BLOG: Every Cloud Needs a Home


Julian King, Commercial Director at Volta, talks to Lee Norvall, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Fusion Media Networks, about the physical infrastructure necessary for running the Cloud.

Written by: Julian King


“The Cloud” is a brilliant concept.  It has made, and continues to make, an enormous impact on the way companies are transforming themselves and the way they do business.

Making computer based applications available in the cloud has allowed companies to rethink their IT strategies and free themselves from the ownership of complex, inflexible and expensive systems.  But what the cloud is and where it resides, are not always easy to grasp.

Businesses have seized on the idea of cloud based computing and developed all kinds of innovative services like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).  And the use of cloud based services is growing rapidly.  According to recent research from IDC spending on public IT cloud services is expected to reach $100 billion by 2016, while spending on private cloud services (secure applications available only within a single organisation) will reach $25 billion.

But regardless of whether we’re talking about public cloud or private cloud, the cloud needs a home.  In order for it to function at all, the cloud requires a physical infrastructure - a secure location from where the servers and hard drives that contain the applications and store the data can operate.  The ‘cloud’ needs to be ‘on’ at all times, it requires fast and reliable data connections, all of which is made possible by an uninterrupted, secure power supply and buildings that offer unrivalled levels of security.  Step forward data centres.

Lee Norvall, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Fusion Media Networks which has a dedicated suite in Volta’s Great Sutton Street data centre, believes that a truly resilient and cost effective Cloud Service could not exist without data centres. “It needs a physical space that provides highly reliable power sources, effective cooling, suppression systems and of course World-class connectivity. Security is also very high on the agenda – starting with the security of the building itself right up to the security of the racks and cages and then into the realm of networking security.”

The growth of cloud-based applications means that all over the World businesses and individuals are demanding the ability to access their personal information, their business data and entertainment on any device and at a time that suits them.  The amount of data traffic now being generated through the cloud is astonishing.  A recent report from Cisco estimated that by 2017 global cloud based traffic, which is the fastest growing component of data centre traffic, would reach 5.3 zettabytes (1 zettabyte of data is the equivalent to the information stored on around 250 billion DVDs¹). 

Lee Norvall continued: “Everything we do now as consumers, even simple daily things that we take for granted like making phone calls or sending text messages is generating data and the growth rate  is truly staggering! This is just one of the areas that is fuelling the growth in Cloud services today; The Cloud needs to be dynamic, elastic in supply and allow seamless expansion when the customer requires it and this is all underpinned by state-of-the-art data centres.”

 Many years ago when people drew up presentations charts to demonstrate their IT and server flowcharts they would occasionally draw a fluffy white cloud with connections going in and information and data flowing out.  That is how many people still think of the cloud.  The reality, however, is much more down to earth. Any cloud’s home, its physical infrastructure, is the data centre.

¹ “The Dawn of the Zettabyte” Cisco blog 23/6/2011 http://blogs.cisco.com/news/the-dawn-of-the-zettabyte-era-infographic/

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