Reflecting on the year gone by: The LDeX Group 2014 highlights

Rob Garbutt LDeX Group

Reflecting on the year gone by

So far this year, we have heard commentators give their views on everything from the regulation of drones to how companies can turn vast quantities of data into actionable insights through Big Data analysis. Technological forces such as the Internet of Things have caused major concern amongst IT executives with Gartner reporting that there will be over 40 billion connected devices in 2020. These forces will no doubt have a significant impact on the way that datacentres operate going forwards and providers will need to adequately prepare their networks and infrastructure.

It is clear to see that heightened awareness of these issues have set the wheels in motion as to what the key priorities will be for 2015. More corporate decisions will need to be made on whether or not to outsource company servers, systems and infrastructure to a trusted colocation provider.

With this in mind, it has also been a good year for the retail colocation industry with CBRE reporting that the highest take-up of colocation services was recorded in London, Europe’s largest market, with a total of 7.2MW being sold during the third quarter. This year, LDeX has experienced significant growth with more and more companies demanding flexible, scalable, bespoke and agile solutions which tailor to their needs. We decided to give you a taster of what have been the best moments for us over the past year!

Key highlights from LDeX Group

Over the past 12 months, LDeX Group has undergone a number of key changes in establishing itself as a London based colocation provider to a national datacentre operator in the United Kingdom.

Acquisition of Ping Networks Ltd

In November 2013, we acquired a successful managed communications services provider, Ping Networks, in order to enhance the group’s position as a colocation and network connectivity operator. Since then, the company has been able to leverage the expertise of staff qualified to CCIE level in managing and monitoring all network activity.

Formation of LDeX Group

Shortly after this announcement, the group was formed and both LDeX and LDeX Connect became subsidiaries of the group. Since then, we have attracted an array of tier 1 and tier 2 carriers and ISPs to the LDeX1 datacentre based in Staples Corner.

Increased focus on Marketing

In early February, we employed a Marketing Manager who has since enabled us to position ourselves as a national datacentre operator in the UK through a series of well thought integrated marketing, PR and social media campaigns, initiatives, press releases and thought leadership opinion pieces.

Deck the halls with racks and servers

With the increase in demand for colocation services, we managed to fill our second hall DC2A. We also built our third data hall DC2B to give existing and new clients the flexibility needed to scale operations according to customer demand.

Strong financials

We have again enjoyed a very good trading period with Group revenues having grown by 81%. As we have developed our media and streaming platform we have always been very focused on profitability and cash generation. In this period our overall group adjusted EBITDA percentage margin has grown to 42%.

Expansion news

We have been busy finalising arrangements to fit out our second datacentre in Manchester. There will be lots of exciting announcements leading up to the launch next year with lots of carriers coming on board. Stay tuned to find out more.

First ever award entry

This year, we put forward our very first LDeX Group award entry, which came runners-up for ‘Colocation services offering of the Year’ through a public vote. We were absolutely delighted to have done so well and we look forward to going on to enter and win lots more next year.

Investors in People Award

In November 2014, we were delighted to be awarded the Investors in People (IIP) accolade for best practice in employee engagement, having developed the company’s internal communications function over the last six months. Through best practice, we have aligned ourselves with Investors in People to ensure that LDeX Group is an attractive place to work for both existing and new employees.

Deloitte EMEA Fast 500

In November, we made an announcement that we were ranked number 189th on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA 2014, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in EMEA. Rankings are based on percentage revenue growth over five years. As an expanding datacentre operator, our growth has come as a result of our acute focus on providing best in class customer service as well as the team’s commitment to operational excellence.

Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50

Being ranked as the 31st fastest growing technology company in the United Kingdom at this year’s Deloitte Fast 50 awards was a definite highlight for us. The prestigious accolade was awarded to our growing company having achieved an exponential revenue growth of 897% over the last five years.

With a busy year ahead, we would like to take this opportunity to say a big thanks to all of our customers who put their trust in us to deliver their mission critical services.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!

All the best,
Rob Garbutt

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The Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 winners: What makes these companies special?

Anne-Marie Lavelle LDeX Group

The Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 winners: What makes these companies special?

