Cloud datacentre Engineer

Public Clouds, Private Clouds, and Rainy Day “The Cloud” Solutions

the day I learned an acronym at Monte Carlo

12 years or so ago the company I was working for decided to “get into VoIP” and I was sent to a executive retreat in Cannes in the South of France. Very nice it was. We spent 3 days at ETSI talking about VoIP related issues. I say “talking”. I spent all my time writing down new acronyms for looking up when I got back to the office.

If you don’t understand the lingo it all seems like a black art. Once the learning curve had been climbed the door opened to the wonderfully rich world that is the communications business.

It strikes me that we are going through another phase where people will need to swot up on their acronyms. The Cloud is trendy but what is it? You can’t touch it – or can you? Whatever “it” is every man and his dog seems to feel the need to jump on the bandwagon.

At its most basic the cloud is just a computer accessed remotely via an IP connection. At its most complex it is something that is in a constant state of evolution. The process of understanding this cloud is very much one of pioneering – creating the acronyms rather than learning existing ones.

I am lucky enough to have a platform with this blog that allows experimentation and will be using this opportunity to facilitate a conversation that will take us on a journey through the cloud. The buzzword isn’t going to last for ever. Let’s try and understand it before we have all moved on 🙂

Next week I’ll be looking at the basics. Public cloud versus private cloud and cloud solutions for a rainy day (might not actually talk about the latter – it just sounded good).

PS in case you were worried that we spent all our time working at the Cannes meeting I am happy to confirm that not much sleep was had. The casinos of the Cote d’Azur stay open very late.

Business Cloud dns internet

Amazed by the Queues for Social Media Talks at Internet World #iw_expo,Nominet

queues at Internet World yesterday

I went along to Internet World at Earl’s Court yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find out how useful an afternoon it was. I saw something that I had never seen before and that was people queuing around the block to hear the seminars.

These were largely internet marketing and social media related. The only seminar I saw that was practically empty related to “the cloud”. Nobody at this show was interested in the nuts and bolts clearly although there was a good spread of exhibitors across a wide range of internet technology areas.

I find it difficult to get excited at all the trendy social media stuff that is going on.  For me it is more about the obvious and intuitive rather than the science.

For example I get very disappointed when I look at the list of my new followers on Twitter. 3 times out of 4 they are accounts trying to sell me something. They never seem to have interesting tweets and don’t get followed back. In a few days they have unfollowed me (in a  huff!) and moved on.

Now people claim to make a living out of imparting this kind of information but at the end of the day after a few short hours of playing with Twitter it is blindingly obvious.

There were a number of exhibitors selling Virtual Servers and Storage.  This is going to be a very interesting area of development. Vendors are going to have to be careful that they get their strategy/pitch right particularly in the wake of the Amazon EC2 outage. Demonstrable quality is going to be a big selling point.

Photos are: header – queues outside one of the social media seminars, me at the Nominet booth and an overhead shot of some of the exhibits (fwiw). Click on any of them for a bigger shot. Definately worth a visit I thought though they need to invent parking sensors for mobile phones – so many people wandering around immersed in their iPhone/Android/BlackBerry etc.

PS it was nice to meet with Twitter friend @markmapes in the flesh. His American accent took me completely by surprise though with hindsight it shouldn’t have done:)

Cloud End User online safety scams

Phishing – direct mail style

Just received my first ever phishing attempt via direct mail! With a second class stamp on it:) The only means of contact are a  ymail address and two Chinese telephone numbers, one of which is a fax line.

The funny thing is if I had received this letter ten years ago I might not have been so certain it was a scam but because it is such a common feature of email spam nowadays I know to just bin it. I wonder what he return on investment is – we are talking an envelope, a sheet of A4 paper, some ink and a stamp. It’s a lot more expensive to do it this way than to send out millions of emails.

I’m not going to reveal anymore details though. The writer has asked me to keep this totally confidential:)

PS the header photo was taken at dawn on the breakwater at Peel in the Isle of Man. Regular readers will know that I am the Mayor of Peel breakwater.

Business Cloud datacentre

A data centre’s progress – drinka pinta milka day

new data center for Timico in progress

It’s coming along as you can see if you click on the header image. It always amazes me what one bloke can do when he has a few tools to help him. I guess it is the same in farming. Along came the industrial revolution and everyone left the fields to be replaced by machines.

Today has been spent entering industry awards. I assume it is the same in the farming business (to continue with the theme).  “Why is your pint of milk better value than your competitors?” I suppose you can brush up your best cow and take her along and have something solid for the judges to evaluate:).

