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22
April
2014

Pulsant’s Newbridge data centre caters to local business

Upgrades to tier 3 facility attracts numerous local SME clients

Edinburgh, UK – 22 April 2013: Pulsant, the cloud computing, managed hosting and colocation expert, has attracted a number of businesses seeking to benefit from its newly upgraded data centre facility in Newbridge, just outside of Edinburgh.

The 210 rack data centre features multi-level security and ultra-fast connectivity with low latency to London locations. Its seven data halls are all online and operational, and have been designed in a modular fashion to optimise energy usage and cooling.

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase in interest in our colocation services in the region, especially by local small and medium sized businesses that are discovering just how cost-effective managed hosting and colocation services can be,” says Chris Shields, regional sales director, Pulsant. “We have the facilities to offer these types of businesses exactly what they need – from a single rack through to a multi-rack solution – which are made more attractive with the addition of our support and managed service options.

“Colocation is ideal for SMBs as it brings them cost savings, future proofing and reduced risk. In addition, it frees up in-house IT staff to focus on internal infrastructure.”

Other local customers include IntelligentComms, a supplier of bespoke, flexible and modular telecoms expense management solutions; Factonomy, a business continuity and disaster recovery software provider; RMJM, an international architectural practice; and Wolfson Microelectronics, a supplier of mixed signal semiconductors.

Gareth Cleland, head of IT, RMJM says: “We now have the security and the peace of mind of a managed environment that has fire and power protection and is manned 24/7 by knowledgeable support staff. This is in stark contrast to the in-house option which would have involved making a significant capital investment in our office located right next to a river, which is not best practice. The Newbridge colocation facility has given us far greater flexibility and in the event that we need to downsize or the dynamics of the office change, we can move the office without any disruption to services for the rest of the organisation.”

Andrew Ralston, director of IS & security, Wolfson Microelectronics says: “We first selected Pulsant more than eight years ago when we were looking for a reliable provider of connectivity services and the most robust and secure disaster recovery site. We needed a local facility within a suitable distance from our head office to meet all of our business continuity requirements. We have been partnering with Pulsant ever since and now use their colocation facilities too. Now we host the disaster recovery solution at Newbridge and have been using this model for the last five years.”

Categories: Blog, News

16
April
2014

Supporting the arts at Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival logo

The Edinburgh International Festival’s annual galvanisation of Scotland has become renowned across the globe. Drawing artistic talent from a wide array of cultures and countries, the month-long festival transforms the city into a hotbed of colour and life.

For 7 years, Pulsant has stood beside the organisers of the festival providing IT solutions and services to help meet the demands of an ever-evolving event, and the expectations of an ever-evolving public.

With so much to do and see, the thousands of buzzing festival-goers use the official website (www.eif.com) as their guide. The website supplies them with information during the festival on everything from the city itself, to performance schedules and details, to accommodation and transport links.

Perhaps the website’s most important function however, is as the gateway to the ticketing system. The ticket sales begin in March, seeing a massive surge in traffic with more and more sales taking place online. With this comes the need for, above all else, a system that is able to scale and meet demand without sacrificing stability and speed.

With the redesign and redevelopment of both the website and ticketing system in 2013, these systems were required to work together to meet new challenges thrown at them by the changing digital landscape. The growing demand on these new systems called on Pulsant to deliver cloud architecture that was faster and more reliable than ever.

The new system was moved onto Pulsant’s more complete, enterprise cloud solution. The enterprise cloud offers a more efficient and scalable service, able to quickly and efficiently react to increased demand at peak load times by making more efficient use of server hardware.

The website today provides a much more accessible experience for visitors, featuring a new media library showcasing content for both current and past events. As the festival grows and the demand on the system constantly changes and adapts, it’s vital to have a platform that can meet these new developments head-on. The team at Pulsant will continue to support the EIF, helping the organisation meet the changing needs of the festival with reliable, efficient and practical solutions.

Categories: Blog

2
April
2014

Next Generation Cloud Backup and Recovery

We understand how important your data – business critical and everyday – is to your organisation. This is why we have signed a partnership agreement with Asigra, a leading cloud, backup, recovery and restore software provider. We have added a range of complementary solutions to our portfolio – cloud to cloud, smart device to cloud, on-premise to cloud and third party cloud data protection solutions which are combined to provide a single management and recovery view of business critical data – to bring our customers added confidence and assurance that their data is safe, secure and recoverable.

