Categories
Business datacentre hosting

Jolt web hosting established at Timico Newark datacentre

Jolt web hosting launched in the UK

My pal Matt Russell is, at the tender age of 30, a veteran of the web hosting industry. He is a successful self starter and has owned a number of businesses in the space. I got to know him when he set up some services at our Newark Datacentre when I was CTO there. In those days Matt was joint owner of WebHostingBuzz which as well as the UK and Europe (Amsterdam) had resources across the USA. Matt is now rebranding WebHostingBuzz.co.uk to Jolt web hosting.

He is doing this to help focus the business on UK and European markets. Most of the support resources of WHB are on this side of the pond so it made sense for him to put his efforts into his home market. Matt has been remarkably successful in building a fully automated and integrated hosting system that can easily be applied to different brands. He keeps the same back end infrastructure and support teams and just replaces the front end.

The fact that he makes use of a seriously high quality date centre resource as is the TImico facility just underlines the quality of his approach to service provision. Timico massively over provision their connectivity to the datacentre to ensure the best experience for their customers.

If you are looking for some cost effective and quality web hosting take a look at Jolt. Try them out for responsiveness.

I asked Matt for an elevator pitch for Jolt and he gave me this:

“Jolt web hosting provides 24×7 support via helpdesk and also real time live chat. best blend of latest hardware, timico’s network, low prices”

There you go. It’s nice to be able to help and support a business in your home town. Matt lives half a mile from me and the Morning Star pub is approximately half way between our two houses:)

Happy Chinese New Year

shey shey

Tref

Categories
datacentre Engineer engineering internet ipv6

Live blogging from #UKNOF29 and Internet Society ION Conference in belfast next week

Look out for live blogging from UKNOF29 and the Internet Society ION conference in Belfast next week.

UKNOF, or the UK Network Operators Forum have really interesting conferences three times a year. I’ve often thought one could fill the blog for  week or two with posts based on the content. The problem is that it takes a long time to write a post based on an individual talk at a conference and at the same time you need to be listening to the talks. it is therefore impossible to write enough posts in a timely manner to do justice to the job. Getting the speakers themselves to turn their talk into a post is also like getting blood out of a stone. Next week at UKNOF29 I’m taking a different approach.

One of the things I’ve noticed about conference talks over the years is that you can probably choose one or two decent slides from each talk and get the gist of what it is all about. The rest is mainly filler. If you had a digest of all that was good at the conference it would save a lot of time and effort. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t go to conferences because a big chunk of their value is in the networking opportunities the bring. However there must be a way to summarise the conference, an exec or engineering summary maybe.

The answer I think is the live blog, The live blog is what they use to provide updates for sporting events.

GOOOAL  1 -1.

Davies strikes the back of the net after a great cross by Evans from the corner post.

Penalty missed – still 1 – 1

You get my drift. Next week therefore at UKNOF29 in Belfast I’m going to try out  new plugin that provides this functionality. I’ve had it since the design of trefor.net was changed, around the time of the Pissup in a Brewery, but not used it yet.

When people go to these engineering events a lot of the action is on the IRC back channel. I don’t user IRC because it gets too busy although it can provide some interesting insights. I can only cope with so many means of communication. Also I’ve not identified a suitable plug in for the the chromebook yet. The other channel, which is pretty constrained due to its character limitation is Twitter but hashtags don’t seem to have that much effect at these technical conferences. I think it is more the domain of the marketing luvvie.

So I think the live blog could well work for this sort of event, if properly done. The beauty is that It almost only needs a line or two about each talk. Maybe cut and paste of info from twitter, an occasional pic of a slide etc.

It must be said there’s some great looking stuff being talked about next week:

“What went wrong with IPv6” by Dave Wilson of HEAnet (Ireland’s Janet)

“IPv6 only data centres” by Tom Hill of Bytemark

“Broadcast editing and delivering over IP” by by our old friend (he’s knocking on a bit:) ) Brandon Butterworth of the BBC.

Just a snapshot really of what is on offer. UKNOF29 is colocated with The Internet Society ION conference. There is more IPv6 stuff in their agenda which you can check out here.

At the time of writing there are 142 people registered to attend UKNOF29 . This is pretty good going considering you have to get to Belfast to be there.

More UKNOF blog posts here. Check em out. See you at UKNOF29? Come up and say hello.