I have had to sit through some long hot tedious awards evenings, usually run by a magazine eager to reward its biggest advertisers. They can be useful to win though as we  have found out when we got Highly Commended in the Best ITSP (Large Enterprise Category) at this year’s ITSPA Awards. Independent Awards can be quite prestigious.

I’m not going to tell you which awards these were today in case we don’t win – you will have to wait 🙂 – and my advice to you is to “drinka pinta milka day”.  It will make you a winner.

I should think that by the time I put up the next photo of the new build the walls will be complete. Btw I have been asked if I can put up an artist’s impression of the new building but I’m sorry to say I don’t have one in electronic form. I will ask the builders if they have one.

Apps Business Cloud mobile connectivity

Security and Personal Mobile Devices: Consumerisation of the Workplace

How does a business cope with the proliferation of personal mobile devices in the office? Not just mobiles, but laptops and tablet computers too? The problem is not new, but it is growing.

Not so long ago consumers would peer in through the smoked glass panoramic windows of business to admire and envy the tools that were available to those inside. Access to the internet was for most people above a certain age first experienced at work. Their first PC, first mobile phone, first email, first mobile email! The list is a long one.

Today’s workplace is totally different. Staff bring in the toys they use at home and often frown or laugh at their employer’s old fashioned proffering. IT departments now gaze back out through the self-same floor to ceiling windows with reverse envy and spend their time worrying about the security of their network.

A study of a small business

I recently did some work with a UK company on their communications and cloud strategy. The company provided 67 of their 115 employees with a mobile phone; 50 BlackBerrys and 17 mid-range Nokias.

30 staff also carried with them their own personal mobiles. Of the 30, eight people also received a company phone and actually used their own phones for business purposes in preference to those supplied by the employer. A further seven staff who were not given company mobiles used their own phones to pick up company email making a total of 15 out of 30 personal mobiles that were used for work purposes.

Business datacentre

Spring forward

timico datacentre

Normally I don’t notice the weather, being Welsh and having grown up on the Isle of Man. Also although I have a panoramic view over the car park in the office I only notice what it is like outside when I have to draw the blinds.

I do notice the light evenings though because apart from their uplifting effect when leaving work I get dragged into playing rugby with the kids in the back garden (also cricket, football and blind man’s buff for some unknown reason – I think they like the control aspect of it).

This time of year is a good time to take stock of the year ahead. The first quarter is done and dusted. We won’t know yet but it looks as if it will have been a good one.

There is a lot happening this year. Last year we threw a lot of money at the core network and this year it will be more. The data centre is also a big commitment but the building is starting to take shape. We are also undergoing a big business transformation as we invest time and money into systems that will give our customers a world class experience.

The internet industry is such a fast moving game that it involves continuous investment and improvement. You have to pay to play, as they say.

Although we seem to be continuously surrounded by bad news items: earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear disasters, revolutions there is so much exciting stuff happening and it is worth keeping focused. The revolution in the mobile internet world, social networking, the move to the cloud. These all represent enormous business opportunities.

Following the success of the Move over IPv4 Bring on IPv6 event last week I am going to be organising some other, perhaps even more highly focused, evening “activities” around relevant hot topics.

Watch this space for more news.

PS sorry about this waffle – it is Friday afternoon and it’s been another busy week in paradise.  Have a good weekend 🙂

Business Cloud datacentre

Datacentre build update #cloud


Timico datacentre build

I’ve been taking pictures of the new datacentre build every day I have been in the office. This is the latest – weather is a bit grotty but the forecast is bright:).

It is shooting up. After all the builders will want to get it finished and we want to get it filled.

If you click on the image on the right you get a larger version.

Cloud datacentre Engineer

In 2014 the Market for Cloud Equipment Will Double its 2009 Tally

Cloud Equipment Market Will Grow From $110Bn in 2009 to $217Bn in 2014.

2009, according to a Cisco sponsored report by Forrester Research Inc, saw a significant uplift of sales of equipment into the cloud services sector despite the global recession. Figures show significantly greater growth in equipment sales that support next generation managed services as opposed to traditional Customer Premises Equipment.

2009 market growth

Their forecast for this market is that sales will grow from $110Bn in 2009 to $217Bn in 2014, a CAGR of 15%. It is all very exciting, I guess, unless that is you are stuck selling on premises equipment in which case you probably need to start thinking of career alternatives.

