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T-Systems talks up post-Brexit benefits of new UK datacentre

IT services arm of Deutsche Telekom opens UK datacentre to help enterprises grappling with private cloud and SAP migrations

T-Systems claims to have Brexit-proofed its UK business by opening its new west London datacentre, and is set to welcome its first tenant to the site in December 2016.

After several months of preparatory work, the company has gone live with its private virtual cloud platform in Virtus Data Centre’s London2 facility in Hayes, Middlesex.

T-Systems, the IT service arm of Deutsche Telekom, already operates several datacentres in the UK and Germany, with the latter facilities used to host its OpenStack-based infrastructure-as-a-service offering.

Mark Turner, vice-president of IT delivery at T-Systems, told Computer Weekly that the opening of the UK site reaffirmed its parent company’s commitment to the UK, while also positioning it to respond confidently to any Brexit-related data sovereignty concerns its customers may have.

“We are definitely having the [Brexit] conversation all the time, and with our multinational customers we are seeing a little bit of concern, with them saying they would like their data in central Europe, which we can do,” said Turner.

“We can also cater to the other side of that conversation, where people are saying they need their data to stay in the UK, in case they have any concerns about what may happen in the future.”

While Turner admits that investing in a new datacentre is no small financial feat, the cost of kitting out a facility such as London2 is much cheaper now than in the past.

“It’s a big financial commitment from Deutsche Telekom, but the technology enables us to do it much more efficiently these days,” he said. “Five to 10 years ago, this type of project would have been about four times the price.”

Driving enterprise cloud adoption

T-Systems’ private virtual cloud is geared towards helping enterprises take their first steps in moving most of their IT infrastructure off-premise by providing them with a secure and auditable private environment, said Turner.

“It is primarily Cisco-based, as we partnered with them on the design of it originally, but it is all of our own intellectual property in terms of the automation, the software and the management of the platform,” he told Computer Weekly.

The facility is also being positioned as a haven for organisations seeking help with moving their on-premise SAP deployments to the cloud, he said.

“One of the problems enterprises com up against with SAP migrations is what to do with the rest of their IT estate, as it all tends to be interconnected.

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“This platform is designed so that SAP, your desktops, SharePoint deployments and email can move across too, so everything can run in the cloud.”

The company is on course to start work on moving its first customer into the site during the first week of December. This project will see the T-Systems team help the customer to upgrade its on-premise SAP deployment to a hosted version of the software firm’s relational database system, Hana.

“It is fairly typical of the work we do, in that it features a customer whose IT estate is dominated by SAP, and we won a competitive process to move SAP off-premise,” said Turner.

“It’s a big part of the market with SAP, with customers looking for help with the move to Hana.”

Doubling up datacentres

Any data stored on the platform will be asynchronously replicated at the company’s other colocation site in Slough, operated by Equinix, for disaster recovery purposes.

Turner said it was decided to draw on the colocation capabilities of two competing providers, whose facilities are linked via a fibre connection, to give its customers peace of mind.

“Some of the contracts we have with our customers can be hundreds of millions of pounds in value and they often want to know how solid the datacentre provider [we have subcontracted to] is, and what would happen if that provider hit the wall,” he said.

“So, it’s a very good story for us to say we have two providers we use, so we can balance our risk across those two providers.”

Turner said T-Systems has enough capacity in its newly opened datacentre to accommodate about three years’ worth of growth and, some time in 2017, the company also plans to offer public cloud services from its UK sites.

“Right now it is about bringing the private cloud platform to customers in the UK, but our plan is to bring our OpenStack public cloud to sit next to it, and help customers mix and manage the two environments, depending on what their demands are,” he said.

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