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Brexit – a short hop from the UK to the EU?

Since the United Kingdom declared its intention to leave the European Union, the news around ‘Brexit’ has consisted almost entirely of resignations and in-fighting or wild speculation about the future. But if you pick through some of the more responsible studies and articles focusing on the potential impact on business planning, it does look likely that, while it may not drive businesses away overnight, in time Brexit will open up more opportunities for continental Europe, and Amsterdam is likely to be one of the winners.

Eric Boonstra, Managing Director, EvoSwitch

As the dust slowly settles following the UK’s recent vote to end its 43-year membership of the European Union, it is still difficult to see exactly what will happen next. Working on the assumption that Brexit proceeds as originally envisaged in the referendum, what are the key questions and answers, firstly for business investment in general and secondly for IT infrastructure?

 

Q: Will we see a shift of investment?

A: Yes, but it is unlikely to be dramatic – more of a ‘continental drift’ than a sudden shift.

I believe we will see redirection of planned investment in jobs and locations to EU locations, rather than businesses packing their bags and getting the next flight out. There are signs this may be starting already: a number of leading businesses (Easyjet, Vodafone, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, HSBC1) have indicated their readiness to move to the continent, but more by way of reassuring investors than announcing concrete plans. Some external investors (Siemens and Visa have both made recent announcements) also seem likely to spend money earmarked for the UK elsewhere. Key factors here are likely to be:

 

– EU passported business activities: where the departure from the EU will inevitably lead to significant additional market complexity, for instance for airline operators and banks/financial service providers.

– Cost per employee: skilled international employees (e.g. programmers or designers from elsewhere in the EU) are likely to be more expensive in the UK in future.

– Electricity prices and security: this is of particular significance not only to the power-intensive data center industry but also to the emerging electric-powered era of smart cities and electric cars.  As a major importer of energy whose power prices are already high (in 2014, for example, a UK kW hour cost 76% more than a Dutch one2) the UK will need to tread very carefully and establish new secure energy planning that does not rely on current EU frameworks.

– EU-funded activities: these will definitely move, including ICT research projects in which the UK has shared. Some of these, like the €80 billion Horizon 2020 program, have huge budgets and also contribute to talent retention and generation.3

– EMEA HQ selection: this is potentially the biggest investment shift, as London has traditionally been the HQ city of choice for US tech businesses. These moves have to made with conviction, and while uncertainty over its commercial relationship with the EU lasts, it simply would not make sense to select the UK as a gateway to Europe.

 

Q: Which places are most likely to benefit?

A: Dublin, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. 

Dublin should do well where 100% English fluency is a critical factor or there is already significant investment in the country, which includes a large number of tech firms. Paris has size, standard of living and exceptional cultural attractions on its side, but there are (English) language, tax, transport and labour law issues. Frankfurt will have particular appeal to some financial players, with excellent transport and internet infrastructure, plus the fast-growing DEC-IX and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. For financial firms it runs a very close second to Amsterdam – at least that is what a recent New York Times piece4 suggests, awarding Frankfurt 54 points to Amsterdam’s 55. The author assessed a number of relocation-related factors – employment, transport and communications infrastructure, office and housing availability, schooling and culture/night life. It is ultimately subjective, but it makes interesting reading.

 

To these one might add a few infrastructure-specific factors:

– The Netherlands offers low energy costs (much lower than in Germany) and stable supply with high availability of renewables and exceptional levels of energy efficiency among newer data centers

– Amsterdam is home to one of the world’s leading Internet exchanges – AMS-IX – and is a landing point for 11 of the 15 transatlantic subsea cables.

– Amsterdam has a total of around 1.4 million square feet of datacenter space, with around 20% of this space currently available and rapid capacity growth.2

– The Netherlands is home to a third of Europe’s current multi-tenant data centers (by operational square feet)

– Amsterdam is perfectly located for transport as well as low-latency data reach, adjoining Germany and Belgium and just a short hop away from Europe’s biggest market – London.

 

In conclusion, I wish the UK well as they chart their course outside the EU. We all know it is impossible to predict investment trends with any degree of accuracy, and in a fast-changing world they have every chance of success. That said, it is reassuring for the Dutch workforce and its infrastructure and colocation providers to know that we can make a strong case as a European base for successful firms looking to expand, and also that this is appreciated and echoed on the other side of the Atlantic.