Categories
Bad Stuff Business datacentre gadgets H/W mobile apps mobile connectivity travel

Eurostars Upon Thars

Being a somewhat regular visitor to London over the past 15 years, and having spent more than a year commuting weekly from Paris to a start-up gig there way back in ‘00-’01, I have Eurostar stories to burn. Nothing I could recount, though, compares to the head-shaking cock-up I was a party to this past Friday.

I arrived at the Eurostar departure area at St. Pancras at 15h00 on the nose, ready to flash my ticket’s QR code at the gate. A gentleman in front of me had a problem getting the gate to take his QR, and he waved me ahead. At that moment the gate opened, and with it all happening so fast I rushed right through. A no-no, to be sure, and I knew it (gotta flash your code, otherwise the databases aren’t fat and happy), so I immediately turned around to hand my ticket to the guy who waved me ahead so all could be reconciled. And if that had been all that happened, it all would’ve worked out fine. No harm, no foul.

Alas, as I was handing my ticket to the guy whose entry I had assumed, a Eurostar person jumped in the middle of it all. This woman took my ticket into her hand already full of tickets, working diligently to get not only the guy I mentioned through but others with him as well. That accomplished, she handed me back what should’ve been my ticket, but which I was soon to learn was not in fact my ticket but the ticket of one of the others in the group. Soon to learn, but not quite soon enough as it turned out. Keep reading.

Sneetch Star

Security, Passport Control, a Cadbury Flake purchased, 15h31 train to Paris boarding, up the escalator, down the platform, onto Car 18 and (almost) into Seat 72…which was inhabited by another person with a valid ticket for the seat. My ticket? Valid for the same seat on the train leaving at 16h02. Oh, and the name on the ticket was not anything remotely akin to my own.

Realizing quickly what had happened, I sought out someone in Eurostar-logo-emblazoned clothing to explain my situation to, thinking there would be high-techy solution to it all. Instead I got “Well, all the trains are overbooked today, so we’ll put you on the 16h02 and just hope things work out. Maybe the person with your ticket got on the 15h31. If not, we’ll handle it then.” Thus, Eurostar’s idea of fixing the situation boiled down to this: Perhaps the person traveling with those other people realized he had been handed back your ticket for the 15h31 and instead of staying with his group on the 16h02 he instead bid them a quick “Ta ta! See you in Paris!” and ran to take the 15h31. Oh, and he opted for a different seat than the one on my ticket — although there weren’t any free seats on the train — because he was not the guy I encountered when I tried to take the seat on the 15h31. So just take the seat on the 16h02 with the ticket you are holding and hope.

Whew!

So I boarded the 16h02, took Seat 72 in Car 18, and waited. Not long. Soon enough, the guy who I originally encountered at the entry gate boarded the train with his group. He saw me, immediately knew why I was there, and together we set off in search of a logo-ed person who could offer much-needed resolution. And this is where things get anti-climatic, because we quickly found a train manager who found me an empty seat in Car 17 using a handy-dandy tablet with some proprietary app connected to some up-to-date database in some datacenter somewhere nearby, and that was that. I would make it home for the weekend, I wouldn’t have to stand between cars or sit on someone’s lap to do so, and I could spend the two hours pondering why some Eurostar trains are 2014-tech-ready while others seemingly are not.

Categories
broadband datacentre Engineer engineering internet peering

IXManchester – It’s Quiet Up North #peeringweek

IXManchesterSo IXManchester has been up and running for nearly two years (must make sure someone organises  another birthday party for June) and things continue to grow at a slightly slower pace than the first hectic few months.

January saw a IX Manchester meeting take over part of GMEX Manchester Convention Centre the afternoon before UKNOF 27 and the steering committee were hoping that there would be an announcement on the completion of the fibre ring that would add M247 Icecolo in Trafford and Telecity Joule House is Salford Quays to the core – alas the supplier seems to have run into “issues” and we’re still waiting.

The good news was that the original Brocade’s (re-tasked from the LINX Brocade LAN in London and in service for a number of years before its upgrade to Juniper in 2012) were replace with shiny new  Extreme X670’s. Once the software upgrades have occurred then these will allow ConneXions services providing networks access to the IXManchester LAN from remote locations.