This information came from the Cisco Managed services seminar at the Tower of London last week. What struck me was the huge number of elements that make up the big cloud services picture. I counted 62 different technology areas that Cisco claim make up the whole market. These include areas such as Computing as a Service, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service. The range is mind boggling.

This isn’t something that an ISP can undertake on a broad scale, at least not during the initial development stages of this market. You have to cherry pick your offerings.

Forrester have segmented the market into Unified Comms, Metro Ethernet, Security, Managed VPN (MPLS I assume) and Data Center . This may help. Timico plays in all these market segments to greater or lesser degrees which is somewhat reassuring.

In my mind you have to ignore the buzzwords and get on with satisfying what your customers need. In many cases customers will already have a good idea but there will be many more looking for guidance.

The case for Virtualization, which is a big part of the infrastructure play when it comes to talking about managed services and the cloud, is very strong.

I looked at one specific example of a company that had 217 machines/servers occupying 9 racks. On average each server has 500GB of storage (an assumption on my part but a reasonable one) but a memory utilisation of only 30 – 40%. That’s a usage of only 43TB out of a total available of 108TB (plenty of rounding here).

If this server estate could be distilled onto a robust Storage Area Network that represents a huge potential cost saving, just taking disk space into consideration. More memory is saved because these systems typically recognise which operating systems are being used by the Virtual Machines and do not replicate multiple instances of such software.

What’s more aggregated processing power = better individual VM performance. In other words the processor capacity available to any single machine is far greater than it previously had access to on a single server. This inevitably results in performance efficiencies. The bandwidth story is the same. An individual stand alone server is likely to be served by a maximum of 1Gbps whereas a VM will probably get 10Gbps.

The example I looked at will result in 217 VMs on single 8U blade centre with a capacity 32 servers though we won’t need all 32 for this specific customer.

As Cisco has suggested the market is undergoing a big change right now. One that requires significant investment in infrastructure. I suspect that many familiar names will fail to make it through. It will be interesting to see who emerges into the clear skies beyond the cloud 🙂

Charts are courtesy of Cisco with Data from Forrester Research Inc.

Business Cloud gaming online safety Regs

Today is Safer Internet Day #MMORPG #UKCCIS

Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day. This year’s topic is ”It’s more than a game, it’s your life” and the aim of the initiative is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children. The website reports some interesting statistics:

  • Gamers spend on average 8 hours weekly playing online.
  • Young people sleep 2 to 3 hours less per night than 10 years ago.
  • In January 2010, 18 million accounts were registered on Second Life.
  • Facebook reports more than 500 million active users.
  • Users spend 700 billion minutes on Facebook each month.
  • 13 million players of World of Warcraft (WoW), the world’s largest MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).
  • MMORPGs generated $1.5 billion in subscription revenues worldwide in 2008, forecast to reach $2.5 billion by 2012.
  • Up to 250,000 players are simultaneously online on WoW.
  • Transactions and sales of virtual goods in virtual worlds were estimated at $18 billion in 2009.

Its is amazing but I can identify with many of these bullet points. My kids spend far more than 8 hours online playing MMORPGs (it is a truly great acronym). All my kids are on Facebook even though two of them are below the recommended age limit. I vet their friends lists and have the logon details of the youngest who is not allowed to post photos. All his spare cash goes on online games – and we are talking £40 a pop here which is truly irritating as a parent (thats about fifteen pints of beer in real money! 🙂 ).

Parents need to jointly develop a survival strategy here. It only takes one to let the side down and let their kids have free rein to spoil it for the lot of us.

Note in connection with Safer Internet Day, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, published the results of two complementary surveys that indicate that only 21% of UK individuals who live in a household with dependent children use parental control filtering software. This is higher than the EU average of 14% but considerable lower than the results of the EU Kids Online survey that was published a couple of weeks ago and reported that 54% of UK parents (28% across the EU) use parental controls or other means of blocking or filtering some types of websites.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) has published a “Good practice guidance for the moderation of interactive services for children” which you might want to take a look at.

Publicising Safer Internet Use is very important and I suggest more needs to be done to educate parents on what they might be able to do to help themselves. This is particularly important in the light of the fact that politicians are constantly trying to take control of the internet “for our own good“.

PS one fact that coaught my attention in the EU report was that in the EU2 in 2010, almost one third of individuals (31%) who used the internet in the 12 months prior to the survey reported that they caught a virus or other computer infection resulting in loss of information or time during this period.

PPS thanks to ISPA for drawing my attention to these data.