 

Further Reading

– Vodafone is threatening to move UK jobs to the EU, and Goldman says banking jobs could go’ – Oscar Williams-Grut, UK Business Insider1

– ‘These Companies Are Already Threatening to Move Jobs Out of the UK’ – Clare Zillman, Fortune Magazine1

– ‘Amsterdam Multi-Tenant Datacenter and Hosting Market: Market Forecast, Sept 2015’– Penny Jones and Rory Duncan 451 Research2

– ‘The British exit and tech: After the shock, uncertainty is the only certainty’ – Andy Lawrence, 451 Research3

– ‘After ‘Brexit,’ Finding a New London for the Financial World to Call Home’ – James Stewart, The New York Times 4

 

Eric Boonstra has been Managing Director of EvoSwitch since 2009.  His focus on attracting international customers to EvoSwitch has been helped by his multi-sectoral experience, which includes a degree in Law and senior management roles in Siemens, Staples and ABN Amro.  View full bio

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Beyond The Edge: Will you need Microsites?

As I mentioned before, the Internet of Things (IoT) is making new demands on data center infrastructure, and will create a functional division between ‘slow’ data at core facilities and faster analytics (and response) at datacenters on the edge, where the bulk of data is generated, aka ‘edge analytics’ . In this post I’d like to look briefly at analytics ‘beyond the edge’ – the ubiquitous super-fast processing and response IoT will demand in some industries. This looks likely to be delivered by a new breed of tiny off-the-shelf data centers or ‘microsites’.  Is your data disparate and ultra-latency-sensitive?  Will this mean you need microsites? If so, how might they feature in your infrastructure planning?

 

Patrick van der Wilt, Commercial Director, EvoSwitch

 

The logical next step

Edge Analytics – the location of automated, intelligent analytics near where the data is generated — is gaining widespread acceptance as a practical response to the data tsunami forecast from IoT.  Data that falls within normal parameters would be ignored or routed to lower cost storage for archival and regulatory reasons, while that which falls outside the norm could trigger an alert and be sent to a primary data platform like EvoSwitch for further analysis.  However, logically, service providers and enterprises in many industries will need to go further still, as pointed out in a recent piece by, Rhonda Ascierto and Andy Lawrence of 451 Research

 

Extending the edge

In essence, the paper, entitled ‘Datacenters for the Internet of Things: diverse, cloudy and connected’, takes the infrastructure argument and adds a new layer beyond the edge; a distributed network of ‘micro-modular data centers’.  These tiny sub-100kW self-contained prefabricated units – aka ‘microsites’ or ‘data centers in a box’ – would be located one step closer to the IoT action, gathering and processing particular latency-sensitive sets of data from sensors and IoT gateways. For manageability, the data would be triggered only if it stands out from the norm, and if every millisecond counts.  Not every IoT-enabled business would need this type of coverage, but for some applications – things like latency-sensitive mobile apps, distributed fire detection or vehicle and traffic management – it would be vital.

This graphic (with thanks to 451) captures the impact on infrastructure neatly:

IoT beyond the edge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early movers

It’s an interesting proposition, and while take-up is not currently widespread, some power operators (Schneider, Emerson) and public cloud providers (think Google ‘fiber huts’) are already moving in this direction.  As it begins its journey towards becoming a fully-distributed utility, the most important initial questions will be who is best placed to provide the microsites, how close together will they need to be, and how will they be integrated with existing infrastructure and services? The onus will be on power providers, major public cloud providers, and network service providers to partner up and invest, followed swiftly by the largest and most innovative enterprises and public sector organizations. Does that list include you?

Further Reading

– ‘Datacenters for the Internet of Things: diverse, cloudy and connected by Rhonda Ascierto and Andy Lawrence of 451 Research

– ‘IoT data analytics spurred on by big data’s expansion’ interesting short piece on the practicalities of upgrading vehicle data analytics applications.

 

EvoSwitch Commercial Director Patrick van der Wilt has more than 13 years of commercial experience in the data center market, having worked with TelecityGroup and IO.  The success of his sales and marketing strategies is dependent on profound market understanding and insights into the implications of the latest commercial trends. View full bio

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Edge Analytics – What, How, Where?

Internet of Things (IoT) is too big for traditional data processing solutions.  Edge analytics may be the key to exploiting the oceans of data it generates. Identifying critical data sets and processing them close to source will be critical to the success of new services, and for speed and compliance it is likely that a lot of this analysis will take place in edge data centers.

 

Patrick van der Wilt, Commercial Director, EvoSwitch

 

Here Comes the Flood

According to Gartner, IoT will include 26 billion devices by 2020. Organisations in virtually every industry are using these devices to drive higher levels of efficiency, reduce costs, generate new revenue, and understand customers at more granular levels. However, not all of these organisations are prepared to deal with the deluge of data they will bring. The huge amount of data streaming from IoT could easily saturate datacenter networks, storage and processing capacity.

Enter Edge Analytics. An increasingly popular way of addressing these challenges is to put automated, intelligent analytics at the edge — near where the data is generated — to reduce the amount of data and networking communications overhead. Data that falls within normal parameters would be ignored or routed to lower cost storage for archival and regulatory reasons, while that which falls outside the norm could trigger an alert and be sent to a primary data platform for further analysis.

