Interview with Paul Foskett, the Chief Executive at 5NINES Data Centres

6 Mins read

This is an interview with Paul Foskett the Chief Executive at UK Headquartered 5NINES Data Centres, a specialist global data centre development and consulting firm.

1. Tell us something about yourself and your position in 5NINES.

In 2005 I was delighted to join 5NINES as CEO and since then have led a mission to deliver exceptional levels of data centre efficiency and have been committed to achieve the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) data centre developer in the market. Today, I have an exceptional management team who are all recognised leaders with the collective experience of delivering over 2,000,000 sq. ft. of business critical data centre capacity.

Prior to that I started my IT career over 20 years ago working for a UK (AIM listed) software company followed by a role as VP European Operations for a US enterprise storage manufacturer. In 2000 I founded BI-Tech Solutions delivering large scale enterprise Storage Networks in the UK and Nordics. BI-Tech integrated technology from storage giants such as IBM, NetApp and EMC that delivered reduced operating costs and improved IT agility. BI-Tech was acquired and has now been absorbed into Brocade.

2. What is the concept behind the name 5NINES? Tell our visitors about the origin of your company.

5NINES was named after the IT availability target, in other words delivering 99.999% up time. In reality this metric is exceeded with 5NINES enterprise data centre infrastructure projects, but as not every client requires ultra-high availability facilities (such as Up Time Institute – Tier IV standard), hence we believed that 5NINES was a reasonable metric to name the company after, also one of our Directors children thought that is ‘cool’.

5NINES core competence is the design, development and financing of data centre facilities for the world’s leading companies and governments. Every project is specifically aligned to our clients’ needs and is delivered to exacting standards where every element of risk has been eliminated from the start.

5NINES was one of the first to recognise the need to reduce the energy consumption at its inception and launched the industry’s first energy optimisation framework under the EODC™ (Energy Optimise Data Centre™) development standard, which drives our underlying added value proposition.

3. Give us an overview of the services provided by you and how do they set apart from others?

5NINES provides the lowest risk, lowest TCO, client specific, secure data centre capacity in the market, which are compelling on all counts. 5NINES is development location agnostic and solely concentrates on developing exactly what our client’s need, wherever they need it. Unlike developers and operators who build what they think there client will buy in advance, tying up vast amounts of capital and therefore carries the associated cost risk for unutilised capacity, which is reflected in the price paid by the client. In contrast, 5NINES mobilises its delivery service as and when the client’s requirement, location and capacity has been approved which removes this cost risk exposure and ensures our agreed TCO targets can be achieved.

The only initially concern our clients think about is one of our time to market, however our teams expertise, learnt in the construction and data centre delivery supply chain, means we can deliver new capacity within months and not years, which is unusual for in-house developed capacity. One of the facts our team establishes early in the project planning phase is ‘when was the last time you built a data centre’ and therefore if you do it yourself what is the risk. Whereas our delivery team is 100% focused on data centre delivery and therefore is able to eliminate risk and assures our clients success.

The key factor we encourage our clients to consider is the impact of time over cost, as time reduces risk and cost. We ensure that full on-site service is contracted directly between our client and a specialist data centre services providers without the usual operator ‘mark-up’. Plus we assist the client procure

their electricity supply contract, again without any on-going on-cost, margin or administration fee which is the norm in the co-location space. All of these factors have helped 5NINES to differentiate itself in the market and deliver a truly compelling proposition.

In addition to traditional property based leased solutions, 5NINES also provides lease purchase and refurbishment funding options using our unique in-house corporate finance experts, therefore enabling greater flexibility for our clients, that is aimed at securing our place as our clients de-facto data centre provider, whenever and wherever it needs to be delivered.

Our most popular services today are the data centre delivery manager; data centre assessment services; data centre financial planning and ICT continuity and disaster recovery planning. However we do not restrict our offering to these products, whatever our clients data centre needs we are always available to help.

This approach has been recently ratified as 5NINES has been selected for the UK Government Cloud Services Framework, which is tasked with dramatically impacting the delivery of Government ICT Projects. I am proud that my team has been selected to help make a difference.

4. Enlighten us about the “New Green Data Centre”.

5NINES has always focused on delivering the most efficient capacity in the market now and in to the future. We see the only real measurement of data centre efficiency is cost (TCO) and therefore how the energy consumption plays into the overall cost plan. When our specialists meet with a client’s CFO, they tend to tell us they care very little about jargon, like PUE but they do care about Total Cost of Ownership and they expect to be able to see how much it will cost day one through to full occupancy and beyond. As energy costs now exceed lease rates the key has been to find new ways to reduce consumption and by definition cost and make the whole solution as “Green” and as efficient as possible.

Therefore, we have, amongst many options, designed a direct cooled solution using industry standard infrastructure components that dramatically reduces electrical consumption and for the first time, allows 100% of the design IT load to be utilised, we are very excited about this patent, as it is unique in the data centre market place today. Quite simply a designed 1.5MW technical load will deliver an equivalent IT load of over 2MW, which has the net effect of driving up utilisation and driving down cost and consumption, by increasing the usable IT load by 30% your revenue utilisation increases by 30% and more importantly your net profit increases accordingly.

To translate this into carbon reduction on a like-for-like basic our EODC™ specified data centres produces 63.1% less carbon with corresponding energy cost savings.

The question of whether to retain legacy data centre or consider sourcing new provides Executives around the global with a very difficult decision. When their organisation truly understands the saving we deliver through our Energy Optimisation Solutions, the discussion rapidly develops from not ‘if’ but ‘when’. In a recent project we were able to show an £8m annual saving on a relatively requirement, which has a material effect on the clients results.

5. What is your take on eco-friendly hosting?

Eco-friendliness must be at the forefront of every step the industry takes and one that we have demonstrated over the past 6 years, for two reasons, firstly being a responsible and ethical company is the right thing to do. Secondly, it costs less – in financial terms as well as damage to the planet. Unfortunately, a large amount of the hosting market remains burdened with legacy infrastructure, even though the facility may only be a few years old. Energy efficiency provides hosting companies with a commercial advantage being able to provide services at lowest costs than their legacy tied competitors as well as a compelling proposition as their customers in turn require more ethical solutions.

A factor that seems to go unnoticed is that many hosting businesses are housed in co-location facilities, who usually charge a mark-up separately for power and therefore are unlikely to be motivated to want to reduce power consumption as it would reduce earning potential, additionally their legacy infrastructure will not have been written down and therefore very difficult to invest in efficiency improvements.

6. Where do you see 5NINES today and where do you see the company in 5-10 years from now?

Today 5NINES is driving forward with a number of scalable projects in the UK using the security of institutional funds to reduce costs and protect our customers business as they transition to a sustainable data centre platform, supported by our excellent consulting practitioners who will continue to ensure our clients receive the best solution for their businesses. In the future we see the business expanding outside our traditional European marketplace and to work in growth territories, such as South America & Eastern Europe. From a technical perspective we expect to see more major server, storage and network vendors working with 5NINES to exploit our efficiency and reduce even further their infrastructure power usage.

We will also continue to expand or technical and innovations department, this will ensure that 5NINES continues to drive the technology innovation agenda for the data centre marketplace.

All in all the future looks very positive for 5NINES and our clients.

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