And finally – I have to say were are entering a truly great era for acronyms – MMORPG!!!!!

Business Cloud datacentre

Timico to spend £7m on datacentre, NOC and virtualisation

I am quite excited to be able to announce that we have begun the building of a new 18,000 sq ft, three storey facility at our Newark Corporate HQ. This will house a datacentre with up to 150 4KW racks on the ground floor. 

The first floor is designed as a Network Operations Centre and will provide us with a great 24×7 monitoring facility, screens galore and mirrored glass – the works. The initial build is costing £5m but we are planning a further £2m spend over the next three years, mainly on increasing the capacity of our virtualisation platform and Storage Area Network.

The Newark site already has diverse fibre connections but we will be adding a further link to Manchester to increase our route options out of the UK.

This facility will allow us to offer customers we host in London Docklands an alternative DR option in the midlands. The bigger play though will be virtualisation and the private cloud. We have been offering bespoke virtualisation services for three years or so but this will represent a big step up. Look out for announcements on this later in the year.

The header photo (click to see all of it) is of me and Construction Manager Gary Davies of Lindum Construction doing the ceremonials for the “groundbreaking”. The pic below is me actually doing some digging – I went out and bought a new spade especially 🙂

Cloud Engineer security

Cyber Security: A Never-ending Unwinnable War

USAF General William Lord in cyber security briefing
header photo Gen William T. Lord courtesy of USAF

The words Hague cyber warfare Treaty appeared fleetingly in my twitter stream this morning.

This really intrigued me. It brought visions of uniformed generals sat around a table at the United Nations signing fancy bits of paper. Over their shoulders were clouds filled with botnet armies – millions of compromised computers waiting for the command to strike, glaring ferociously at their opposite numbers.

There is a wonderful wealth of information out there on cyber warfare and security. For example according to Lt. Gen. William T. Lord, the US Air Force chief information officer, cyberattackers have shifted their tactics from trying to breach firewalls to penetrating applications and said the service has serious application vulnerabilities. “We have over 19,000 (information technology) applications in the Air Force,” he said, noting that Electronic Systems Center’s IT Center of Excellence at Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex, Ala., examined about 200 of them. “All of them had over 50 vulnerabilities.”

The incredible pace of introduction of new technologies is a serious problem to the military which likes to take years to develop and test anything it buys. It used to be that the army would be first to get advanced technologies that would one day filter down to peaceful applications. These days it is the other way round. The army must presumably end up using applications that have had little or no security testing but are considered worth the risk (I’m not speaking from personal knowledge or experience here).

The United Nations has in fact been giving this some due consideration – it would be negligent of them not to, fair play. Last week the UN published a document updating its position re disarmament and cyber warfare was covered in pages 12 – 20 (out of 42).

In the document the UN discusses possible solutions:

  1. The security of confidential as well as less significant information and networks
    A. Security updates should be applied to all systems
    B. A comprehensive disaster recovery planning should take place, which includes provisions
    for extended outages.
  2. The creation of an international treaty which includes:
    A. A concrete definition of cyber warfare which is ratified by all signatories
    B. A limitation on the usage of cyber weapons
  3. The establishment of an annual international platform, in which experts in the computer and
    cyber field from different countries may foster dialog with one another regarding the issue of
    providing measures to regulate cyber warfare
  4. Increased effort in raising awareness about the cyber warfare and the threats it poses for the
    world in its entirety

Most of this, treaty apart, is obvious stuff and to be honest suggests that the UN doesn’t really know what to do about it. Does anyone?  I would be hugely surprised if many government really signed up to it.  After all why would a government (naming no names) want to deny itself the ability to attack Iran’s nuclear programme using bloodless electronic means?

In any case nobody would trust anyone else not to develop cyber warfare tools – it would be nigh on impossible to police. This is unfortunately in my view a battle war that is being fought but that nobody can win. I bet the proposed annual international conference would be a very interesting one to attend though maybe not as interesting as the meetings that they don’t tell us about.

We’re all doooomed!

Business Cloud media

Flashback to Christmas Eve 2010, Skype outage and Talk Talk traffic surge forecast on Xmas Day

BBC Radio 5 Live interview on Christmas Eve 2010 talking about the expected surge of internet usage on Christmas Day when people started using their new gadgets.  Also discussed the Skype outage.

Business datacentre

building for growth

surveying the ground prior to starting on the new Timico Datacentre buildI’m looking forward to another year of building growth in business. Watch this space for news but to give you a clue the header photo is of the plot of land behind our current offices. The bloke in the yellow coat is a surveyor. There will be a webcam involved together with a few giant boys toys.

