Considering a venture (not adventure)

I have been thinking about, and planning this venture for the last six months.

I am considering setting up a datacentre.

Well, two actually, but let’s concentrate on one for now.

In the last two years I have migrated a number of systems away from central government departments, and from large local authorities; from in-house infra to an external datacentre.

Three migrations have been virtual to virtual, one was physical to virtual, and the most recent has been physical to physical.

I’ve migrated a large-scale finance system with a turnover of £52bn/year.

I’ve moved over 400 corporate systems.

I’ve moved public-facing Sharepoint-based data collection systems (SQL-Server back-ends with feeds through to corporate datafarms).

I’ve moved office systems such as email, print services, site access systems/security systems, etc.

While I’ve been working on these projects I’ve been looking at the hosting sector, and I’ve been looking at who does what for whom.

I’ve noticed that the datacentre providers concentrate on very large customers.

And I’ve noticed that there doesn’t seem to be anyone concentrating on smaller-to-medium customers.

What I would like to do is offer datacentre services that focus on very small public-sector customers, and small-to-medium private sector customers.

Nobody is offering services to small local authorities, because the fat profit margins they’re used to don’t exist.

Think about what happened to South Oxfordshire District Council a few days ago – and also happened to Vale Of White Horse District Council in the same event.

Also, over in the private sector world, small-to-medium businesses don’t even think about datacentre operations.

Small-to-medium businesses don’t usually have any BC/DR plan other than taking backups and keeping them in a safe on-site.

I’ve walked through business parks, knocking on doors, asking questions.

All I’ve found is that staff in small-to-medium businesses communicate internally by emailing attachments around, and storing data/applications on individual hard-disks.

Small-to-medium businesses give precious little thought about proper file/information sharing, and give no consideration to either externally hosting things, or BC/DR.

They’re vulnerable to theft.

They’re vulnerable to data corruption.

They work in inefficient ways.

I would like to build a datacentre with a pick-list of services.

At the shallow end the datacentre would offer low-level services, such as just hosting backed-up data.

At the deep end the services would include hosting of websites, email systems, production business systems, file-shares, etc.

I’m looking at racked servers, hosting VMs, running CentOS.

I have a shortlist of appropriate business units.

If this goes ahead I would choose a business unit, build server rooms in it, get cable installed, build server racks, put in UPSs. And install network switches, and the servers.

Notwithstanding the ‘how do I intend to get customers onboard’ question (actually, I have a plan for that), what do you think about the cunning plan – the general idea?

I’m under no illusions, this isn’t going to make shedloads of cash. But it is going to pay for itself.

And it is going to offer services to a sector that is under catered-for.

Oh yes, and another feature of this concept is that all aspects would be domestically-hosted.

Anyone who says, what about (insert name of US corporation here) doesn’t understand the full implications of this ruling.

Nothing would go out to a US-owned, non-European company, so DPA compliance and IL3 accreditation would be offered and maintained.

Thoughts?

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4 Responses to Considering a venture (not adventure)

  1. Allister says:

    The problems sound familiar even to my limited experience here. I think you’re on to something.

    • Brennig says:

      Allister, thanks. I think it’s worthwhile pursuing. I’ve had mixed feedback from a group of other folk. So I’m going to pursue it, but in an incremental kind of way.

  2. Masher says:

    It’s a bold idea, certainly, but also a costly one to set up, I would have thought.

    What about your proposed customer base? As you say, they’ve been happily chugging along for years with no problems – maybe somewhat inefficiently – so, is the prospect of centralised file storage with automatic backups really going to persuade them to part with a monthly/annual fee, when they’ve never really needed it in the past?

    You and I can see the benefits, but will they?

    If there is definitely a gap in the market – as you suggest – then yes, you may well be onto something viable.

    • Brennig says:

      Cheers Masher. I think my pricing model would make it an attractive concept. But I’ve got a cunning plan about making this happen.