The value of data centres to Welsh business

On many business parks across the Welsh countryside are hidden gems helping to power the national economy.

Data centres are providing the infrastructure on which a new digital economy in Wales is being built. Inside those data centres are thousands of computers and servers transmitting and storing the data we produce as part of our everyday working lives. Customer records, legal documents, images, architects’ drawings – they’re all processed and stored online these days using software packages that need hosting on a server somewhere.

Previously, these servers tended to be kept in your office (or even in the office cupboard). Today, many businesses wisely choose to put them in data centres. The reasons are many and varied. However, the two primary ones are that they now recognise the considerable investments that data centre operators have made in creating the right environment for those servers and the financial benefits it can bring to their businesses.

The investments that data centre operators have made are translated into facilities with clean, redundant and often green-sourced energy. They provide a temperature and humidity controlled environment, huge connectivity, security and technical expertise to keep the servers running 24/7 without downtime.

Some data centre operators have also invested significant sums in protecting their customers’ servers from the significant cyber threats that exist from hackers and organised crime. Those data centres, interconnected to others in Wales, the UK and around the world, provide hosting in ‘The Cloud’ as we’ve now all learned to call it.

While using a hosting provider can bring you benefits – lower and predictable charges for IT hardware and running costs, plus expertise you might not have in-house – it’s important to make sure the one you’re using meets all of your requirements. For instance, if you need your business data to be kept in the UK, you need to make sure you use a hosting provider that has its data centres on these shores – an important compliance requirement for many financial services companies.

The Digital Wales initiative, launched last year, determined that everyone in the country should benefit from digital technology. This also has to mean connectivity, and while the population of Wales is seeing increased connectivity to home and business premises, the increase in speed here also means the servers in data centres also need increased connectivity. With dark fibre networks such as the FibreSpeed network in North Wales, allowing us to provide high-speed connections to the major IT hubs of Manchester and Dublin, Wales is fast becoming a great place to do business online.

At Hosting UK, we have customers across central and local government and the private sector using us to host their servers, store and protect their data, provide them with managed cloud services such as Office 365 and simply help them buy domain names to get them online.

Defining how using a data centre can enable your business is never going to be straightforward because there are so many options. The important thing is to identify which part of your business or organisation can be enabled by the cloud.

By taking the pain away from the everyday maintenance of your servers, using the expertise of an accredited hosting provider means you can get on with doing what you do best – running a successful business.

Phil Parry is sales & service director at Hosting UK, which is based in St Asaph, North Wales.