It’s currently minus one degrees out there so I am glad I have a nice warm airconditioned office to sit in:) Click the photo to get a bigger view of the plot.

Business Cloud

Amazon is Down and What that Means for Public Cloud Confidence

Having noted the resilience of Wikileaks and thus the internet from concerted Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks we wake up this morning to a crisis in cloud confidence with the news that some of Amazon’s own European sites have been down. The reason cited? “hardware failure”.

As a network operator I know that no one is immune from such failures.  It is a surprise however that such a failure (we are not given any details) could bring a site such as Amazon down. The Amazon pitch is that their cloud is distributed over multiple sets of hardware and is supposedly able to live with the failure of any given server/drive.

The fact is that this puts out a message that Amazon’s service is not as resilient as they would like it to be.  It will quite possibly make businesses think twice about using a public service that is shared with so many other users.  If any one of those users is attacked it could affect everyone else with collateral damage.

I’m not sure that the cyber battles currently going on over Wikileaks can be described as full scale cyber warfare. The shot across the cyber bows is however going to make people think hard about their cloud strategies.

As a provider of services local to the UK  this actually does give me hope that the model of private clouds for business rather than the big scale low cost low margin world of Amazon et  al has the potential to be one of the winners.

Business Cloud internet piracy Regs security

The Futility of Blocking Websites #deappg #wikileaks #censor

Mirrors, and the sheer hopelessness today of blocking websites.

A retweet by Guardian Technology Editor Charles Arthur caught my attention this morning:

RT @AustinHeap “#Wikileaks is averaging 13.9 new mirror sites per hour, or one new mirror every 4′ #censor” So that shutdown went well, eh?

Unless you have no access to media, and in which case you won’t be reading this post, you will have noticed the ongoing wikileaks furore. This is not a post about that subject. Wikileaks’ website is, however, coming under heavy Denial Of Service attack by persons unknown, and the response of its wide community of supporters is to mirror the site to provide alternative access to the content. According to the Wikileaks mirrors website (also blocked but available via IP address) as of 21.55 GMT last night there were 1005 such mirrors.

This does two things. Firstly it shows the futility of trying to block websites (prevention of inadvertent access aka IWF excepted). Secondly it shows the resilience of the internet, a network designed by the US Government to survive nuclear attack. Whilst the source of the DoS attack is probably a matter of conjecture, for those persons who question of the US Government’s approach to law and order it is somewhat ironic that it is this very built resilience is preventing the site from being taken down, or at least keeping the information live.

There are lessons here when we start to consider whether blocking should be applied in other areas such as sites promoting copyright infringement…

Business Cloud internet net neutrality Regs

Netflix, Comcast, Level 3 and Net Neutrality #deappg @edvaizey

The Net Neutrality debate in full swing: Comcast wants to charge Level 3 for the delivery of the Netflix content over its network because such content represents a disproportionately high amount of traffic. What gives?

There’s a very interesting row going on over the pond concerning who pays for network access that has a useful contribution to the Net Neutrality debate in the UK. I am a late arrival here but it is certainly worth recording.

In a nutshell US video streaming provider Netflix recently awarded its content delivery contract to global network operator Level 3. A great many of Netflix customers use Comcast as their ISP. Comcast and Level 3 have a peering agreement whereby they carry each other’s traffic free of charge.

Comcast now wants to charge Level 3 for the delivery of the content over its network because Netflix represents a disproportionately high amount of traffic.

Level 3 is trying to get the US Authorities involved with a Net Neutrality angle. Comcast does have a fair point to make because the Level3/Netflix traffic amounts to 27 x 10Gbit network ports – 2 times its existing traffic levels and 5 x the level of traffic that Comcast sends to Level 3.

This is a beauty and mirrors public conversations going on in the UK including Ed Vaizey’s recent announcement that ISPs should be left to sort out their own commercial arrangements for content delivery – an announcement that subsequently with retrospective caveats (clarifications?!) by the Minister.

I’m not going to provide any links to other sources here – a Google search for “netflix level 3” yields 585,000 results. This could provide us with a precedent that will influence other commercial discussions and, no doubt public debate in the UK.

Cloud Engineer internet ipv6

The Road to IPv6 (or How to Avoid the IPv4 Apocalypse)

Apocalypse IPv4

A paper by Trefor Davies and Chris Nicholls

The Problem
Regular readers of this blog will know that we, the world, are about to run out of the IPv4 addresses that are absolutely crucial to the running of the internet. This notionally apocalyptic event is almost certain to happen over the next three months, maybe even two.

