Technology has unhealthy bias towards London, warns Migsolv

Alex Rabbetts, CEO of Migsolv, tells Nick Booth why he thinks London is the worst possible place for a data centre and why service is better elsewhere

It’s not just the media that has an unhealthy bias towards London, the technology industry is equally guilty of this short sightedness. Which is odd, given that the cloud is supposed to liberate us from location dependence. It’s not the technology that’s the problem, it’s the narrow horizons of the myopic metropolitans that need to be widened.

As Norwich based Migsolv embarks on a nationwide hunt for channel partners, we asked CEO Alex Rabbetts why he thinks London is the worst possible place for a data centre, why service is better elsewhere and how resellers can broaden people’s outlooks.

Why, asks Rabbetts, would any right-minded person put their crown jewels in the very place they’re most at risk? Electronic data is not a vanity purchase, it’s critical to any modern business. If data is lost or unavailable for a long time, four out of five companies will go bust, argues Rabbetts. There may be organisations that can survive without their website, email, payroll data and customer records working - but that’s only because they have their clients over a barrel. These aren’t the sort of organisations anyone wants to deal with, but we have no choice. 

For efficient companies in competitive well regulated industries, the IT has to be reliable and secure. In which case, the metropolitan monopoly is an insane choice, according to Rabbetts.

“Why would you place your data in the highest risk place there is? London is a big terrorist target, particularly the Docklands where most data centres are,” says Rabbetts. MI5 lists the current threat level to London as Severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. “An attack in the Docklands would have massive repercussions for UK Plc and could be catastrophic,” says Rabbetts, “it may be no coincidence that several of the attacks in Paris were concentrated around St Denis which is highly populated with data centres.”

Migsolv’s Gatehouse data centre in Norfolk is a lot less of a terror target than London and the Docklands, Rabbetts argues. So that’s one simple, effective selling point for its channel partners to make.

This rotten, rainy summer we’re having should provide another powerful advert for Migsolv partners. London’s Docklands is in the Environment Agency’s 20-year flood plain. This means it’s likely the Docklands will flood at least once in the next 20 years. It came pretty close a couple of years ago.

By contrast, the Migsolv facility is 39m above sea level which means it’s not even in the Environment Agency’s 1,000-year flood plain. A thousand years without a flood should help most businesses. Meanwhile, says Rabbetts, others may find themselves accessing their data centres by boat.

“I’m also always surprised that so many businesses use Slough and Reading for disaster recovery. When the Docklands floods, how will they know their data centres a few miles down the same river will be accessible?” says Rabbetts.

Then there’s power. Why would anyone put their crown jewels anywhere like London which has notorious electricity supply problems? Norfolk doesn’t. Better still, much of the renewable energy from off-shore wind farms is generated off its coast.

Then there’s the costs. Why pay London’s exorbitant property rents and staff wages when you can get exactly the same service for a fraction of the price?

Norwich is a four millisecond commute into London and closer to Europe. “How do they think the cables coming from Europe reach them? They pass right by our front door on the way there,” says Rabbetts. A reseller partner, meanwhile, could be anywhere in the UK – even the world.

Light might travel down fibre optic cable at 200,000 km per second, but how quickly does the money travel the other way?

Consultants can get a quick commission by recommending their clients to Migsolv. So there’s no technical barrier to entry, you just have to have a good understanding of your clients’ business models. If someone has a good understanding of how chains of estate agents work, they can earn money through Migsolv. “We’ll provide a dedicated account manager who can provide any technical information needed to define connectivity options and to reassure customers,” says Rabbetts.

On the other hand, for higher margins, resellers can rent rack space and sell this on for a higher profit. “We’ll provide the account manager and technical support and you own the relationship with the customer,” says Rabbetts. “We want our resellers to feel empowered so they can deliver a great service and make money. The most important thing to us is that they share our passion for customer care.”

Wow, can you do that outside the M25? Who’d have thought it? I bet many people in London never imagined there’s a better world out there. But that’s because they’re more sophisticated and broad minded, you see.


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