There are now (as of writing this) 44 connected broadband networks with 46 ports in use, 7 of these are 10G so there’s just over 100G of capacity in operation with the new sites and partner connections we’re hoping to crash through 200G this year. Thats a long way behind LINX London with its 500+ members and nearly 8Tb of capacity but its pretty good for a second city in an European country as you can see from the EuroIX list.

In remembrance of the EIX WG I shall now leave you with a traffic graph…

exchange

Other peering week posts you might like to read include:

UK internet history – The Early Days of LONAP by Raza Rizvi
INEX’s IXP Manager – Tools to help manage an Internet Exchange by Barry O’Donovan
Regional Peering in the UK by James Blessing
Co-operation makes internet exchanges future proof by Pauline Hartsuiker
Experience of launching an IXP in North America by Ben Hedges
The evolution of an IXP network engineer by Rob Lister
Why does Scotland need an Internet Exchange? by Charlie Boisseau

Categories
broadband datacentre Engineer engineering internet Net peering

Why Does Scotland Need a Broadband Internet Exchange? #peeringweek

Almost a year ago exactly, an ambition I’ve had for a very long time came true.  It’s not a personal ambition (not exactly on my bucket list), but it’s an ambition I wanted the local Scottish Internet and broadband community to achieve.

After years of failed attempts, talking amongst ourselves in the community and generally making very little progress, on the 27th of March 2013, LINX held a meeting in Edinburgh to discuss the possibility of having an Internet Exchange in Scotland.  It was at that meeting that the community agreed to ask LINX to build what would become IXScotland.

One might wonder why Scotland needs an Internet Exchange of its own? 

Categories
datacentre Engineer internet olympics peering

Regional Peering in the UK

When I was asked to write a piece about regional peering I thought it would be a quick update on the current state of affairs in the UK. Alas with all these things I realised that I need to add a little back story. Feel free to skip over the content to the end if you know all the bits…

The Internet (and what its not)

Most people know the Internet is not a single entity but rather a collective of networks that use common standards to create a single network made up of independently run and managed networks that allow their customers and end users exchange traffic and therefore create the Internet and its public face – the World Wide Web.

Peering/Transit/BGP

At the edge of each network there are a bunch of routers that communicate with other adjacent routers belonging to other networks using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). At a basic level each network tells the other network what it knows about its network and (depending on commercial concerns) other networks it knows about using the BGP protocol. This information is shared in the form of “routes” which define a certain block of address space and how to get to it.

This leads naturally to a quick

Categories
datacentre dns Engineer internet servers

Diagnosing very slow website loading problem

downtime_graph_smallBeen having intermittent problems with trefor.net since moving the site to a new virtual platform at Christmas. It’s all sorted now. Thanks to the lads at the Timico Datacentre.

I asked Ian Christian to describe the issue and how it was resolved:

Well… explaining it is a little hard…. The key to figuring it out was this:

At the bottom of every page it shows when the page was generated, and how long it took. I suspect in wordpress somewhere it might have told you this too – but I’m not sure.

What we were seeing was

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre virtualisation

Joe Baguley of VMware is guest speaker at CTO Lunch

trefor davies with joe baguleyVMware CTO EMEA Joe Baguley was the guest speaker at my monthly CTO Third Thursday lunchtime discussion session yesterday. These are hugely useful debates over lunch on a subject relevant to today’s IT Director. We have a guest speaker and on this occasion it was Joe Baguley, CTO of VMware.

We heard about developments at VMware and the strategic direction in which the company is going. This isn’t good news for everyone. VMware are currently pushing out software defined networks and software defined data centres. The idea is that all the smarts are provided by VMware and all the end user IT Director has to do is provide low end commodity hardware. Not what the likes of Cisco, who are VMware partners, would want to hear.

The lunch lasted from 12.30 until 5pm so we covered a lot if stuff. I’ll leave you with one interesting snippet. Apparently Googler uses laptops for its cloud services. In this way if the power to the datacentre goes down the machine itself provides the UPS via its own battery. Innovative I say. I don’t know any more detail than that but it certainly sounds plausible.

The header is of me and Joe at the Timico Cloud launch earlier in the year. I forgot to take pics yesterday!

PS very personable bloke Joe 🙂

Categories
Business datacentre

Timico gets Royal Visitor – Duke of Kent

Coat_of_Arms_of_Duke_of_KentJust had a bit of a Royal visit from the Duke of Kent. He came over specially for a butchers’ because he’d heard of our growth/work with apprentices/new datacentre/NOC/awards etc etc etc.