Last Thursday, tech visionaries from across the UK gathered to celebrate the growing success of their respective organisations, both large and small, in the Montcalm Hotel for the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 awards. It ranks the 50 fastest growing companies in the UK based on their revenue growth rate over the last five years. Having guided companies through the harshest economic recession to date, it was remarkably evident that these leaders could not have succeeded without bold and flexible strategies, talented people that enable growth and having access to suitable sources of finance.

At this year’s awards, the winning company, Switch Concepts achieved a remarkable five year growth rate of 10,477%*, leading the pack in showing businesses how to succeed in a difficult tumultuous financial climate. The average five year growth rate across all the companies reported on the night was 1,695%*.

These numbers emphasise the importance of having a Chief Executive Officer who has a clear vision for the organisation and a team behind him/her which is focused on driving the company to succeed through hard work. Most importantly, having a CEO who has the ability to foresee demand, knows which geographical markets to target and who also has the capacity to build a strong target customer base is key to organisational success as it inspires staff to do likewise and build connections (formal and informal) in the industry.

Bold and flexible business strategy

According to the Deloitte CEO Fast 50 entrants survey, 60%* of respondents claimed that a sound business strategy was the primary factor in determining a company’s success. This includes having the ambition to succeed and the foresight about knowing where to play, how to win and when to tailor strategies when needed. 56%* of CEOs at this year’s Fast 50 had businesses with headquarters in London, which shows that there is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs, looking to set up a business in the technological hub of Europe. However, there was also substantial growth from regions in the UK such as Scotland (12%)* and the South East (10%)* with businesses such as Switch Concepts and Skyscanner doing particularly well.

Over the next three years, it is expected that the biggest opportunities for growth will be Western Europe (50%)* and North America (69%). In the UK, this growth is not exclusive to any one sector, with 52% of growth expected in Software, 30%* expected in Internet, 8%* in Telecoms, 4%* in electronics, 4%* Media and Entertainment and 2%* in Green Tech.

How LDeX Group has succeeded

Having sold off a successful Manchester based datacentre to Telecity Group PLC in 2011, the founders of LDeX Group had a clear vision that they would like to replicate the success of the company and become a national datacentre operator based in London with an acute focus on customer service and operational excellence. The company has since gone from strength to strength as a colocation and network connectivity operator, having acquired managed communication services provider, Ping Networks, in 2013.

In recent years, the company has grown at an exponential rate of 897% and are a leading name in their sector. Rob Garbutt (CEO), Paddy Doyle (COO) and Simon Chamberlain (CTO) attribute growth to having a clear vision as to how to succeed in the market and develop the business going forward. It is also highly focused on taking care of customers and employing high calibre staff, which possess a mixture of both technical and commercial expertise, who have a keen desire to learn and be part of the company’s success. At this year’s awards, the company was ranked 31st fastest growing company overall and 12th in the UK Internet sector.*

Talented people

In today’s fast paced technological environment, it’s not only about finding the technical talent who are able to perform the day to day technical tasks, it is about sourcing people who can be developed and have the skillset to translate the worlds of business and technology to stakeholder groups. People want to be able to feel that they are making a difference in their role and add value to the organisation, giving them ample opportunity for career progression.

Inspiring success and knowing what makes people tick

The key to being a successful leader is showing others in the organisation how to succeed in their role and how to get to where they want to be in their career. It was clear to see at the Deloitte UK Fast 50 awards that there were many inspirational leaders in the room, with a clear focus on attracting the right staff and in turn have promoted them through the ranks to career success.

Each of the CEOs started off their businesses with a certain amount of capital, staff and resources. Through determination, hard work and strong leadership skills, these companies have grown at an exponential rate over the past five years. This has been as a result of recruiting key staff that have grown with the business and built relationships with stakeholders and customers. It is these people who have created exciting new solutions and markets for businesses.

Fostering innovation

Employees want to be able to feel that the organisation fosters a culture of innovation enabling staff to carry out their jobs and report back with progress updates. These Fast 50 leaders understand people’s motivations and help them get to where they want to be in their career through additional training (external or internal) and/or giving them challenging and rewarding tasks where they can prove their success in the organisation.

Traditionally in the technology SME sector, there has been a shortfall in skills with CEOs identifying a lack of new talent with relevant skills as the greatest threat to growth over the short and longer term (19% in the next 12 months, 24% in five to ten years’ time)*. However, with programmes such as STEM amongst others in place, this should hopefully be addressed in the future and help organisations in finding the right people with the right skills through adequate awareness of how these jobs can make a difference to the economy.