The allocation of IP addresses is managed by an organisation called IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). IANA hands out these numbers in /8 blocks containing 16,777,216 addresses. Clearly you would have to be a big network provider to need 16 million IP addresses. Because of this IANA hands these large blocks to five regional registries that then manage the distribution of smaller blocks to their customers. In Europe the regional registry is called RIPE NCC.

Whilst I have myself been guilty of (playfully) scaremongering in respect of the exhaustion of the pool of Ipv4 addresses, it is only really IANA that is about to run out. RIPE will not run out for perhaps another year and even after that individual ISPs will have their own existing unused addresses to play with.

Notwithstanding this it behoves all ISPs and network operators to get their house in order with Ipv6 which is the long since identified answer to the problem. Ipv6, a 128 bit protocol supports 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses compared the 32 bit IPv4 which only provides 4,294,967,296 (232) . IPv6 is expected to serve us for a very long time.

Few ISPs in the UK have announced IPv6 support. As we approach the IANA Apocalypse I thought I would share with you the engineering work that we have been doing at Timico in respect of IPv6

Timico has been running IPv6 as part of our internal research and development activity for a number of years. The core of the network has been running dual stack IPv4 and IPv6 with external connectivity to the rest of the internet for most of this time. Attempts thus far to bring these services to our customers have been limited due to the lack of demand, vendor support and our core IPv4 operations taking precedence.

Cloud datacentre Engineer peering

Notes from London Internet Exchange (LINX), including Telecity and Datacentre Market Growth

I usually attend the quarterly meetings of the London Internet Exchange (LINX). At the risk of boring readers you do find some fascinating facts at these get togethers.

LINX has 383 members with 56 new applications in 2010. That’s huge growth. Members come from 50 countries – so despite having London in its name LINX is very much international in its orientation.

LINX has 304 10Gig ports and carries over 776Gbp/sec peak traffic – roughly the same amount of traffic as around 160,000 Standard Definition video streams or 40,000 High Def. Traffic is up 22% in the last three months!

LINX members can reach around 78% of all websites in the world through their London connections. Interestingly historically LINX traffic has been fairly smooth whereas an individual ISP will see spikes based on high profile events such as the Olympics and the Football World Cup. Now even LINX is starting to see the effect of these events. The Chilean mine rescue is one example. People watched it on TV at home and then carried on using the internet once they had arrived in the office.

At LINX71 datacentre operator Telecity have just told us that they are selling out colocation space as fast as they can build it. They currently have around 23MW in the UK with a further 21MW in build.

Mind bogglingly they say that Google has as much datacentre space in Liege in Belgium as does Telecity in the entire UK.

More interesting facts as the surface – you read them first on

Cloud Engineer peering Weekend

New #LINX added value service – chutney peering at LINX71

Timico CTO Trefor Davies and Entanet CTO Steve Lalonde try out new chutney peering at London Internet Exchange (LINX) meeting

The internet is a continuously changing body of many thousands of networks small and large connected together, mostly for the greater good.  The functionality provided by the internet is growing at a mind boggling rate. The London Internet Excange (LINX) as one of the world hubs where these thousands of networks meet to exchange traffic has just expanded its remit to include chutney peering.

Chutney peering is very similar to the peering of  internet traffic. The photo in the header (courtesy of @thomasjelliott – click to see more) shows the worlds first ever chutney exchange at a LINX meeting. The two peers are Timico CTO Trefor Davies (left) and Entanet CTO Steve @routerfixer Lalonde.

Business Cloud net neutrality ofcom Regs

Net Neutrality: An ISP View

Net Neutrality and whether the government should regulate ISPs to guarantee an open and fair internet for all has become a trending topic. As an ISP my natural inclination is to say that there should be no regulation. A government’s job is to regulate only where necessary. ISPs are easy targets because the whole world is moving its operations online and ISPs are the conduit to that world. We are constantly warding off regulation.

Ofcom has said that there is not enough evidence for them to come up with any proposals for regulation in this space.

At the same time ISPs, in particular mobile ISPs have said that in order to be able to invest in the growth of their network infrastructure they need to be able to charge premium rates for premium services. The nature of these services has yet to be determined, at least publicly. Mobile network operators are expecting a hundred fold increase in bandwidth demand over the next three years and in their minds they need somehow to be able to pay for this capacity. O2 has been very vocal about this.