Categories: Blog, Cloud

29
January
2014

Developing standards of excellence – the importance of industry bodies

Matt Lovell, CTO, Pulsant

In a market where all data centre organisations are trying to differentiate themselves and there’s a high level of competition the presence of industry bodies ensures that we’re not operating in complete isolation. Bodies, such as the Data Centre Alliance (DCA), act as a crucial link between data centre operators in an effort to facilitate interaction and dialogue. Why? Because we can learn from one another, share our experiences and knowledge, and ultimately work to improve the industry.

Find out more about the role that the DCA plays in the industry and why its presence is so important by reading the full article featured in Data Centre Solutions Europe here.

Categories: Blog, Colocation

20
December
2013

The future of power generation for data centres

Matt Lovell, CTO, Pulsant

The provision of power continues to be a crucial issue for the country, and particularly for industries that are heavily dependent on the reliable and cost-effective supply of electricity to keep operations streamlined and available. The data centre is a case in point. Data centres account for around 5% of electricity consumption across the EU and have been demonised by green groups for their carbon footprint. Therefore the industry is working hard to reduce costs and environmental impact.

Overall demand in the UK has not risen dramatically over the last 10 years but the change in lifestyle – flexible working, increase in shift and weekend work, as well as the increase of online shopping and services – has created new peaks of demand. Power generation has also shifted in the past decade with renewable energy making up about 10% of capacity, coal and gas making up the majority at 70% with nuclear and imported power comprising the rest.

Going forward there will be a continued strain to keep up with demand and meet agreed carbon reduction commitments. By 2035 it is anticipated that the UK’s current nuclear power stations will be shut down as they reach the end of their lifecycles. So where will this additional capacity come from?

The recent announcement to build a new nuclear plant – the first since 1995 in the UK and the first globally since the Fukushima disaster – will partly address this. However, prices are forecast to continue to rise so more needs to be done. Many providers will continue to increase investment to generate their own electricity. Given the specialist workforce and personnel often employed to design and operate data centres, many already possess the skills in high voltage and capital-intensive infrastructure to seriously consider building and operating electrical generation capacity.

As a Green Grid member, Pulsant sources all of its energy from renewable sources and other data centre providers are also looking to go green. Many will seek to register and generate power from renewable sources, namely solar, wind and hydroelectric projects. For larger operators, the initial investments could yield a return in as little as two to three years.

From a government perspective, the development of self-generation projects should be strongly supported – removing the demand of energy intensive operations from overall capacity will ultimately create greater efficiencies in the wider national grid and optimise investment in new generation facilities.

While self-generation may be the answer for data centre operators, it is certainly not the only solution. Providers should also look to the efficiency and green credentials of the data centre itself by continuous investment in reducing carbon emissions, making optimum use of resources as well as using renewable energy sources.

Categories: Blog, Power Generation

2
December
2013

STAR certified – but what does it mean?

Fergus Kennedy, head of compliance and information systems, Pulsant

The cloud industry was revolutionised in September this year with the announcement of the first independently audited cloud security certification. It is exactly what the industry needs – transparency and clarification for cloud users (and potential adopters).

The cloud space can be daunting and for those thinking of adopting cloud or using a different provider for their needs, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. At the top of that list is the million dollar question: Will my data be safe?

There are a number of great cloud providers in the industry many of whom offer very strong solutions, but what assurances do cloud users have in terms of security? The BSI security standard – ISO 27001 control set – is a good place to start. However, it doesn’t focus on specific cloud issues.

Enter STAR – the new certification that builds on both ISO 27001 and the CSA cloud control matrix. The certification was developed to help cloud users make sense of a cloud provider’s security capabilities and add a measure of assurance to the decision-making process.

We’re incredibly proud that we are one of the first companies to be awarded the STAR certification (only two cloud providers have achieved the certification so far). We worked with the CSA and BSI as part of the pilot programme and underwent the entire process – achieving Silver Status based on the maturity of our security controls.

For our customers this certification it is an additional assurance that we can provide the best, most appropriate and secure cloud product to suit their needs – our clients can be certain that we have the necessary measures in place to secure their business data. For the industry at large it inspires confidence as it gives cloud providers something tangible to hang their hats on and brings that added measure of transparency.

The certification has certainly come at the best time for the maturing cloud industry, and in the future we’ll see STAR and similar certifications in similar areas challenging providers to continually improve their offerings, strengthen their products, and elevate cloud standards to new heights.