The Deloitte Fast 50 CEO survey reflected this with 41% of CEOs identifying employee talent, having a culture of innovation (41%)* and strong leadership skills (26%)* as the key factors of success. What is fantastic to see is that all of these companies are based in the UK.

Suitable Sources of Finance

The Fast 50 companies had a clear understanding of the financing options which were available to them and how they could ensure cash flow and continued revenue growth over the next 12 months. Similar to LDeX Group and detailed in the Deloitte survey, eight of the top 10 would classify themselves as owner funded. Other companies are expecting to access venture capital or private equity funding in the next 12 months.*

Over the past 17 years, the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 programme has been dedicated to recognising those businesses that have defied the odds and entered a phase of vigorous and sustained growth over the last five years.

Final thoughts

Start-ups in the United Kingdom should look to emulate the success of the Fast 50 companies by looking into their common characteristics as outlined above. Recruiting the right people to take your business forward, sourcing the capital to make it happen, looking after your customers as your business grows and having the right leaders on board will hopefully enable your business to be a Deloitte Fast 50 winner in the coming years.

As a manager at LDeX Group, it was my absolute pleasure to be in the presence of these technology leaders on Thursday and I’m looking forward to seeing these organisations thrive and succeed going forward.

Source: *Deloitte LLP – Defining fast tech growth – Fast 50 community – CEO survey

For more information, please contact marketing@ldexgroup.co.uk

Anne-Marie Lavelle, Group Marketing Manager, LDeX Group

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Factors to consider when choosing a data centre provider

Simon Chamberlain LDeX Group

Factors to consider when choosing a data centre provider

Simon Chamberlain speaks to the team at LDeX Group about the factors which he considers imperative when looking to choose a data centre provider.

If someone were to recommend a data centre, what would their recommendation be based on?

Most probably on whether the DC is “Tier 3″, well connected, secure, has reliable and sufficient power, and is in a suitable location. All are important considerations, however the most usual reason for choosing a DC comes down to price. As long as the usual boxes are ticked, everything comes down to which provider can provide the most cost effective solution – which is of course is perfectly reasonable.

As someone who has worked extensively with data centres over the past 15 years or so, I have found that the one thing that really differentiates them is service. Some data centres do not match up to expectations once the all important contract is signed. When it comes to getting problems resolved or connectivity provisioned they just don’t want to know or will charge you through the nose.

There are several scenarios where service becomes absolutely critical. Imagine you have a colocated server that suddenly goes offline. In no uncertain terms, this is clearly a panic stricken situation. Customers start calling, and there is severe time pressure to get to the bottom of what is going on. You might have invested in several layers of resilience and probably promised 100% uptime to your customers, but if you get hit by a DDoS attack or hacked by a disgruntled employee, then you’re a dead duck. At these critical times you need help and quickly. This is when the DC service centre really makes a difference. Can your DC really get someone in front of your cab in five minutes with a laptop and a remote login? Do they have a 24/7 NOC that can troubleshoot any connectivity issues at any complexity quickly and efficiently? Or is it going to be quicker for you to drive to the DC and try and figure out things for yourself?

You maybe thinking that critical situations are (thankfully) rare and your business can survive the odd outage. Service isn’t just about critical situations though – it’s about the day to day running of your colocation. It’s about upgrading kit, getting patch leads installed, IP transit installed. Can you send hardware to your data centre that is securely stored and then installed by a trained technician? Is there a technician who is constantly keeping you in the loop at all times? Can you get a cross-connect installed within an hour of requesting it? Does your DC provide connectivity solutions where the NOC will contact you if there is a problem, before you know one exists?

Does such a data centre even exist? Well yes it does, and it’s called LDeX . Of course, as a director of LDeX you would expect me to say that, but I can honestly say that LDeX really does deliver on this front. If you don’t believe me, talk to our customers. Having conducted a recent customer satisfaction survey, it revealed that our average score for service is 9/10, and this is the biggest reason we have such a low churn rate. It’s part of our ethos and why we are successful in a competitive market.