Apps Cloud Engineer storage backup & dr

@tref on Twitter…Tweetnest Archive, For Future Archaeologists

Picturing the scene in centuries to come, when Internet archaeologists are able to sift through the zillions of trivial minutiae — including @tref on Twitter — to try and piece together evidence of the early life on the internet.

"Victorious" was made by William Foster & Co of Lincoln

For the very few of you interested – the uberest of geeks – you can now view my twitter archive, created using tweetnest and stored on the growing more useful every day resource

I am somewhat gutted that the first 2k or so tweets are not listed – presumably a “feature” of twitter.  That’s a part of my online life lost forever (I can hear a few uhuh!s already).

I can picture the scene in centuries to come. There will be internet archaeologists expert in sifting through the zillions of trivial minutiae to try and piece together evidence of the early life on the internet. Where are the lost tweets? they will say.

Someone will no doubt come across some DVDs (or floppy disks) and have to take them to the science museum to have them read. Who was @tref? Presumably the guy that started the pangalactic blogging revolution that is Bearded professors will hold conference sessions discussing the subject and one day one of them will rush into the room crying “I have just found out who discovered the Third Law“.

I dream. It is dark on a Thursday afternoon and nearly time to go home 🙂

PS the header photo is just something I dug out that seemed to be remotely technologically archaeological. It is a steam traction engine that I saw at the British Ploughing Championships held in Lincoln last month. The “Victorious” was made by William Foster & Co of Lincoln sometime after ww1. Quality.

broadband datacentre Engineer

Next Generation Broadband: The Digital Village Pump

Google satellite image of Ashby de la Launde in Lincolnshire

The story of Next Generation Broadband Access into the Final Third has to be all about the Digital Village Pump. The phrase has a certain flow to it but this is not about water. This DVP is about bytes.

The concept is that you run a fibre into a village and it terminates into a secure “datacentre” owned and run by the local community.  In the picture below the DVP is tucked away nicely at the back of a building in the centre of the village.

Digital Village Pump set in a modern day utilitarian "datacentre"
Digital Village Pump set in a modern day utilitarian “datacentre”

The DVP is air cooled with minimal ongoing maintenance and running costs.

How you get the fibre into the village in the first place is going to be different for each community.

There is very often an existing fibre run in an area – serving a school for example. It is not untypical for such runs to have multile strands of fibre, most of which are unused. This just needs identifying. It maybe a wireless feed.

How that community then distributes the connectivity is up to them. It isn’t necessarily feasible to expect people with no experience of data networks to do this themselves but the idea is that they engage a management company to look

broadband Cloud End User

Non Internet Use –> Neo-Monasticism –> The World as it Was

There are still plenty of people today who have never been or don’t go online. Life without Broadband. There will come a time when either they will have seen the light or that generation moves on to greener pastures. Then the only non-internet users will be monks. The old real world will become a spiritual world and the internet will become the new real world outside.

People will sign up for retreats for days, weeks or even for life amongst the true believers. Monastic orders will be established touting the “truly spiritual” way of life as being the road to salvation. Contact will be via a single analogue landline in a phone box at the bottom of the road and they will have self imposed rotas for when the monks will be allowed out to call friends and relatives.

The hardcore will only write letters. This in itself will spawn a new cottage industry filled with those that can actually write in the old fashioned way using pen and paper. Many people will not be able to decipher this handwriting and will need help to translate it when they receive a letter. Handwriting to text application software will be built in to every operating system

Taking this to the extreme these people will probably have to grow their own food because you will only be able to buy such items via an online portal. Tesco will be turned into a virtual arcade. You will be able to physically go there but everything on the shelves will just be a touch screen that you add to your cart. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get instant access to goods but that will carry a premium.

The monks will of course lead long and obliviously happy lives. They will not be governed by the 3rd law of t’internet that states that time goes a lot more quickly when using the internet. This life will not be totally filled wine and roses (there is nothing to say that wine is forbidden btw) and there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Every day will become a Sunday afternoon but without even a black and white movie on TV. There will in fact be no TV because terrestrial services will long since have moved onto Terabit per second fibre to the premises.

And if you are not one of the spiritual few? Who knows what your fate might be…

PS  I realise that the concept of watching a black and white move on TV on a Sunday afternoon will be beyond the ken of someone under the age of 40 but it made it into the final editor’s cut on this post anyway 🙂

Business Cloud google

Parsing Google Internet Economy Report

web front end for plumbersYesterday’s Google sponsored report on the internet economy naturally received huge media coverage. In 2009 the UK Internet economy was worth £100Bn (7.2% GDP), was growing at 10% a year and directly employed 250,000 people.

