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Virgin Media Business Touts Data Centre Connectivity

Virgin Media Business has launched its heavy duty connectivity offerings for the data centre sector

Virgin Media Business has recognised the increasing demand for carrier grade data centre connectivity with the launch of a tailored service for that sector, which it claims can dramatically reduce power and space consumption.

Its data centre proposition is designed to connect customers to a range of services at speeds up to 10Gbps, coupled with network resilience. Each interconnect can connect up to 8,000 users.

“The launch of our data connectivity proposition is in response to the growth in data centres and the demand for connectivity services,” explained Dave Green, product manager at Virgin Media Business, speaking to eWEEK Europe.

Carrier Grade Connectivity

“We want to support the demand in these data centres, especially as data centres increasingly move outside of the London market. We offer a capacity managed service where our teams ensure that there is always enough capacity at all times for the data centre,” said Green.

Green noted that demand for carrier grade connectivity is increasing thanks to the advent of the cloud. “We enable our customers to achieve connectivity cost savings, and offer a one stop shop for connectivity and services.”

Green said that this new service from Virgin Media Business has primarily attracted interest from companies that own their own private centres and that are thinking of running a cloud-based setup, as well as system integrators. “That is where we are seeing the great demand at present but, saying that, we have had discussions with carrier neutral players as well,” he said.

“When the data centre began moving outside of London, it was often the case that the communications option was the last piece of the conversation,” said Green. “Now there is understanding if a data centre is located in the middle of nowhere, it has to have right the communications connectivity to round off that offering. Otherwise it is like building a roundabout but with no roads leading off it, which is a waste of time.”

Green said that data centre builders are now increasingly getting in contact with Virgin Media Business to see if the company can offer them any connectivity options in the area they are building. Green cited that Virgin’s “massive” network covers 85 percent of UK businesses, thanks to its 186,000 kilometres of fibre in the UK. Besides BT, Virgin Media Business is nine times larger than its next nearest provider.

Power Saving?

But how does the company explain its claim that its data centre connectivity options can reduce power and space consumption?

“Power wise we will utilise wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) technology, (i.e. big fat pipes) to give the right level of connection. The provider we use is Transmode and its power and space footprint is incredibly good. For example, a full loaded box that can support 40 10Gbps services only has 750 watts power usage.”

Green admitted that the data centre connectivity option from Virgin Media Business may not be suitable for all data centres, although the company will talk to anyone. “It is a point about scale. For a small data centre that has mainly connectivity via the Internet, this service may not be appropriate  for them, as it is more suited to data centres with the need for a lot of individual connectivity.”

Green said that, so far, Virgin Media Business has £9 million worth of orders in the pipeline for connectivity services, just from talking to a number of system integrators. “The customer does not have to worry about power constraints or have any capacity concerns, we look after the network for you.”

Network Reach

Green admitted that Virgin’s network may not reach data centres in remote regions of the UK such as in Lockerbie in Scotland, but it will look at the cost of deploying connectivity to those areas or utilise third party pipes.

Green acknowledged that 10Gbps connectivity is pretty much the norm at the moment, but felt it would be a while before we see serious takeup of 40Gbps and 100Gbps. “There has been discussion about 40Gbps and 100Gbps speeds for some time now. Today Virgin runs our core optical services at 40Gbps, but it has been designed to run at up to 100Gbps,” said Green.

“100Gbps is very much in our mind at the moment but personally I don’t see it happening for a while yet because of the cost of 100Gbps blades and routers,” he said. Green thinks there is enough capacity thanks to wavelength-division multiplexing techology.

Resilient Option

Green touted the fact that Virgin Media Business can offer its customers true network resilience. “Our service is credible and can be used for dual network resilience for data centre owners,” said Green. “Other than BT, we are only the other carrier that can offer this resilience, which will help us break into this market.

“We are here to stay and we would be absolutely mad not to take this opportunity to move forward and be a leading provider of connectivity in this space,” said Green. “Data centre connectivity is the just first of our announcements in this space, and you can expect more exciting announcements in the future.”