Categories: Blog, Cloud, Managed Hosting, Star Certified

8
November
2013

Customer satisfaction – not just jargon

As a technology company there’s always the danger of ignoring the human element. This is why we focus quite strongly on customer service, both before and after implementation to complement our cloud, colocation and managed networking services. Of course this could just be marketing speak – but it’s not. It’s a genuine commitment to getting things right, delivering the highest levels of support, and retaining our customers by meeting expectations and keeping them happy.

So what do we have in our arsenal to back up this approach? At the moment we have a 95% customer retention rate, and have been awarded the Royal Warrant in recognition of the continuous exceptional service that we deliver to the Royal Household.

Beyond that, in September 2013 we adopted a customer satisfaction metric to add a tangible element to our customer satisfaction drive. We’re using Net Promoter, an industry recognised metric that not only allows us to monitor our performance, but also gives us an indication of how we match up against other companies in our industry.

After each job is completed, customers are asked to complete a survey regarding their experience of us as a company and the products and services that we provide. In addition to giving us a numerical score, customers are asked to comment and provide specific feedback. We use this feedback to view how our clients perceive us and if there are any areas of improvement we can develop. For example, we are now making changes to the way in which customers view the status of live backups as a result of responses received.

Net Promoter is well regarded in the IT industry because it delivers true feedback. It’s quite difficult to score perfectly as customers are required to give precise feedback – no simple checking of boxes – we can use.

The cloud industry is very much still in its infancy but there have been some excellent advances in its maturity, namely an independently audited security certification for cloud providers. It is equally important to have a customer satisfaction standard, because it’s critical to evaluate our services in a holistic manner so that we achieve a balance between technical excellence and customer satisfaction.

Categories: Blog, Cloud, Colocation, Managed Hosting

9
October
2013

Stars in the cloud

It’s official – cloud security assurance is being taken to the next level. The recent announcement by the CSA (Cloud Security Alliance) and BSI (British Standards Institute) of the first independently audited cloud security certification is a tremendous leap forward in bringing transparency to the industry. The new STAR certification builds on the existing CSA self-certification and international security standard ISO27001 control set, adding specific cloud-focused controls.

Considering recent events highlighted in the media regarding the safety and privacy of data, customers and consumers of the cloud are becoming increasingly aware of what to look for and which questions to ask when selecting cloud services and providers

Pulsant has significant experience using accreditations in ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 which are internationally recognised and respected, and these do provide significant assurance to customers around processes and controls related to cloud deployment. However, these standards do not necessarily treat the unique security challenges faced when delivering cloud platforms in sufficient detail. Many providers like Pulsant deliver secure cloud products but to date the lack of appropriate assurance mechanisms has made this harder to convey in basic terms to customers.

Presenting customers with a cloud specific security certification will increase confidence in the security of a company’s cloud proposition and is increasingly important as the cloud market continues to expand. The customer wants to know the vendor is doing it ‘right’, and in a market where the number of vendors is increasing, customers need confidence they are selecting the best vendor for their needs. While accreditation cannot guarantee security, the CSA STAR will certainly make the market more transparent and holds infinitely more weight than existing self-assessment / self-certification models as it is administered by an independent body.

In the bigger picture, vendors with a STAR certification are more likely to inspire confidence in customers, and as the industry matures and the need for assurance increases, there just might be a greater demand for cloud providers with the appropriate credentials. As a cloud vendor we recognise this need and feel the progress by the CSA on the new standard is a very positive addition to the industry and will commit to pursuing this line of certification.

Categories: Blog, Cloud

30
July
2013

New Pulsant Portal Features

We have worked hard over the past few months to design and implement a replacement portal, taking into account what was available across the portals of the various companies we have acquired. As you would expect there was also a customer wish list of new features which we have incorporated. In the backend, this has required huge effort to collapse down all the data, so we could present all services and tickets through a single interface. The new portal will be available at https://portal.pulsant.com from Wednesday, 31st July 2013.

In addressing the most common features requested, we have provided a brief summary below:

Friendly name field

The most requested feature was to have a field across every service that customers could use as a service identifier. We have internal names for all our services, as an example DED2625 is a webserver. With the addition of the friendly name field any text provided is appended and displayed in brackets. So across all systems this server could display as DED2625 (www.pulsant.com primary web server). This is clearly much more specific and should simplify any communications between customers and Pulsant engineers.