All good stuff for us that work in this economy especially the fact that the UK is now the largest per capita e-commerce market. You can read the report itself for more detail. The biggest message for me is that unless businesses have embraced this economy they will not remain competitive.

For example the engineers in the Timico office, workaholics as they are, regularly order take away meals online. If there are two pizza businesses in town it is the one with the ecommerce website that will get most of this business (unless of course they have spent all their money on the website and none on product development).

Business storage backup & dr

Fusion-io cool technology but embarassing “refridgeration” gaffe

fusion-io graphics technologyGraphics technology vendor Fusion-io had an impressive display on their booth yesterday at IP Expo, marred somewhat by what is presumably a  gaffe by their marketing department.

I didn’t spot it until reviewing my photos when I came to write this post. The banner atop the booth has a glaring spelling mistake.  I didn’t notice it on the day so it may be that nobody else did.  Unfortunately here it is now for all to see.

PS any speling mistake on this blog is either deliberate or a typo – please let me know if you spot one and I will corect  it imediately.

Unfortunately it is too late for Fusion-io who otherwise look like an impressive company 🙂

PPS maybe it’s the American spelling?

Business datacentre

2,200 properties in the Newark area lose elecric power – communications services OK

2,200 properties in the Newark area have lost elecric power due to a substation failure.  I’m told it will take a couple of hours before “normal service is restored”.

That’s cool.  I can hear the reassuring sounds of the backup generator humming away. Comms are still up but the microwave oven in the kitchen, which is not a key service and therefore not supported on the jenny, has a half cooked meal in it. Customer services are still functioning. 

datacentre End User internet social networking

@tref on Twitter…Two Years, Ten Weeks, Two Days and Counting

I joined twitter 802 days ago on 17th May 2008. Since then as @tref on Twitter I have sent 2,623 tweets, an average of just over three a day. Not too bad for anyone who thinks I spend too long on the site.

In June, according to twitter COO Dick Costolo twitter had 190 million users, growing by 300 thousand a day. These users were generating 65million tweets a day – that’s enough for twitter to be building its own brand new datacentre to handle all the traffic.

Business hosting internet piracy Regs Suspended Following Universal Music Removal Request

Doing the rounds today is news of the removal of the site. The italicised text is from their temporary holding page. was suspended by its German hosting company after removal request from law firm representing Universal Music, although we never hosted any files or copyrighted data on our server. Our site is strictly informative.

We found a new host and moved our site, but it wasn’t powerful enough to handle the site.

We should be back tomorrow on more powerful server.

Check our forums in the meantime:”

Now I’ve never been on A quick “Google” tells me this about it:

Links. RSS | IRC | Contact · New releases | posts · · · NTi forums · Leecher’s Lair · PornLeecher · Rapidshare King …

It doesn’t look like my kind of site. I then did another quick Google on “” and it came up with about 1,950,000 results. That’s a lot of sites promoting free availability of copyrighted material (presumably).

The Government was naive in the extreme to think that filtering websites would go anyway towards solving the problem of unlawful copyring infringement. It is a complete waste of time, effort and money that also establishes a very dangerous precedent.

If this ludicrous law somehow sticks I’d like to see the Government take on Google, Bing (Microsoft) et al and  We are all accessories to unlawful activity here.

Cloud Engineer internet

Flagship MPLS project

I don’t normally go about overtly selling Timico in this blog but sometimes, when the customer is doing it for you in the trade press, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do*.

Flagship Housing is a recent customer of Timico.  We implemented an MPLS network for them. They love it enough to

Business Cloud hosting

School moves homework into cloud #digitalbritain #bbdf

This will fan the flames of the Final Third Campaign when I tell them that my kids school now provides a cloud based facility for them to deposit and retrieve files.  These files can be their completed homework, or anything. 

The school uses the facility to post notices, questionnaires, information about homework and social events.  Anything!

This is great. The service uses an external site called Each child gets a 10MB allocation of space. Apart from my getting excited about this from a technical internetty perspective it also brings into stark focus the whole issue of Digital Britain and the Digital Divide – what ever you want to call it, as discussed at length by Gordon Brown this morning in his live broadcast.

Edited screenshot below.

another screenshot from school cloud storage space
another screenshot from school cloud storage space
screenshot from school cloud storage space
screenshot from school cloud storage space