Bringing commercial data storage to the public sector by Ark Data Centres, 27th May 2013

Ark Data Centres and SOURCE provide data centres for public and private sector organisations. Between them, they deliver secure and cost-effective data storage – whatever a client’s needs.

“For a long time,” opines Steve Hall from Ark, “public sector organisations have sought access to IT services that are priced competitively and designed to commercial standards. But the choice has always been limited, because of the security needs of government, and the scale of their operations.”

Now, he says, things have changed, and commercial-grade IT is more readily available to the public sector. It can be delivered at very competitive prices, with the required level of security already in place.

Take Ark data centres as a case in point. Built to provide secure storage for data up to and including Impact Level 3 (Restricted), at no extra cost but can be increased to IL6 if requested.

What is more, the service is fully scalable, so can grow or shrink in relation to a client’s needs. And, reports Hall, it can all be delivered for the lowest total cost of ownership of any data centre provision in the country.

Scalable savings

Hall, who is Ark executive sales and marketing director, believes the company’s offering is formidable. Indeed, he says his reason for joining the company from a large Systems Integrator (SI) last year was his sense that Ark service offers a better deal for the taxpayer.

“If an organisation is currently using a data centre that’s fi ve years old and runs at a PUE of say 2.5 – the industry average,” he notes, adding that many used by the public sector are in fact more than 10 years in age, “then we can save it £1.1 million per megawatt of IT capacity provided per annum in our data centre running an annualised PUE of 1.25. In addition, we’ll be delivering a carbon saving of 6,000 tonnes, which makes a big difference to the environment.”

Although these figures look compelling, some smaller public sector organisations may assume that the level of service provided by Ark is too large for their needs.

That’s where SOURCE comes in, because it works with Ark to offer IT capacity on a smaller scale. “In essence,” explains SOURCE’s co-founder, Fenton Bard, “we buy wholesale data centre elements from large-scale operators like Ark. Then, we sell it on in smaller chunks – sometimes as little as a single rack – to organisations with more modest requirements.”

Inevitably, SOURCE ends up dealing with smaller organisations, like local authorities or IT resellers who are bundling a whole service package for their own customers. But the beauty of its operation, Bard asserts, is that it can offer all the credentials of Ark, in a package that will suit the needs and budget of smaller organisations.

Even better, because SOURCE buys its data centre capacity on a long lease, it can offer unprecedented visibility on pricing, helping its clients to manage their budgets well into the future.

Data centres that are ready to go

Whatever the precise needs of their clients, Hall and Bard agree that one of the biggest advantages of buying data centres from their companies is the speed with which the service can be set up.

“SOURCE provides ‘Move-In-Ready’ data centre environments for clients that need to act quickly,” Bard says. “This is made possible by the fact that the data centres are already established, and we’ve bought a part of them wholesale. So all we have to do is patch the capacity through and a SOURCE client could be using our data centres within 24 hours of ordering.”

It’s a similar story with Ark, which offers an 18-week lead-in time to set up a whole new data centre environment for its customers. When you consider that its provision is at a much larger scale than SOURCE’s, this is an impressive turnaround – reflecting Ark’s fleetness of foot as an SME.

“We have a great deal of flexibility, because we are not a massive global company,” says Hall. “That means we can respond to our clients’ needs quickly and efficiently.”

As an added advantage, Bard states, public sector organisations choosing to procure IT capacity from either SOURCE or Ark will be following the government’s SME-inclusion policies. This is good in its own right, but it also helps stimulate the local economies where the two companies operate.

“We use local tradespeople and suppliers when we build new data centres,” explains Hall. “So when we pick up business from the government, and grow as a result, we’re sharing that wealth throughout the country.”

Strong credentials, exemplary service

Ark is accredited to British Standards BS 25999, ISO 27001, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 and has been selected to supply services as part of G-Cloud iii Framework. And, as a supplier of Ark’s data centre environments, SOURCE is able to offer procurement officers that same assurance. The result is peace of mind, as well as a guarantee that the service provided by both companies ranks with the very best in the industry.

In fact, Hall and Bard attest, what they offer brings clear advantages to the government when compared with the service provided by larger IT companies.

“The thing about using data centres provided by SIs,” opines Hall, “is that an organisation has its crown jewels all in one place. If it’s unhappy with the service being provided by the SI, it can be tricky to extricate itself from the contract, because it’s a massive job to move its data elsewhere.”

By working with an independent data centre provider such as Ark or SOURCE, Hall says that government organisations give themselves a greater ability to hold SIs to account. “Your data storage is separate from your IT contract,” he says, simply. “It gives the SI much less of a hold over you.” Bard agrees, and says this is one of the biggest advantages of choosing a company like SOURCE or Ark. It’s not just about maintaining a strong hand at the negotiating table, however: Bard also believes they offer a more individualised service to clients.

“We deal with our customers personally,” he says, “so there’s no chance of inquiries getting lost in the system. That person-to-person service, backed by first-rate credentials, is what sets us apart from our competitors.”

More than that, Hall and Bard conclude, this combination is what defines the public sector IT procurement landscape in 2013. “Government organisations can now buy the best quality IT services at market rates, from accredited suppliers who are committed to serving them,” Hall observes. “It’s a brilliant position to be in.”