TelecityGroup’s John Shorten: software-defined data centres are the future (video)

16 Nov 2012

John Shorten, technical director of TelecityGroup in Ireland

The era of the software-defined data centre which provides CIOs with the ability to remotely increase network capacity within a data centre just like you would a virtual machine has arrived, the technical director of TelecityGroup in Ireland John Shorten told

As Shorten describes it, the biggest shifts in technology in the last decade were initially in the area of virtualisation of computers and servers.

“There now seems to be a shift within the industry to bring this to the network layer.

“We are seeing software-defined networks layer switches, load balancers, firewalls being kept as templates that are ready to roll out based upon whenever a customer needs to scale it up,” Shorten said.

Video interview with John Shorten:

Headquartered in London, TelecityGroup operates data centres in prime locations across Europe, including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Milan, Paris, Stockholm and Dublin.

TelecityGroup, which acquired Irish data centre group Data Electronics in August 2011 for €100m, operates three carrier-neutral data centres in Dublin, with a combined capacity of more than 5,000 sq metres and 5MW of customer available power. It recently revealed plans to add a further 7.5MW of incremental customer power, bringing capacity to 12.5MW across its sites.

These data centres are key international internet hubs and offer access to more than 40 carrier networks and access to INEX, the Dublin internet exchange.

Shorten explains that the level of flexibility for CIOs and ability to add capacity on the fly has never been greater.

“In the same way that we’ve had virtualised machines using hypervisors like Hyper-V that can be scaled up according to load, we now have the ability to do the same on the network layer – that’s a very exciting prospect for us.

“Until now we’ve been using technologies in the industry that are 10 or 15 years old but very hard to scale without having to pop in and out hardware. Now we have the ability to increase the network capacity just like you would a virtual machine,” Shorten explained.

Barriers to cloud, opportunities for CIOs

Shorten said one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of cloud computing among businesses in Ireland and the UK has been misapprehensions in terms of the future role of IT managers and CIOs and of course how to deal with security issues.

“Cloud will eventually augment everybody’s skill level. New positions will come available in organisations, such as cloud architects, and existing IT staff will change and improve their skill levels.

“Security is still a major concern within the cloud arena because people are afraid that if they move workloads to the cloud there is no real control over where the governance exists.

“However, they do have a path to deploy cloud solutions in a more structured manner in data centres in private cloud scenarios.

“Provided there is control and compliance in data centres customers can control the security element in these environments.”

Shorten warns that the real security risks are occurring at the personal device level in organisations due to the rise of BYOD (bring your own device) and the popularity of devices like iPhone and Android smartphones.

“Consumers are by default using the cloud whether they are aware of it or not and many are bringing these apps and devices into their working lives and many are using these tools in a business context.

“They’re using Dropbox, they’re using Gmail for their business emails and inadvertently they are using these apps and tools for business reasons. The more these are adopted by standard consumers it will move by default into the business arena,” he said.

Join Ireland’s digital leaders who will gather to discuss cloud computing and the big data revolution at the Cloud Capital Forum on Friday, 23 November, at the Convention Centre Dublin

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years