 

Islands of Data

A section of this compute, storage and analysis could take place in the Cloud – for instance via specialist machine data analytics firms like Splunk or Sumo Logic.  But for a lot of organisations the data will need to be processed closer to source (and faster) in specialist edge data centers such as EvoSwitch facilities. This applies in particular where companies don’t want any of the compliance headaches of manipulating private customer data in the cloud.

 

The Prize on the Horizon

Enterprises who do not have a clear Big Data strategy by now need to get a move on. Recent research indicates that the majority of Fortune 1000 firms now have at least one instance of big data in production – twice as many as in 2013 – and over half are creating new senior data-specific roles, in particular that of Chief Data Officer.

At the service provider end the prize is even bigger. Cisco claim that in what they call the ‘Internet of Everything’ there is $4.6 trillion of ‘value at stake’. Whether or not you would go that far, the prize for the winning data processing solution will be huge, and all the leading players are forging ahead with their offerings. SAP are evolving their HANA database solution; Cisco has bought Cologne-based edge analytics specialist Parstream; Dell continue to work with Intel on their IoT Labs and IoT Gateway servers, and IBM and HP are both investing heavily.

The greatest prize will undoubtedly be in the interoperation of IoT networks; where one dataset meets another and they generate something new and valuable.  Today there are plenty of networks of data, but they don’t talk to each other.  Edge analytics -whether they take place in edge data centers or in the cloud – will be the key to realizing this value.

 

Further Reading

 

451 Research: Why IoT is Driving Analytics to the Edge of the Network– a short overview article by Jason Stamper of 451 Research

Information Week: Edge Analytics An Antidote To IoT Data Deluge

Information Week: Big Data Goes Mainstream: What Now?

 

EvoSwitch Commercial Director Patrick van der Wilt has more than 13 years of commercial experience in the data center market, having worked with TelecityGroup and IO.  The success of his sales and marketing strategies is dependent on profound market understanding and insights into the implications of the latest commercial trends. View full bio

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System Integration In A Multi-Cloud World

This article was written by Pim Bilderbeek from the METISfiles, who spoke at EvoSwitch’s event ”System integration in a Multi-Cloud World” last week.

 

Business leaders are looking at technology as a key strategic asset for dealing with the accelerated pace of change. Managers of customer facing business units are eager to unleash the full potential of Big Data. The cloud is becoming the connection between business and technology. How can IT services players harness the power of technology, information and the accelerating pace of business change?

 

MultiCloud

Instead of focusing on outsourcing human skills and labour they should deliver automated services sourced from the cloud and operated within a shared multi-tenant infrastructure. These services should not be driven and priced by business process and service levels but rather by solutions to problems and business outcomes.

 

Through positioning themselves as cloud integrators and orchestrators IT services vendors can continue to play an important role for their customers. While for some this means that they will remain distinctly local and provide their own private, hybrid and public cloud offerings, others have started to forge alliances with global cloud providers to complement their own offering.

 

In the longer term, smaller IT service providers will start to phase out their own private infrastructure. By that time they can no longer compete with the innovation drive and global scale that the larger players offer. Instead they will focus on Multi-Cloud management. This will not be an easy switch, but those who can make it will get tomorrow’s enterprise business.

 

You can download your free complimentary copy of Pim Bilderbeek’s presentation “Van BPO naar BPaaS” here. This is the presentation that Pim delivered at EvoSwitch’s event ”System Integration in a Multi-Cloud World” on the 24th of March.

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BaaS – Building the Fourth Pillar

Eric Boonstra, Managing Director, EvoSwitch

Business-as-a-Service built from multiple cloud service providers is the next major value opportunity for the Enterprise. Cloud-neutral colocation providers should be bringing service providers and system integrators together to encourage the next generation of solutions.

Baas Pillars EvoSwitch

image credit: 451 Research

 

As 451 put it in a recent analysis, the first three ‘as a Service’ pillars of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS all to some extent “mirror…existing technology towers that the market is used to outsourcing.”  But BaaS – or BPaaS as it is sometimes called – tests the vision, and the nerve, of managers and consultants.

Sharing infrastructure, networks or applications is one thing, but is the outsourcing of core processes a bridge – or rather a pillar – too far? Should you allow partners to manage customer-facing processes? And if you are offering BaaS, how do you overcome these concerns?

For those businesses that are already well down the IT as a Service road, BaaS is a natural next step.  BaaS builds on the collaborative model of working with external service providers to leverage the cloud technology stack provided through solutions like EvoSwitch OpenCloud

 

The Most Valuable Service of All

Value is the key driver – do the benefits outweigh the risks involved? In this respect BaaS should, by its nature, far outperform the other pillars. Rather than tackling a lower value ‘transferable’ service which can be seen as peripheral to the core business, BaaS delivers high value business outcomes. With BaaS you can quickly accomplish a goal using business services orchestrated, managed, monitored, run and hosted in the cloud. Costs and results are both easy to measure, bringing businesses closer to achieving the original transformational promise of cloud technology.