That’s all very well and good I hear you say, but surely most data centres have all that covered. Well unfortunately they don’t. Typically cross connects in our competitor data centres take between five and ten days to deliver. Some DCs don’t even provide remote hands, or if they do, the skill level is often questionable. Some are bogged down in process and red tape. Getting permission to do anything can take days or even weeks to sort out. This is why is it crucial to work with a data centre that provides efficient and impeccable services levels at any time of day. The really great news is LDeX also ticks all the regular boxes and is one of the best priced colo providers on the market supplemented with superior connectivity from top tier connectivity providers backed up by an onsite 24/7 NOC.

There is a really great feeling about having happy customers and that’s why we pride ourselves on our customer service.

To find out more about LDeX see www.ldex.co.uk , or get in touch on +44 (0)207 183 3959.

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LDeX Tech 60: 60 second interview with Dominic Campanaro, MD of Switch Communications

LDeX interview with Dominic Campanaro

LDeX Tech 60: 60 second interview with Dominic Campanaro, MD of Switch Comms

Dominic Campanaro, Managing Director of data services provider Switch Communications, speaks to the team at LDeX about his background in tech, how his company managed to become the success that it is today and his predictions about what forces IT departments will need to address in 2025.

Could you give us an insight into your background and how you got into the technology industry?

Having graduated with an honours degree in aeronautical engineering from London’s City University, I quickly realised that a career in engineering was not for me and ended up ‘falling’ into sales. Following a successful career which took me from selling photocopiers to telecoms equipment, I took the bold step of setting up my own business and Switch Communications was subsequently born.

Tell us about the company you work for?

We recognised that technology and the resources required to deliver efficient systems were changing radically and have been pioneers in developing systems and networks to help our customers improve their businesses through the use of technology. Our clients needed a trusted partner to deliver integrated managed services in the most efficient way possible. This resulted in the integration of our voice and data service capabilities and the eventual investment in the creation of a market leading core network with our very own cloud based IP platform.

In 2012, we added a cloud based hosted voice solution which increased our reach in the VoIP market. With the addition of this solution, we expanded our executive team and have gone on to become a leading name in the industry.

Switch Communications was established over two decades ago as the main reseller of Alcatel equipment. Between 1996 and 1997, the company began to expand with two asset purchases of system customer bases from Alcatel. Following this, the company acquired R&R Communications which doubled our revenues and extended Switch’s reach into Wales.

In 2003, we developed Switch IP which enabled us to enhance our offering with the delivery of WAN, VoIP and network connectivity solutions. In 2007, Switch acquired Leycom Communications which strengthened our presence in Wales and enabled us to become one of the market leaders in the region.

Apart from your own company, which other organisation do you admire the most?

I would have to say Exponential-e as it is a company which is quite similar to Switch Communications. With a core vision that IP and Ethernet is the future of networking and telecoms, the company has gone on to be extremely successful through organic growth, which is extremely rare in the industry.

What do you see as the biggest drivers of change in the datacentre market?

Application management and the explosion of end user demand for tailored services, specific to business and end user client need, have driven a massive expansion in the requirement for centralised compute resource. Whether this is private and hosted on a business’s own infrastructure or publicly sourced from a cloud software provider the reliance on distributed information sources is increasingly a major benefit and a risk to business. Interconnection between service providers and the method of delivery to the applications end user has resulted in the need to review the efficiency of the IT infrastructure supporting all the interwoven applications.

Datacentres are at the core of this change and are the most efficient method of delivering services to office sites and remote workers. As the use of applications continues to grow at an exponential rate, security concerns will be heightened making data privacy a primary concern. Datacentres are critical to this growth and the low latency performance, security and cost efficiency which they deliver are critical to the efficient use of IT services.

Where do you see the industry being in 2025?

Up in the clouds?

Seriously – probably more mobility in terms of personalised devices

With the number of devices connected to the internet expected to increase exponentially to 40 billion in 2020, IT departments need to ensure that they will have accurately forecasted the capacity and bandwidth required for hosting the growing number of applications in their datacentres. Employees expect seamless access to necessary software and enterprise resources from a variety of devices, regardless of who owns them.

As it stands, the much talked about Internet of Things has caused a frenzy amongst colocation providers with regards to the security requirements which will need to be in place to cope with the enormous amount of data which will be transferred between devices without human intervention.

