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November 23, 2015updated 22 Aug 2016 5:33pm

Mega mergers good news to independent UK colo data centres

C-level briefing: Jonathan Arnold, MD at Volta Data Centres, talks being disruptive to win in a crowded market.

By Joao Lima

With so many data centre providers in and around London, competition is increasing at an astonishing rate and colos are having to find new ways to survive.

Jonathan Arnold, MD at Volta Data Centres, said that as the big players acquire and merge, this is sending out a good business wave to smaller independent colos, like Volta.

"For an independent it is good news [Equinix buying Telecity, Digital Realty buying Telx] because while these huge corporate organisations merge together, they will have to go through their various settings of integrating.

"Customers would be very concerned about what would actually happen to them, from a pricing perspective, and so on. We see that as a great opportunity for an independent.

"The demand that we have seen out of that over the last two, three months has been quite significant."

As more customers sign into its hubs, Volta is also not discarding future expansions, even outside the UK.

"Our strategy is very much about getting additional sites, although, as with any investment, you need ROI and we have only been in operation for two years.

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"Our plan is ultimately to get additional sites. Where they will be is early to tell at the moment. Whether they will be in the UK or in a different place we just do not know."

While the future is still being decided at the company’s headquarters in the City, Arnold said that customers are changing their preferences in terms of where their data centre sits.

He said: "You always have some people that do not want to be in London, however we do not see a huge challenge of being located in Central London. I think the days that the data centre has to be a huge distance away from us are over.

"I do not believe people today think they have to be 30, 40 miles away from their data centres. We are seeing more demand for being local."

"We see a lot of customers in London, that usually require more than one site but their engineers, IT staff are frustrated to travel long distances, wasting two hours travelling there, two hours travelling back."

"They want [to be local] to go there and do work in a regular basis, and that saves a huge amount of time and expenses."

As for 2016, pure-play colo Volta is planning to add its fifth data floor in London. Arnold said: "We do not rely on being disruptive, but I think it is important that we are out there challenging and changing the way data centres operate."

As the world gets more dependent on IT and consequently on data centres as "nearly everything sits in a data centre", colos need to ensure that their infrastructure is built in a resilient way, otherwise, with the growth of IoT a failure could become "an absolute disaster".

"Data today is far more valuable to businesses than it was ten years ago, in another five years time will be even more valuable. To lose access and availability to that would be potentially catastrophic for some businesses."


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