 

Putting the BaaS Offering Together

From the solution integrator’s perspective, these benefits definitely make BaaS a worthwhile challenge, particularly when using a third party cloud-neutral provider like EvoSwitch.  TCO becomes easy to track, there is no need for Capex on facilities, and there is instant, secure, low latency access to a vibrant ecosystem of NSPs and CSPs, including the specialist service providers needed to tailor service levels for specific clients.

 

Make Space in your Diary

We want to be where the new BaaS solutions emerge: as an ideal incubation and launch location for the next generation of BaaS solutions, it falls to cloud-neutral colocation providers like EvoSwitch to bring the key actors together. On Thursday 24 March in Haarlem, the Netherlands, we’re organizing a half-day event around ‘the changing role of traditional outsourcing (BPO) in a multi-cloud world’. If you are interested in attending this Dutch-language event,  you can register here.

 

Further Reading

> Katy Ring of 451 Research on the value of BaaS and the demise of traditional outsourcing. Download your free copy of the report here

> Pim Bilderbeek of TheMETISfiles on BaaS challenges and opportunities research (Pim will be speaking at our event)

 

Eric Boonstra has been Managing Director of EvoSwitch since 2009.  His focus on attracting international customers to EvoSwitch has been helped by his multi-sectoral experience, which includes senior management roles in Siemens, Staples and ABN Amro.  View full bio

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How to Get Ahead with Data Protection

Eric Boonstra, Managing Director, EvoSwitch

Data Protection is set to be one of this year’s main headaches. This month has seen announcements about both the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the EU and Privacy Shield agreement with the US, so progress is being made.   However for CTOs/CIOs on both sides of the Atlantic this means more new processes and potential shifts in strategy in an unsettled environment where there are no guarantees that today’s political agreements will turn into hard and fast law.

 

New Regulation, New Responsibilities

 

Following six years of discussion and debate a draft of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation has been released.  The new Regulation, set to become law in 2018, will replace the Data Protection Directive (DPD), but there are still many questions around implementation and interpretation.  Responsibility for data protection has been extended from data controllers to data processors and now includes businesses with no physical infrastructure in the EU that nevertheless do business here. There are strict new regulations on, among other things;

 

 

Data collection/consent, classification, disclosure and documentation.

Individual data protection; at collection, during migration (‘right to data portability’, and thereafter (time limits to holding data and ‘right to be forgotten’)

Notification regarding data loss or security incidents (‘right to know when you are hacked’)

 

 

With fines for breaches of up to 4% of global annual turnover (or €20 million, whichever is higher), you don’t want to run the risk of non-compliance when the regulation launches.

 

EU-US Privacy Shield: Political Progress

 

Companies are also watching with some anxiety as the tug of war between US and EU data protection standards continues.  This month saw the provisional announcement of the new EU-US Privacy Shield agreement. The new agreement promises to enforce more ‘robust obligations’ on firms with access to personal data, with safeguards and transparency on US government access and a new ombudsman to handle user complaints. However, as with the defunct Safe Harbor agreement which it replaces, the new agreement could be overturned in the EU by both the CJEU (The European Court of Justice), or by individual national Data Protection Authorities.

 

Infrastructure Impacts: Securing your Clouds

 

From an infrastructure perspective, providers like EvoSwitch can offer a mix of solutions to support our customers’ data protection needs as they change.  With constantly expanding colocation space in both the EU and the US that meets the most exacting international security standards, secure data storage in the appropriate geography is not an issue.  For companies looking for a hybrid solution, the new focus in the regulation on the data ‘processor’ rather than data ‘controller’ is good news, as it shifts some responsibility for data handling and documentation to Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), and many CSPs are already well positioned to address the regulations through a mix of best practice and certifications.

 

Choose your Clouds Wisely

 

Choice is key here to ensure your CSPs are not only compliant but sufficiently agile to adapt to a regulatory environment that is still evolving.  This is something which, with some 25 CSPs including all the major public cloud providers, the EvoSwitch OpenCloud delivers.  The broad ecosystem we offer will avoid vendor lock-in, giving you strategic flexibility well beyond the start date for the GDPR, and enables you to leverage Public Cloud for less latency-sensitive data or applications, while keeping other data in a Private Cloud, for compliancy or latency purposes.

For more information and to request access, please visit https://opencloud.evoswitch.com

 

Further Reading

Short analysis by 451 of EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement: Download the full report here.

Summary of Draft EU Data Protection Regulation by 451: Download the full report here.

European Commission press release on EU-US Privacy Shield read here.

Two-page Article from Forbes on Privacy Shield Timeframe & Conditions by Lisa Brownlee here.

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