I was a bit disappointed to see that his car didn’t have a flag. The last time I came across the Duke was at the Farnborough Air Show where I was his guest for lunch. At the time I was on the Exec of the Parliamentary Space Committee. Lunch was on the roof of the Society of British Aerospace Companies pavilion – the spot where the Harrier jump jet used to bow to.

I was there with a group of British and French MPs – members of their respective Parliamentary interest groups. We had an extremely informative and enjoyable afternoon at the end of which we all piled into the Jaguar courtesy cars to go back to the bus for onward ferrying to Westminster. All that is except me. There was no room!

“No problem” said an able assistant. He whipped the flag off the Duke of Kent’s Bentley and drove me to the bus himself. All of which is why I was disappointed the flag wasn’t to be seen anywhere. I guess the Bentley will be knocking on a bit now and his 7 series will be far more comfortable…

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre social networking

First #bloggade a big success

We held the first #bloggade at the Timico datacentre in Newark yesterday. A bloggade is as you may know the collective noun for a group of bloggers.

This first event was highly successful covering a range of blog related subjects:

1 The type of infrastructure used to host blogs (led by Timico hosting tech guru Michael Green) followrd by a guided tour of the Tiico NOC and datacenre.
2 A lengthy discussion on Search Engine Optimisation for your blog conducted by @phil_kelsey of Spiral Media and @mattdrussell of WebbHostingBuzz.
3 A general discussion about plug ins and which ones worked for people.

There was a great level of audience participation and a definite interest in holding another event, sometime in the run up to Christmas perhaps.

For a bit of fun we decided to have a go and see if we could get #bloggade to trend on twitter. Despite our intensive efforts it didn’t seem to be working. Then one of the bloggers suggested that if we tweeted that members of the currently in the news boy band “One Direction” had turned uo for #bloggade it might go viral. We did this and at the latest count have had a grand total of two retweets from (pre-pubescent?) OD fans. 🙂

Gotta say I’d never heard of em before this week!!!

Big thanks to all who came especially @mattdrussell whose original idea this was together with @phil_kelsey @jangles and @AndrewGrill for their major contributions.

All in all considering we organised this from scratch to execution in 4 weeks I have to say it was a great success.

Catch ya later.

PS this post was typed by thumb on my Galaxy s4 en route to a customer meeting in London.  I’d be amazed if the formatting is spot on – I’ll make any necessary adjustments when I get back to laptop land.

Categories
broadband Business datacentre

Calling OnLincolnshire businesses #godigital2013 opportunity to visit the cloud

an original picture of a cloudSuperfast broadband Lincolnshire – can your business afford to be without?

If you are a business in Lincolnshire you might well have noticed the noise that was created back in March with the announcement of the Superfast Broadband contract with BT. Well network rollout has been moving along and there is soon going to come a time when some of you will have to decide what to do with your shiny new broadband connection.

On Thursday 26th September Timico is holding an event at our Newark datacentre. A datacentre is basically where all the internet action happens. The types of service that you will access as a  business using your superfast broadband are all “manufactured” in one. You might have heard of the term “cloud” in respect of accessing online services. Well the Newark datacentre is part of the cloud.

The Timico event registration starts at 4.30 and will have three seminars/workshops covering

  1. what you can do with the datacentre/cloud,
  2. taking advantage of your superfast broadband with emerging phone technology (inc hands on demos)
  3. what you can do with online marketing and social media.

We will finish at 7.15. If you are a business about to get superfast broadband for the first time, attending this event will be time well spent at the end of your business day. It isn’t restricted to Lincolnshire businesses. Anyone can come.

To register your interest you can drop an email to [email protected] or get in touch with [email protected] Sandra runs our business “centre of excellence” and is a top source of information in this space.

The Timico datacentre is at the Brunel Business Park, in Newark. Bit more spiel here.

Superfast broadband Lincolnshire – how will your business use it?

Categories
Cloud datacentre End User social networking

We interrupt this vacation with a public service blog #bloggade

Trefor Davies (@tref/Timico/trefor.net), Matt Russell (@mattdrussell/WebHostingBuzz), Neville Hobson (@jangles/Neville Hobson/For Immediate Release) and Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill/Kred) cordially invite you to Bloggade, Newark, 21st August.

