Mark Pestridge, Director of Sales at Telehouse Europe, tells us how things have changed in the 30 years since we opened our first facility in London — and what the growing demand for data centres will mean for the future of the Telehouse business model.

It all started with us being the first colocation provider in the UK and Europe. Obviously, in 1990, the world was very different and, back in those days, we were designing data centres to pull a maximum about half a kilowatt per footprint. Times have changed massively.

Within four years Telehouse North became home to LINX, the London Internet Exchange, and we are very proud of the fact that they have not had a single minute of downtime since they went live with us.

30 years later, Telehouse operates more than 40 sites across more than 20 cities — our newest facility came online in 2016 — and it counts more connectivity providers, internet exchanges and cloud providers in our data centres than anybody else.

All the changes that have happened in the last 30 years around deregulation, the internet explosion, content, streaming, cloud provision, have seen a huge shift in what we are doing; this is what we have based our USPs around.

Today the focus remains on our primary markets: London, Paris and Frankfurt, where the biggest and busiest facilities are. Graduating from the traditional wish list of agility, flexibility and efficiency, our customers now want wholistic deployments, migrations, connectivity and, of course, security. As a result, our goal is to deliver a five-star data centre service.

What we are also seeing is enterprise customers beginning to understand that co-locating in a multi-tenant data centre gives them economies of scale, efficiencies, and enables them to leverage some of the cloud providers while housing their back-office environment in a facility they can manage remotely. That has come to the fore in the last nine months where IT staff have not been able to get to city centre offices.

The future is green

By IDC estimates, by the time Telehouse North was 22 years old there were 500,000 data centres globally, and while they each had their own customer profiles and USPs, combined they were making significant contributions to energy consumption.

Today, IDC counts eight million data centres and the International Energy Agency reported that in 2019 they were responsible for 1% of global electricity use — although it was highlighted this would have been far higher without the intervention seen in recent years.

We have to be cognisant of our obligation to the planet whilst making sure we can deliver and help to deliver the things that make life more enjoyable and make people more interconnected.

Telehouse’s environmental journey can be traced back to 2008 when Telehouse Europe became the first purpose-built colocation facility to gain ISO:14001, the internally recognised environmental management system. By 2011 we achieved Carbon Trust Standard Certification and today the London facilities are 100% powered from renewable sources.

The green agenda is front of mind for everybody, so we are spending more time and money on this. In London that translates to retrofits and new cooling technology, among other methods — just because the energy is renewable, it does not mean that it can be wasted.

Heading the sustainability strategy for Telehouse in the long term is our Energy and Environmental Manager Carolina Uribe, who is responsible for working with government bodies and regulatory agencies to ensure we are being as proactive as we can be in driving green initiatives. The next initiative? Expanding to colder climes that are easier — and cheaper — to cool. But that isn’t just about the environment.

Density vs space

Whilst the demand for interconnected city centre sites will remain high, there will be an opportunity for other types of out of town deployments which do not rely on that level of interconnection and where customers can take advantage of less expensive real estate, land and power.   We will also see some unique requirements for very high bandwidth in very small spaces. We may see deployments where a customer wants just one rack with 75KW, for example, and you can understand the type of requirements what would drive that. Consequently, I see a drive to move to locations that have a colder climate, as it is easier to cool equipment, and therefore less drain on the environment

Looking forwards, Telehouse remains committed to its role as the most interconnected data centre in Europe and one of the top colocation providers in the UK, and by default that means we remain committed to our existing and future customers as they expand and grow. Significant investment is key to this commitment and in August we announced a fifth facility would be built at the London Docklands campus. This will add 31,000 sqm of colocation space and 500 racks and  is scheduled to open in early 2022.

Ten years ago, we would never have thought about the current technology (IoT, AI, connected cars) driving what we do. What will be the new technologies that help drive what consumers need in another 10 years’ time?  As we look forward to the data centre market in 15 years’ time, it is my belief there will always be a demand for the highly connected, city centre data centres that we have today. Netflix, YouTube, connected cars all rely on being close to that connectivity, so there will continue to be demand for city centre, connected data centres, and we will continue to be at the heart of that.