in thinking that the readers of this blogthe view of the 18th green on the 2010 golf course at the Celtic Manor taken from the hospitality area are savvy intellectuals, sophisticates, oozers of erudition, people of the world – both real and ethereal. They appreciate the finer things in life. I can tell by the standard of comment. That being clearly and undeniably the case I am pleased to be able to present, for your entertainment, a further series of photographs very much representing me enjoying the good things in life.

Before I go any further however we should clear the air. If you are of a jealous disposition you should not read on. Alsoatrium at the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel during the Wales Open golf political views are not part of this debate. After all even Aneurin Bevan MP, socialist hero and creator of the National Health Service, used to save up so that he could indulge once a month in a seriously hedonistic night out at the Savoy Hotel. The envious should leave now, reading no further, and immerse themselves in the cold bath of self pity. Go.

Today’s photographs are a selection taken from an extensive collection assembled over two days of my stay at the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel whilst watching the Wales Open Golf Tournament. I was there as a guest of Wesley Clover, the Terry Matthews VC business. Note there is a megaprize competition at the end of this post – haven’t had one for a while.

I have included a range of subject matter that gives you the best flavour of the experience. I warn you now, if you expect to see anything of the first 17 ½ holes then you will be disappointed for most of the action takes place from the corporate hospitality tent overlooking the 18th green. For the cognoscenti the 18th is a monster 575 yards par 5 and if you don’t hit the green with your approach shot you are knackered. Your ball will either end up in a bunker or if it falls short, the water. You need to know that the front fringe is mown short and slopes steeply back into the lake before it.

After a hard day of watching golf I retired to the relaxing comfort of the spa. There are no photos of this bit as it would not have been appropriate. Also the steam from the steam room would probably not have been good for my phone.

Later we were ferried by Keith in a Mercedes limo to the excellent Clytha Arms near Raglan to participate in theirthe roof of the atrium at the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel annual Cider and Perry Festival.

The Clytha Arms is great. If you have never been you should make a detour to visit. In fact the same applies for any of the locations I mention herein. The Clytha is a classic country pub and the meeting place for the local hunt. The food is great though we didn’t partake, saving ourselves for the curry at the Kings Arms back near the Celtic Manor. The Kings Arms as some of you may know is sadly no longer a pub but at least it has been replaced by a purveyor of fine curries. Before I finally leave the subject of the Clytha I should tell you thatClytha Arms cider  festival near Raglan most of the attendees at the cider festival seemed to be staying in tents at the back of the pub. There are 100 pitches available. A bit crammed in it looked to me but hey…

Btw I make no apologies for being photographed drinking at a cider festival. We all have to let our hair down sometimes (#2 back and sides – mine).the view from my room at the Celtic Manor Resort Hotel - ensuite golf course

There were plenty of small souped up cars with big attention-seeking exhausts in the car park. Apparently a regular feature of the country life if you are a young man. When we turned up in our Celtic Manor transport it must have seemed quite a contrast. We were obviously not camping. Incidentally I’m a bit dismayed that I left my Cider Festival souvenir glass in the limo on the way home. Ah well.

I should also mention that one of the reasons for going was thatone or two recognisable faces amongst the people listening to the Molinari brothers at the Celtic Manor 2010 course one of our party was Simon Gwatkin (seen wearing jacket in the pic). The Clytha used to be Simon’s local and he wanted to taste one of the Gwatkin Ciders on offer at the festival – never tasted it before. We all had one. We needn’t have bothered. It was rough as anything!

After lunch on the first day we were treated to an interviewdelicious gourmet food on offer at the Celtic Manor 2010 course with the brothers Molinari. These boys were part of the victorious Ryder Cup team from last Autumn. Having seen the course (18th green), the hospitality area and hearing stories of hte celebrations I wish now that I had made the effort to go.

Before I finish I have a little competition for you. Who are the two guys I’m being photographed with in the last photo? Usual prize. None of those in attendance at the golf are eligible to enter in this case.

The last photo is of me in front of the Bentley Mulsanne used inside the Bentley Mulsanne with chauffeur Michaelto ferry me to the railway station at Newport. That’s Terry Matthews’ chauffeur Michael in the photo with me. The car is a very nice 7 litre twin turbo job (not that I’m particularly a car person) that retails for £259,191.07. The seven pence seems a bit petty to me but who am I to say???

Oh and by the way Miguel Angel Jiminez was waiting in reception with me for a car and I was with Gareth Edwards in the lift though we didn’t speak – the lift was full and someone else was chatting to him 🙂

who are these guys I'm with? Megamug prize competition
who are these guys I'm with? Megamug prize competition

Bentley Mulsanne - you should try one :)