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LON3: Fuelling London’s digital economy

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

Interxion proudly launched the latest addition to its London Data Centre Campus – LON3 – at a special event at City Hall on 11 July 2018. The event brought together some of the key players in London’s digital economy to discuss what the new data centre means for London’s future as a world-leading smart city and connectivity hub.

LON3, the third installation at Interxion’s thriving London data centre campus, is set to open its doors this autumn. Located at Brick Lane in East London, the new facility enhances the campus’s strong community of connectivity providers, content distributors, cloud services and enterprise customers. The launch event provided an opportunity to discuss the wider significance and potential of introducing a vital new piece into London’s technology infrastructure.

Opening the event, Interxion’s UK managing director Andrew Fray spoke about how the latest addition to Interxion’s data centre network ties not only to the company’s 20-year journey, but also the broader evolution of technology during this pivotal period. Introducing the evening’s speakers, Andrew spoke about London’s position as one of the most connected points globally and its aspirations as a leading Smart City. He emphasised LON3’s role in London’s development, and the need to have the infrastructure in place to support business growth and set the city up for the data and connectivity needs of tomorrow.

The theme of converging connectivity, location and innovation was carried on throughout the evening’s presentations. Here are some of the key points discussed. 

 1. Creating connected communities

The first speaker of the evening was Interxion’s CEO David Ruberg. David spoke about the expansion of the data centre campus in the context of creating communities of interest – places where business can connect with one another for mutual commercial benefit. He explained that the expansion was driven by customer demand based on evolving data and connectivity needs, “We’ve barely touched the surface of the massive growth in data and the complex processing needs this requires.”

As demand for public, private and hybrid cloud deployments grow, businesses are looking for hubs where they can access these services. According to David, they are attracted to Interxion because of the high level of connectivity. “London as a centre of financial services is a very strong community where participants derive great value from being located in close proximity to one another within our data centres,” he said. “All of our customers benefit from the strong community interest we have developed in a connectivity centre.

2. Becoming a smart city

The second speaker of the evening was Theo Blackwell, the City of London’s first chief digital officer. Theo’s role involves putting data and technology at the heart of London’s development for the benefit of its citizens. He spoke about the goal of becoming a smart city by 2020, and set Interxion’s expansion within the context of the City of London’s plans.

“London is a city of convergence,” Theo said. “Smart people are coming together day after day, and we want to make London the smartest city in the world. We’re building the foundations for world-class connectivity and smart cities.”

He is addressing a ‘grand challenge’ of how to build the foundations for a future where data can be used to solve the city’s most intractable problems, such as healthcare and housing. In the past, London has been hamstrung by connectivity issues and now has the difficult task of trying to support advanced technologies such as AI on legacy infrastructure.  The key to overcoming this challenge, according to Theo, is to invest in infrastructure that can bring consistency and meet emerging needs across a vast array of social groups and business sectors.

“We want to share, adopt and adapt to make the city a better place to live and work. LON3 sits right in the centre of this ecosystem and we’re participating in its evolution,” he concluded.

 3. Supporting economic activity

The next presentation was by Emma Fryer, associate director at TechUK, the trade association for the UK’s technology industry. Leaning on her expertise in managing the UK Council of Data Centre Operators and involvement in TechUK’s Data Centres Technical Committee, Emma advocated for greater appreciation of the vital role data centres play in society.

“Data centres matter,” she proclaimed. “They underpin all aspects of our daily life and should be cherished and valued.” Her presentation dispelled many of the myths about data centre operations, including the prevailing misconception at a governmental level that they’re ‘power hungry sheds that don’t employ anybody.’

She proceeded to talk about the contribution data centres make to the economy, enabling a range of human activities and driving growth and employment. She spoke about the opportunity for the UK to be a leader in digital services, underpinned by world-leading connectivity infrastructure. “Data centres are where our industrial strategy meets our digital strategy,” she said. “They support multiple layers of economic activity and create opportunities for a range of high value services

The danger, according to Emma, is for the role of data centres to be marginalised or outsourced to other countries. “A world-class economy needs world-class infrastructure. We cannot offshore the most critical part of that supply chain.” She discussed London’s special place in driving the UK’s infrastructural strength, with world-class connectivity and an unparalleled richness of services.

4. Leading in digital

The evening was rounded off with a discussion between Andrew Fray and Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates (TLA) – an independent, private-sector led body that champions London’s position as one of the world’s leading tech hubs.

Russ spoke about the evolving technological landscape, and how London has taken a leadership position in important areas such as fintech, deep tech, retail tech, health tech, creative tech and digital media. He outlined the infrastructural needs that fuel these thriving sectors, most pertinently with regards to critical services like power consumption, cooling, security and connectivity.

As we move into a multi-device era, the pair discussed, we need a new approach towards connectivity as the bandwidth requirements are massive. Andrew spoke about his family’s own device use, where there may be multiple screens active on any evening and how bringing together all the elements in real-time needs suitable infrastructure.

Andrew discussed how Interxion is enabling these new needs, having built a community of nearly 100 carriers, along with major content delivery networks and cloud service providers, right in the heart of London. This community enables the transfer of data and the connectivity that’s helping to drive London’s digital economy, serving as the backbone of what’s going to make London prosper and function as a tech ecosystem.

LON3 open soon

The LON3 launch event provided a bigger picture perspective of why the humble data centre matters. No longer a commodity, data centres are the beating heart of a high performing digital economy. With this vital piece of infrastructure in place, aspiring Smart Cities such as London are better positioned to meet the complex connectivity requirements of citizens, businesses and public services.

As a premier data centre location, LON3 presents a wealth of interconnection opportunities all under one roof, helping to transform the city’s digital economy and connect London globally.


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