Do you really want to give up your freedom?

It continues to amaze me that people choose to house their servers in data centers owned by telecom operators.

Carrier-neutral data centers allow a great deal more freedom of movement.

Network-neutral data centers offer meet-me rooms, where you can have redundant connections to a number of different operators.

 

Every type of connection is possible. And if, say, one network provider suffers a malfunction, you can fall back on your connection to another network provider that is unaffected.

As an independent (i.e. carrier-neutral, cloud-neutral and system integrator-neutral) data center, LCL is connected to more than 30 carriers, using MPLS, IP VPN, internet backbone (IP Transit), dark fiber, BNIX, Voice over IP or video connectivity services.

A fiber cut recently occurred in Zaventem when a contractor accidentally drilled through some glass fiber cables. A number of network operators experienced problems as a result. Customers that had double connections at our data centers, however, remained up and running.

Furthermore, competition between telecom providers has pushed prices down. A carrier that owns a data center may, however, make it difficult to switch provider when a competitor cuts prices. This is referred to as vendor lock-in.

Competition encourages providers to set themselves apart as carriers and offer the best levels of service and availability. With a network-neutral data carrier, you can benefit from this because you can switch network provider at any time without having to move your servers. You are also the first to benefit from new offers from carriers.

Moreover, a carrier neutral data center allows you to connect directly to the cloud provider of your choice, whether public or private. This means you can choose between different cloud providers right from the start and can switch flexibly between different cloud environments.

Why would you deliberately decide to limit your freedom at a time when freedom is so important? Perhaps the time has come to rethink your data center strategy. A data center migration is a once-only investment that is certain to pay off in the long term.

 

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director at LCL

A data center day?

A couple of days ago, a fiber line was damaged in Zaventem, near Brussels.

The damage was near one of our data centers. It had nothing at all to do with us, we weren’t infected.

But when the news broke, the press still called us.

 

Talking to my colleagues of other data centers worldwide, in the European Data Center Association, it seems this is the case everywhere.

We have three data centers, on different sides of the biggest Belgian cities. We invest millions constantly upgrading our infrastructure, technology, security, and other facilities. We have 39 operators offering connections in our data centers. Every fiber connection comes into our buildings by two entries, and we even have two meet-me-rooms, to make sure every potential problem in the data center is catered for.

Why is it that no one is ever surprised that we’re ‘up’ all the time, but that, when a carrier has a problem – independently from us – it’s the data center that gets the bad coverage?

We provide the infrastructure of the digital economy. If we, data centers, were to go on strike, web shops and companies worldwide would come to a standstill. No internet connections, no clouds provided, no hosting without us.

I suggest we install a national day of the data center. A day on which we celebrate that data centers are serving their customers around the clock. With not so much as a split second of any failure whatsoever, months and years on end…

Can we have some positivity and recognition, please?

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director at LCL

Guest Blog – What it’s like to work at LCL: Matthias Borremans, Facilities Project Manager

Ecological cooling systems

Matthias Borremans is LCL’s Facilities Project Manager.

He joined the company nearly a year ago. What exactly does his job entail? And which projects does he oversee?

Matthias tells all in this guest blog.

“As the Facilities Project Manager, I am responsible for overseeing various projects at LCL. One part of my work involves advising management when technologies or topologies need to be selected.

As a data center, we have to take a great many matters into consideration, and it is impossible to study everything, or design every element, without bringing in outside assistance. I therefore work with a number of engineering consulting firms that focus on different aspects of the data center.

One of the major projects on which I am currently working concerns the preparations for the construction of a new data center in Aalst. LCL already has a branch in Aalst, and it is building a second, 1200 m² data room behind its existing site. A data center cannot simply be thrown together. A study needs to be performed first, which can take up to 18 months. I check the study and monitor the implementation and delivery of the project. I always seek out the best technology and like to think outside the box. And as data centers are extremely energy-intensive, I like to come up with new ideas to help us be as environmentally friendly as possible.

For example, I considered the various cooling options for the new data center. One way to keep cooling generators cool is to spray water on them, in a process referred to as adiabatic cooling. This uses drinking water, however, which evaporates once it has been sprayed. We discussed the ethics of this within LCL, and asked ourselves whether it is acceptable to use drinking water for cooling and simply allow it to evaporate. A system of this kind does not consume a great deal of energy, is compact and can be fully redundant, but we decided it was not an environmentally responsible choice, and so we looked for an alternative solution. In the end, we opted for a system that can collect rainwater to cool down the dry coolers in hot weather.

In addition, the temperature range of the cooling water in the data center in Aalst will not be as low as in traditional systems. The cooling water will be cooled by the air outside when the outdoor temperature is lower than the temperature indoors (this is the case most of the year in Belgium), which means there will be no need to use cooling equipment. To ensure we can use this free cooling for as long as possible, we have selected the largest possible dry coolers, which will make it easier to remove heat. Using free cooling will allow us to achieve substantial energy savings.

The cooling system in the new data center in Aalst will be dual redundant (2N redundancy). This means there will be two backup cooling systems. As we want to maximize the space in the new data room, the cooling generators have been placed on the roof. To assist us with this, we called on the services of a stability engineer.

The construction project in Aalst is scheduled for completion at the end of 2018.”

Matthias Borremans, Facilities Project Manager at LCL

66% of quoted companies have a cloud-strategy

Our survey of companies quoted on Euronext Brussels, shows that 66% of them has a cloud strategy.

Most (79%) have a private cloud. 17% set up a hybrid cloud. 4% use a public cloud.

The 33% of companies that doesn’t have a cloud strategy chooses not to go to the cloud because they feel that they have less control.

 

They prefer to manage their IT infrastructure internally, to ensure business continuity. It’s mainly real estate and industrial companies that choose not to go to the cloud.