Bloggade, the collective noun for a gathering of bloggers, is a meeting of minds where you will learn tips and tricks about blogging and WordPress.

The focus of this first Bloggade is on the underlying technology that powers many WordPress blogs. You’ll experience a tour of Timico’s £5m Midlands datacentre that opened in 2012, and see at first hand the technology that powers the web including many WordPress blogs hosted with WebHostingBuzz at the datacentre.

We have round table discussions planned on WordPress hosting, hardware, search engine optimization and more, all addressing the topics from a non-technical perspective, but in the true round table spirit – anything and everything to do with WordPress is up for discussion.

Bring your questions, comments and experiences!

After the discussion, we’ll migrate to a top class local pub where light snacks and drinks will be provided courtesy of Timico. We hope to continue the WordPress-oriented discussion and share tips/success stories/ideas.

Agenda:

12.30 Arrive at the Timico Newark Datacentre – intros & coffee

13.00 Blogger round table – hardware, servers, hosting and more including a look at the latest WordPress release 3.6

14.00 Data centre tour

14.30 Blogger round table – SEO and how to your WordPress blog a highly effective business tool

15.15 Panel discussion – experiences and best practices for getting the most from the WordPress content management system

16.00 Migrate to pub for light refreshments (pub name/location tbc)

18.00 Refreshments finish, event ends.

Tickets, which are totally free of charge, can be found here

Travel Guidelines

The event is being held at the Timico Datacentre in Newark, NG24 2AG. If you are driving then you should come directly to that location where there is ample secure parking.  If you are coming by train – Timico’s HQ (NG24 2TN) in Newark is a 15 minute walk from Newark Northgate railway station (1hr 20mins from Kings X). This is an easy walk alogn a footpath that runs parallel to the railway line or a 2 minute taxi ride. The Datacentre and HQ buildings are next to each other.

There are trains every half hour or so from Kings Cross – the 11.08 will get you in at 12.30 which should be perfect timing unless you wanted to get there earlier and take in a little of “Historic Newark” beforehand.

Categories
Cloud datacentre Engineer

It’s too darn hot… not really

I’m sat in the pleasant luxury of my air conditioned office looking down at the melting tarmac in the car park. In the tenements of Newark the residents have all the windows open trying desperately to catch a breath of air. Most people don’t move though occasionally we see groups of street kids running in and out of a fire hydrant that is spraying water into the street. Heatwave!!!

You know the scene. You’ve seen the movie. It applies to Newark Nottinghamshire just as much as Newark New Joisey. Except as I say, I’m all right Jack. My aircon is working perfectly and I take an occasional sip of a cool drink filled with ice to add that perfect foil to the temperature outside.

Letting the imagination flow a bit here. The weather got me thinking about the cooling system in our Newark datacentre. It’s based on free air cooling which means that it uses the ambient outside temperature to cool the inside of the DC when it is lower than the spec for inside. At this time of the year the air conditioning units are kicking in on a regular basis whereas for a big chunk of the year they lie dormant. They kick in when it’s 22 Degrees Centigrade outside.

I was hoping to show you a graph of the power consumption of an ac unit relative to outside temperature but I haven’t got one handily logged. What I do have are graphs showing the liquid temperature in the outside cooling units compared with the controlled inside temperature.

We expect to see wide swings in outside temperature as we go through 24 a hour period but the inside temperature needs to stay nicely within a narrow band. Interesting to see that you can probably identify the cloudy and therefore slightly cooler days in the Newark area from the lower peaks in outside temperature.

Outside temperature:

outside_coolant_temp

Inside temperature (different, narrower scale):

inside_air_temp
I can’t go out with my baby tonight cos it’s too darn hot… except I can 🙂

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre

cool customer – hosting.co.uk

It’s quite nice to to talk about successful customer wins. I love the fact that we have big names like Honda, The Savoy Hotel, St John Ambulance, Murco, Travis Perkins and Informa on board.

These days as commerce moves onto the web the name of the company becomes more and more important because you have to be looking at optimum SEO performance.

So when a new customer comes along with a name like hosting.co.uk it is easy to get excited. It’s easy to guess what hosting.co.uk does. What’s more Google likes it. Search for “hosting” on Google and hosting.co.uk comes up on the front page. This is despite it being a new entrant to the market and up against established players like Rackspace, Godaddy et al.

