Any innovative business with growth ambitions must be vigilant about anything that might compromise its flexibility to expand quickly, or take advantage of new market opportunities. Real agility depends on keeping the cost and risk of change low, so that a company can follow the money.
In London, the pressures are higher still. The high cost of real estate and intense levels of competition mean that businesses must review their business models frequently, keeping a look out for new ways to reduce operating expenses without detriment to the customer experience.
Increasingly, on-site IT systems and phone systems are becoming targets for these reviews because of their limited flexibility, the space they consume, and the cost and complexity of managing them.
A new partnership between central London data centre provider Volta and IP-voice service specialist Gamma strikes right at the heart of this requirement. By combining Gamma’s acclaimed IP-based telephony solutions with Volta’s robust new colocation facility in EC1, the two companies are offering businesses the chance to move some or all of their IT and communications systems off site to be more flexible and cost efficient.
Gamma is one of the UK’s leading providers of SIP trunking services. These remove the need for businesses to operate cumbersome PBX boxes and expensive and inflexible ISDN lines. Instead, companies can choose from a range of flexible IP-based voice services, removing the need to host space-consuming equipment on their own premises and giving them many new options in how they manage lines, numbers and calls.
Gamma identified the opportunity to use Volta’s high specification data centre when planning for the next stage of its own business development. Although Gamma sells its solutions primarily through the channel – via resellers and service providers – it is also experiencing growing demand direct from small and medium sized businesses.
“Voice over IP is growing exponentially at the moment, as companies realise they no longer need to be held back by inflexible telephony systems,” explains Andrew Chalkley, Head of Data Centres and Service Providers at Gamma. “There are still a lot of businesses using old telephone switchboards but as these systems come to the end of their life, they are seeing an opportunity to take out that equipment, swapping it for a service that’s provided remotely – with much greater flexibility, resilience and cost-efficiency.”
Chalkley continues, “It may be that they’ve moved their IT systems into a colocation facility already (to bring down costs, or exploit cloud-based services), and now they can see the benefit of doing the same with their communications - because it will reduce the cost of their telecoms infrastructure and give them back valuable floor space. For a central London retailer, that’s a huge benefit. Also, some companies which move critical equipment and services into a resilient, fit-for-purpose facility can benefit from lower insurance premiums.”
An attractive alternative to ISDN
Moving away from a traditional phone system also enables companies to break free from the restrictions and costs of ISDN. “Instead of an ISDN-30 service with 30 channels, they can have fewer channels that they can use more flexibly – all managed via a simple, single connection,” Chalkley explains. “Their use of numbers is no longer fixed either – in a SIP-based set-up they can use any number for any location, including non-geographic and 0800 numbers.”
Of the opportunity to host its services at Volta’s London colocation facility, Chalkley says, “Volta’s Great Sutton Street site is very robust, with lots of resilience and space. Once a customer’s communications facilities are hosted in there, they’ll be very impressed. Features such as the row-based cooling capabilities really stand out. The site, which covers approximately 91,000 square feet, is a legacy data centre site which used to belong to Reuters, then BT, and is now completely stripped and refurbished, with two dedicated electricity substations in the basement.”
Tapping into Tech City
Having access to this kind of facility in such close proximity to prime business areas of the West End, the City and the so-called Tech City/Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch will allow Gamma to help a wealth of businesses in London Zone 1.
“We used to have offices in Shoreditch so we know what a vibrant and upcoming area the Volta Data Centre is in,” Chalkley says. “We’ll also be ideally placed to serve the needs of retailers in the West End, who are always looking for ways to maximise their floor space. There are very few data centres in central London itself, so Volta’s new facility presents an exciting opportunity and is a very positive development for businesses in the area.”
More customers, more choice
The partnership with Gamma is an exciting development for Volta too, adding value to the services it already offers its own customers. Volta’s colocation London advantages make its Great Sutton Street facility the ideal data centre to locate a company’s critical IT infrastructure, with resilient power and row-based cooling scalable for high density server racks and private caged data suites for those customers that require additional levels of security. Adding flexible IP-based voice services from within the same facility means Volta can offer central London businesses an even more comprehensive range of voice and data options.
“Increased mobility and the growth of video mean flexible, resilient and high-performing voice and data services are vital for any business today, and that’s the need met by the Volta- Gamma partnership,” says Matthew Dent, CEO, Volta Data Centres.
“Gamma’s SIP trunking services offer our customers the chance to give their employees a single number that follows them, the ability to take advantage of cheaper voice calls, and the opportunity to blend voice and data – with links to unified communications, video conferencing and all sorts of other benefits,” Dent notes.
Dent continues, “Through our facility in London EC1, Gamma can offer these services to companies right across Shoreditch, Soho, Holborn and surrounding areas - at such close proximity that the performance and latency will be unrivalled, and customers will have the added reassurance of being able to visit, see and touch their systems.”
Gamma’s expectations of the partnership with Volta are similarly high. “The exponential growth in customer demand for transformational leading edge voice solutions is exciting for us at Gamma, and aligning our propositions with data centre capability allows us to effectively address customer needs both now and into the future,” says Chalkley.
Chalkley concludes, “The potential to work with Volta to offer an integrated SIP based hosted solution will we believe, be enthusiastically received by clients focused on cost optimisation, increased resilience and enhanced flexibility. We believe that the timing is right and that the market is ready.”