Today’s eclipse, solar panels and disaster recovery

Data Center LCL

Today, if clouds don’t spoil it for us, we’ll get to see a solar eclipse. On a sunny day, an eclipse translates into 40% less electricity from solar panels. Given the shaky state of the electricity supply in Belgium, I do hope you have a backup server room or data center, just in case we should get the long feared electricity blackout after all.

Earlier this week, well before the eclipse, we experienced two power cuts in our data centers, shortly after one another: one in Aalst yesterday, and one at the beginning of the week in Diegem. We have ample backup systems, of course. Our clients never noticed there was a (short) blackout. When data center activities are not your core business however, you can never protect your data and assets in the same way a professional external data center can. So a power cut represents a threat.

Even if you do have a backup solution, a second data center, at a distance of, say, 5 km: how relax can you be about potential disasters such as a power cut? I would keep my mobile close by if I were you. If your server rooms/data centers are only 5 km apart, both are very likely to suffer from any power cut that occurs on the grid. Even if you have the right backup facilities in both your data centers, your staff will have to be in both places at the same time to monitor. A double power cut represents an extra risk, there’s no doubt about that. In practice, your data centers need to be at least 20 km apart to avoid any unnecessary extra risk.

In short: a lot of companies are not as safe as they think they are. A condition for growth is that you can focus on your core business. And that your backend is no source of worry…

Laurens van Reijen, CEO of LCL data centers

Ethernet leased lines shortly available throughout Belgium at better conditions via your favourite operator!

Data Center LCL Belgium

The company formerly known as Belgacom, nowadays branded Proximus, is about to lose one of its remaining monopolies. The Ethernet leased lines on its network will shortly be on offer throughout Belgium from its competitors as well. Belgacom will have to offer competing operators considerably better wholesale service terms and reduced wholesale prices, enabling competitors to become (more effective) rivals of its Proximus Explore offering. Indications are that wholesale prices for certain network elements could decline by more than 50%. Alternative operators will also be able to pass on benefits (e.g. better territorial coverage especially outside cities and business parks, speed increases, perhaps price reductions) to their end-users in general and their wholesale customers in specific. Not that the prices are very transparent. It takes a fanatic and a couple of days’ time to get an idea of what the pile of e-paper produced on the matter by the BIPT, still at the draft stage, will mean in practice.

The thing is though, that it is now a matter of weeks before more companies will be able to afford Belgium-wide coverage for Ethernet leased lines, which can be used for site-to-site connectivity, data center connections, backup solutions, internet access, etc. The one-off connection cost per site will go down, as well as the premium charged for speedier connections. The general expectation seems to be that the prices for end-users would not go down that much, but that (much) faster connections will be offered for the same price, and that locations at which companies cannot afford Ethernet leased lines today, will be served cost-effectively.

This is good news for Belgian companies as well as for data center companies such as LCL, even if it’s a crying shame that it had to take 20 years before this market is now finally being liberalised. If more companies will be able to afford Ethernet services, more sites will be able to connect to quality external data centers such as LCL’s. We’re quite ready to receive all those companies that will now finally be able to work with us! We have been seeing a boost in demand over the last six months as it is. Companies are not only interested in shifting their data center cost model from capex to opex. The secure environment that LCL data centers offer, as well as the connection to some 30 operators, surely contributes to higher demand.

In terms of timing, the European Commission has until the second half of March to react on the BIPT’s notification. The BIPT has given itself until May 1st to adopt a final decision, which will reflect any comments the Commission might have. So operators all around: brace yourself! You’re finally in luck…

Laurens van Reijen, CEO of LCL data centers