Services belong to a solution

Rather than have all services at the same level under an account we have added solutions to allow grouping. A solution can be given a name and will contain a number of related services. Following the example above a good solution name could be “Pulsant website”, which contains the web servers, the database servers, the load balancing, the domain and a firewall. On a large account this allows an engineer to quickly identify closely related services. We have included filters allowing you to view only a specific type of service or only services within a specific solution.

Emergency contact at a solution level

We have added an emergency contact person and emergency contact notes field to the solution, which is presented at the top of every service page. The notes field should be used to concisely explain anything custom about the solution that would be useful in an emergency.

Granular authorization levels

Many customers have asked to have more granular levels of permissions for the different people in their accounts. By grouping services into solutions, we can now provide these permissions at a solution level; a person having a type of permission to a specific solution. We have come up with 6 types of permission:

  1. Access Control – Ability to add & edit permissions for all contacts on this solution
  2. Technical Support – Request information / support for services under this solution
  3. Technical Changes – Issue change requests for services under this solution
  4. Billable Work – Authorise charges for requested work on services under this solution
  5. Physical Colo Access – Permission to access physical colocation services under this solution
  6. 3rd Party Colo Access – Authorise anyone for one-time access to the physical colocation services under this solution

People on your account will only be able to see service details and tickets with a service assigned if they have suitable permissions to that solution. You can see below that Person 1 has greater permissions than Person 2.

Dashboard on home screen

Another frequent request especially where customers take many services is to see at a glance any services or tickets requiring attention. We have added a tickets panel to the home page, this lists any tickets marked as requiring an update from the customer. Similarly we have a panel specifically for managed devices, to show any that are not responding to our ping monitoring. We plan to extend this across more of the services over the coming months in order to give you a simple overview of your services.

API

The API has gained some traction and we had a number of users hitting it, so we have extended what it is capable of. There is thorough documentation of how it works within the portal, but should you require further help please raise a ticket or use the portal feedback form – or if you use the API please let us know what you achieve – it’s always great to hear of people doing tight integrations with their own systems.

Some examples of things (we are aware) the API has been used for:

  • Displaying infrastructure in a “network map” coloured green or red (indicating up or down) on wall mounted monitors.
  • Colocation customers pulling bandwidth stats to ensure they avoid any overage charges
  • Displaying open tickets on wall mounted monitors to ensure fast responses.

In addition to the above, there are lots of little improvements – whether that be visual, speed or just general ease of use.

We hope you like this new portal, and put it to good use! As ever, we’re always interested in hearing your feedback – so let us know what you’d like to be able to do in the portal, and we’ll do our best to make it happen!

Categories: Blog

3
July
2013

Pulsant CEO named regional winner for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

We are proud to announce our CEO, Mark Howling, has been named as a regional winner in the “Emerging Business” category in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year programme. Mark was in competition with business leaders from 40 companies from across London and the South East.

This means Mark is now in consideration for the national title, to be announced in October, for what is regarded as being one of the world’s most prestigious business accolades! The overall UK winner will be chosen by a panel of judges based on criteria, such as entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, strategic direction, leading and building teams, financial performance, national and global impact, and the company’s approach to social responsibility.

Mark, a qualified civil engineer, has over 25 years of experience within the IT and telecoms industry, both locally and internationally. He has been at the helm of Pulsant since the company was formed in 2010, when Lumison, a connectivity, hosting and managed IT services provider was acquired by private equity group, Bridgepoint Development Capital. He has led the company to success, positioning it as one of the leading datacentre service providers in the UK, evident in the fact that the company released positive 2012 results which reported a 51% rise in revenue from £20,2m to £30,43m, a gross profit of £13,6m and an operating profit of £2,1m.

Mark has been instrumental in overseeing Pulsant’s buy and build acquisition strategy in 2011 and 2012. This has seen the company integrate Lumison with Blue Square Data, DediPower and ScoLocate to create a network of 10 wholly owned data centres spanning the UK.

Under Mark, Pulsant continues to focus on its strategic customer priorities which include delivering scalable and flexible IT solutions, reducing cost and increasing efficiency, and delivering high quality, professional service to our customer base of over 3000 businesses.

We think Mark is highly deserving of this honour, which is a coup for him personally and for this company, and we look forward to hearing the results of the national final later in the year.

Categories: Blog

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