I’ve met the guys at hosting.co.uk and they are real pros. It is a pleasure to host their equipment and I’d like to think that the fact that a business such as theirs has chosen the Timico datacentre is an endorsement of our own product. Check out their services. I think you will be impressed.

That’s all.

Categories
Cloud datacentre Engineer Net

Connectivity envy

It wasn’t so long ago that  I wrote a post asking who had the biggest home network. The winner was @NeilMcrae  see here for a reminder. So yesterday I was wandering through the corridors of the Timico Development Engineering building trying to find my way out when I came across Paul at his desk doing stuff.

From nowhere a stack of pizza boxes had appeared with enough ports to service a small ISP. “Setting up in business” I asked. Actually we have just decommissioned a couple of cages in Docklands and saved a lot cash in the process and some of the kit has appeared on Paul’s desk temporarily.

When I say a lot of cash I mean £100k a year. The equipment has all been moved to our Datacentre in Newark. Customers are paying less, it is costing us less. Everybody is happy (all clap).

If you want to move some of your kit out of docklands get in touch and perhaps take a look here. You know it makes sense. While we’re at it there is a really cool Timico cloud umbrella, with pictures of clouds inside it when you open it up, for the person who comes up with the photo showing the most switch ports on his or her desk. No cheating now.

connectivity envy

Categories
Cloud datacentre Engineer virtualisation

The Timico Virtual Datacentre #cloud #DCrevolution

I’ve had time to recover from the Timico Virtual Datacentre launch in London on Tuesday night. It was a great evening with a fantastic mix of people there from the IT Director community.

After the talks we had an “unconference” panel session where we discussed the issues of the day in the cloud. One of the things that came out of the discussion was the fact that whilst advantage of the Virtual Datacentre is massive scalability that can quickly be turned on, most standard enterprises don’t need these huge bursts of capacity.

What was interesting is the large increase in servers being used over recent years. One attendee said that he had increased server usage in his business fivefold in as many years. That’s 300 up to 1,500. The beauty of the virtual game is that it is easy and cost effective to do this.

So the question then arose “why not use AWS?”. The simple answer is “throat to choke” and service levels. With Amazon there is nobody to call when it goes wrong and no guarantees. Also AWS does not provide connectivity and the “embedding” of the server infrastructure in the connectivity infrastructure brings real performance benefits.

Another point that came out was the advent of the Platform As A Service. The Virtual Datacentre represents Infrastructure As A Service but starts ups these days don’t want to have to maintain infrastructure. They just want functionality. Office 365 and Google Apps are examples. PAAS is increasingly the domain of both very small and very large organisations whilst the mid-market likes to manage its own services and is the ideal candidate for the IAAS play.

The Virtual Datacentre is another key step for Timico in our onward march in the communications world. It is a sign of continued progress and investment and a recognition of the needs of our growing customer base. If you want to know more check out the Timico landing page here. Press release here. Thanks to Joe Baguley of VMware for his usual terrific talk.

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre

Timico launches Virtual Datacentre #DCrevolution

icetankGreat Launch event for Timico’s Virtual Datacentre last night at the Ice Tank in Covent Garden. There is a lot to say about this but I’m somewhat strapped for time today so I thought in the meantime I’d just share this video of the barmen setting up their cocktails before the guests arrived. You know it makes sense.

There is quite a lot going on generally at the moment including tension building up with the Snooper’s Charter (I refuse to call it by it’s real name, partly because I can never remember it and also partly because people are more likely to know what I’m talking about when I call it the snooper’s charter) in the run up to the Queen’s Speech.

I leave you with an invitation to click on the header photo. It’s the modern day equivalent of the whole school photo where one kid runs around the back and appears in the shot twice. On this occasion we have used the panaorama feature on the Samsung Galaxy S3 to create a very artistic effect:)

Thanks to all who came along to make the evening a great success and to Suzie Hodges for the camera shot:)

Ciao

Categories
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 trefor.net 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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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…

Categories
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

Categories
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? 🙂

Categories
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?), datacentres.com 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.