More hosted solutions

I predict that more hosted solutions will be available to enterprise customers in 2025, helping them to achieve their business goals. As well as this, the market for VoIP and remote desktop will become more competitive with more vendors looking to increase their market share. Competition and price pressure will create innovation. Anyone who stands still and doesn’t listen to consumer demand will end up delivering a me-too product. We are innovators and are constantly adapting to deliver the services our customers need as their businesses evolve. Many of our deployments are bespoke and we take pleasure in delivering value specific to their needs.

Wi-Fi to be more readily available and increased take-up of cloud use in the SME market

WiFi services will be more widely available and there will be an increase in the take-up of cloud solutions, particularly from smaller vendors in the SME market.

What is the greatest challenge for an IT department today?

Keeping abreast with technological advancements

With new technologies being developed by the day, IT departments will need to ensure that staff are trained in line with these system advancements to keep up with customer expectations and requirements. As it stands, technological advancements are outpacing existing skillsets and expertise in the IT department. This is an ongoing issue which needs to be addressed. Interdependence of applications, many of them cloud based, will create increased security risks for business.

More and more companies will outsource their hosting requirements to cloud and colocation providers, which will enable in-house IT departments to focus on aligning the company’s IT strategy to the corporate vision.

With a growing mobile workforce, the company will need to continue to have processes in place to mitigate against network attacks and data loss.

Increasingly legislation and corporate responsibility for data management will increase pressure on the corporate IT department to outsource technical services to a trusted partner so that they can focus on the efficiency of their core business.

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Time is running out: LDeX Connect CTO shares his thoughts on the Internet Routing Table

Time is running out: LDeX Connect CTO shares his thoughts on the Internet Routing Table

Simon Chamberlain, CTO of LDeX Connect, gives his thoughts on the Internet Routing Table.

Recently, a somewhat anticipated problem, somehow managed to (ironically) creep up on the Internet Service Provider community, causing panic amongst many network engineers all over the world. The problem being that outdated infrastructure, which is still widely relied upon, ran out of sufficient memory to store the full Internet routing table. This resulted in a spike in outages leaving users unable to access Internet resources.

Despite having several years to prepare, network engineers rushed to make last minute configuration changes and performed hardware upgrades as routers and switches fell over left, right and centre. This event sparked widespread attention amongst the global media as it was the third time this century that the Internet had broken through such a threshold. The number of routes surpassed 128,000 around 2003 and 256,000 in 2008, each causing disruption for those who failed to update their networking equipment.

As the CTO of an ISP myself, it’s interesting to observe how this ‘ticking time bomb’ of a problem could have taken the Internet community by surprise. It’s almost a self-imposed denial of service attack – perhaps we should spend at least the same amount of effort as we do patching software bugs and vulnerabilities, keeping infrastructure up to date.

The Internet Routing Table

To give some insight, the Internet comprises of prefixes allocated to organisations which are subsequently distributed across the Internet using routers and switches operating Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). Recently, the amount of memory required to hold all the prefixes exceeded the 512Mb threshold. This caused a problem for many legacy routers with only 512Mb of memory installed.

What took many ISPs by surprise was the fact that Cisco’s flagship Sup-720 supervisor engine (for many years) was affected, even with 1GB of RAM installed. No doubt many network managers presumed that this would be plenty and failed to give the issue a second thought. Most network support staff on the other hand, were too busy with the usual firefighting I suspect.

So, what happened?

By default, Cisco (out of the box) only allocates 512MB of the Sup-720 supervisor memory to IPV4 prefixes. 256Mb of memory is allocated to IPV6 and the rest left unallocated. In my view, it’s a simple process to reallocate memory to IPV4 with a few lines of configuration, but here’s the gotcha – the system needs rebooting. Cisco has of course advised that network operators reassign some of the memory in their routers and switches and reboot. However, when it’s 10am and your router is about to fall over, the last thing you want to do is reboot it and suffer a total outage.

Luckily for us at LDeX Connect, we reconfigured our Sup 720s memory allocation when they were installed in anticipation, but to be fair I can’t criticise any ISPs who were caught out.

It’s my belief that the Internet is a living breathing monster of a creation and very difficult to tame. Every so often, something unexpected happens that you thought you were completely prepared for and then you’re caught by surprise. Unfortunately it’s not a view often shared by Management!

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