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In 2006, at a conference in San Jose, Google CEO Eric Schmidt marked the beginning of a new era with some prophetic words: “there is an emergent new model… I don’t think people have really understood how big this opportunity really is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers… we call it cloud computing”. The rest, as they say, is history.
The arrival of cloud computing transformed not just the IT sector, but the day-to-day reality inside businesses worldwide. In the 2000s, many organisations still ran their own data centres, despite high operating costs and the constant need to monitor, maintain and refresh infrastructure. The cloud unleashed a move towards consumption-based IT, with organisations adopting resources as-a-service and on-demand to minimise expenditure, maximise scalability and drive agile innovation.
However, the exodus to the cloud didn’t eliminate the need for fast, reliable connectivity – it only exaggerated it. From finance to media, whole industries increasingly depended on high performance, low latency connectivity to critical cloud-based applications and services. Conversely, customers also came to rely on digital goods and services, from on-demand TV, to online shopping and social media.
In a fundamental sense, businesses were no longer brick-and-mortar, they became significantly or primarily digital. From Office365 to salesforce.com, essential business tools now lived in the cloud and agile access was a competitive necessity. Latency requirements rose enormously, with mere nanoseconds becoming the new standard.
Of course, security and performance demands also meant that not every application or service could be migrated to the cloud. Colocation offered the ideal solution, allowing organisations to retain control over certain infrastructure elements, but retire costly data centres or office-based servers to liberate both valuable real estate and employee time.
Given the location and connectivity surrounding Interxion’s London campus, it offered organisations the perfect nexus for cloud connectivity, enabling data to move between multiple infrastructure platforms quickly and easily. As the demand for mission-critical application hosting grew, we (Interxion) opened the doors of a second data centre, LON2 - adding another 1600m2 of equipable space to the London campus.
Securing the future
The increasingly business-critical nature of IT in the 2010s magnified the importance of security and resilience. Where peace-of-mind was once measured in four 9s and disaster recovery capabilities were considered good enough, organisations began to expect at least 99.999% guaranteed uptime and a seamless switchover to fully redundant backups if the worst happened.
Once again, colocation had a crucial role to play: our London campus ensured fully-redundant connectivity, power and cooling backed up by strict SLAs, proven compliance with industry standards and state-of-the-art systems to monitor and manage operations 24x7.
Physical infrastructure also needed to be better defended against insider threats and other growing security risks. Unlike office-based servers or on-premise data centres, which had to allow employees to come and go continuously, our London campus focussed on multi-layer physical security - including 24x7 security patrols, mantraps and more.
With the development of our Cloud Connect service, the London campus was also able to offer a more secure alternative to cloud connectivity via the public Internet, where data-in-transit can expose businesses to DDoS attacks, phishing, malware inflection and other online threats. By directly linking customers to private cloud access points in the same facility, organisations could bypass the public Internet entirely.
Building a smarter London
Today, thriving trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence continue to put the data centre at the heart of the digital economy. Indeed, we’ve reached an inflexion point where virtual services are now becoming integral to our real-world lives. To take just one example, driverless cars will demand low latency, high performance links between the network edge and the data centre. Slow or no connectivity could soon be a life and death issue.
To support the smarter, data-driven world of the 2020s and beyond, we are currently expanding the London campus again, with a £30 million investment in a third data centre, LON3, that will add 1,800m2 of new space.
With this launch, the campus will be ready to support the digital economy’s super-exponential growth and deliver the performance, security and resilience it demands. While the new data centre builds on our heritage of maximising customer choice with carrier-neutral power, space and cooling, it’s now also focused on supporting the connectivity requirements of a city - and a world - that is growing smarter by the day.