Categories
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…
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19441861

Some slides from Will and my presentation at the end of the event about the power and internet are here…. (50MB warning)… www.natmorris.co.uk/camp_network.pdf

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. http://stats.emfcamp.org

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…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nottinghack/7929611918/

Our onsite rack / data centre, housing dual core routers, wireless controllers, along with various servers:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nottinghack/7929611592/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andy_d/7902260210/

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’:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ne0hack3r/7924490940/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/je4d/7924689482/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/andy_d/7902347402/

Someone even colocated a Raspberry Pi along with a 3tb USB hard disc in one! http://www.flickr.com/photos/andy_d/7902345240/

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 http://t.co/rBsQUAn9

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

http://www.flickr.com/photos/b3cft/7909251802/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/loggedhours/7925212568/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/russss/7909193016/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nottinghack/7929909834/

Had some nice feedback!

https://twitter.com/Ash_Force/status/242067006537474048
https://twitter.com/markphelan/status/241896897290309633
https://twitter.com/je4d/status/242386884276396032
https://twitter.com/markphelan/status/242133609908142080

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.

Categories
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

Categories
Business datacentre

What do students and CEOs have in common?

One of the data halls at the new Timico data centre in Newark

Students from Lincoln University Computer Science dept visit the Timico datacentre in Newark I’m a fairly egalitarian sort of guy. CEOs from Nottinghamshire District Councils visit the new Timico data centre in NewarkIf someone says to me they have heard we built a new data centre and “can they come and see it please” I go all misty eyed and rearrange my diary to fit in. Whoever they are.

In the case of this post it is two hugely differing groups of people. The lot on the left threw away their ties after their ALevels as symbols of repression imposed on them by a controlling Establishment. They are first and second year students from the Lincoln University Computer Science Department. I was pleased to find out that among their courses they study are networking and virtualisation (plus the c-word).

The extremely respectable bunch on the right are clearly well practiced in smiling for the camera (Galaxy S2). They are the collected CEOs of all the District Councils in Nottinghamshire for whom we got out the good biscuits.

I enjoyed meeting both sets of visitors and have to say to the students that I’m sorry they didn’t get any biscuits but there weren’t enough packets to go round:). Thanks go to Timico’s Ian P Christian for the tour on both occasions.

Categories
Archived Business datacentre

Advertorial for Timico Managed Service Provider Partner Programme

Timico Manged Service Provider partners get a tour of the Newark datacentre facilitiesI realise that most of you reading this blog think that life at an ISP is exciting. We seem to only do fun things you say? Pigeon versus broadband racing, major industry parties at the London Transport Museum to celebrate the end of the IPv4 address space, Charity world record attempts, 4G testing on double decker busses in London, cake baking competitions, Christmas parties, offsite seminars in 5 star country houses etc etc etc.

You would of course be completely right. What you don’t necessarily see is all the nitty gritty hard work that goes on back stage that keeps the show on the road.

Categories
datacentre End User

photos from the surreal world of a CTO

Monty Python has nothing on thisThe smartphoneanonymous guest at Stapleford Park Hotel revolution continues. Probably the biggest single game changer has been  the incorporation of the digital camera. We all have memories  of photos taken during major world events, the Arab spring, the London riots and no doubt the coming London Olympics.

the two alternative forms of transport at the Stapleford Park HotelPhotos of the mundane can be just as interesting and unexpected. I offer here some shots from an average week at the Timico coal face. I’ve omitted some of the more exciting pics because wanted to give you a real feel for day to day work at a business ISP.back on the Monty Python theme

I’ve left out any shot containing the datacentre or the 24×7 NOC because these have so much coverage of late that I have a feeling people want to see other aspects of the job.

The Little Drummer Boy grows upAlso there is no point here in mentioning the fact that we won an ITSPA Award because I did that in this post and Vint Cerf is covered here.

So there you go. It isn’t a glamorous life but somebody has to tread that mill. The hotel, Stapleford Park, might want to get an expert in to sort out the damp that is clearly visible on that drum.

I don’t always get to stay at this type of hotel – sometimes they are fully booked  and I end up staying at the Kings Cross Travelodge as I did last night. There is a story behind that which  I will share with you next week1but you can picture the scene – living like a duke one day and being woken up by incessant noise of tube trains and the beep of reversing lorries the next. I’ll also be posting about some of the content of the #Timico2012 customer conference. V interesting stuff from Cisco, and O2 in particular.

That’s all folks.

1 I know, I know I’m such a tease.