This means for one thing that a number of companies has yet to be convinced that the cloud really can be safe. On the other hand, some companies fear that their business continuity may be jeopardized if they don’t ‘control’ their IT completely (meaning: in house, where they can actually see it). On the other hand, if they only have one data center, and they never really test their power backup, safety really is an illusion.

Our very own interpretation of the results is also that, to many people, like the 33% in our survey that chooses not to go to the cloud, ‘the cloud’ they know is the public cloud. Business people, as opposed to IT-people, don’t necessarily know that there is something like a private cloud, where you still manage your IT yourself if you want to. Where cloud technology, developed at first for public clouds, is brought to your personal infrastructure to give you the benefits of the cloud as well as full control. There are safe and less safe, and pricy as well as more affordable solutions in both public and private cloud solutions. And there’s the hybrid solution as well, combining both. The difference still is that you can’t go to your server room or data center and look at your infrastructure. So there remains a mental barrier to cross… We come across quite a few CIO’s that have difficulties convincing their management and/or their Board to go to the cloud. The lack of knowledge about the cloud is probably the reason why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth is that IT is not an exact science, and the market isn’t transparent. People have their own opinion about which is the best solution. There is no such thing as an objective measurement of the risk involved in different scenario’s. Fact and myth are intertwined. On the other hand: people learn when things go wrong, but they sometimes close their eyes for the learnings of others. There have yet to come more examples of companies having to shut down operations due to a power outage or another ‘disaster’.

We at LCL will continue our plead for secure data, in a secure housing environment. That is the one sure thing we can offer you!

Watch the video made by Kanaal Z about our survey on our YouTube channel.
Dutch version
French version

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director LCL

Let’s join forces for data center outsourcing

Over the past years, I have made attempts, with the Dutch Datacenter Association, to set up a Belgian Datacenter Association in one form or another, in order to promote the interests of data centers in our country.

This organization will put us on the international map owing to the unique position we hold in the heart of Europe, with London and Paris just 5 milliseconds away and Amsterdam even closer. You can probably relate to the idea.

Belgians not only have a brick in their stomach, they clearly also have a data center or server room in their stomach.

In terms of data center outsourcing, our country must be ranked like bottom of the list. People do not feel comfortable if their server is not in their basement, as it were.

 

When I hear CIOs talk about how their management views the potential outsourcing of their data center, I sometimes feel as if I am back in the Middle Ages.

But in those days there were fortresses, of course, and people did not need electricity. Today, the needs of businesses are somewhat more sophisticated, and internal data centers or server rooms are slightly more vulnerable than a fortress armory.

Given this, jointly promoting external data centers would be a very useful exercise.

Unfortunately, most Belgian data center businesses only pay lip service to collaboration. They limit themselves to their own daily challenges, rather than investing time in joining forces, let alone looking beyond national borders.

Of course, I am Dutch. I have seen genuine efforts in this area in the Netherlands, and they are bearing fruit. But in Belgium, LCL’s is a lone voice in the wilderness.

 

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director LCL

A data center guideline for quoted companies: a call to action for FSMA?

1-enquete-disaster-recoveryA survey of Belgian, quoted companies that LCL ordered, showed that data security is not seen as essential within IT governance, not even with quoted companies.

One of our clients, a health care company, chose to work with us after their government control body said it was no option to work with only one data center.

In case of a disaster, you risk losing absolutely all your data. After your power shuts down, your company does too.

If you really want to be safe, at least 25 km should separate both data centers.

 

Moreover, best practices dictate that one should separate the development environment from the production systems.

What are the odds that the current mentality – we all trust that all will go well – will change in the short term?

Only a minority of companies interviewed said they were planning to set up a second data center.

2nd dc?

distance between dc's?

 

If we really want change, it will have to be directed by the stock exchange control body: FSMA.

So, in the best interest of our Belgian quoted companies, for the sake of their business continuity and employment – not to mention the shareholders who want return on their investment; data loss will almost certainly cause share devaluation – we call upon FSMA to issue a new guideline for quoted companies.

A guideline pushing quoted companies to have a second data center, and to either thoroughly test all back-up systems, including power backup, or to confide in a party that does just that for them. It’s a pain in the lower back part, but people will not move unless they have to.

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director LCL

Data security doesn’t really seem to be a priority…

1-enquete-disaster-recoveryA survey of Belgian, quoted companies, commissioned by LCL, shows that only 3% of the targeted companies ever test their power backup systems by actually turning off the electricity. Meaning that they will only learn whether or not the power backup systems work when there is a power cut. That’s like buying skis and not trying them on before you actually hit the snow. Or going hiking with brand new boots, straight from your favourite online shop. The only guaranteed result is sore feet.

We’ve all read and heard what deficient power backup systems can lead to. Remember the power cut at Eurocontrol? The business world couldn’t believe the company shut down just like that, by lack of well functioning backup systems.

We knew that many companies are only theoretically prepared for the worst-case power scenarios. But we never expected it to be that many. 97% of the companies plug their power backup and pray; that’s like: as good as everybody. In France, they expect to have an electricity shortage of 5 GW next week. Knowing that we generally import electricity from France, next week could represent a live test for the companies concerned…

Another astonishing fact is that 53% of the surveyed companies doesn’t have a second data center. Meaning, that in case of any disaster, not just a power cut, they have a big problem. More over: only a minority of companies interviewed said they were planning to set up a second data center.

This shows that data security is not seen as essential within IT governance, not even with quoted companies. How many Board members are aware that data security is taken so lightly in their company? More and more, ICT is on the Board’s agenda, and rightly so. All we need to do now, is educate Board members so that they can evaluate the security systems in their company/ies, and make sure that they really are as safe as they should be.

Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director LCL