IT Life: The Joy Of Building Data Centres
Lawrence Buxton likes building Sentrum Colo’s data centres, and looks forward to organic computers
Lawrence Buxton is operations director at colocation firm Sentrum Colo. He has spent 14 years working in large scale data centres and IT projects, with experience working on large scale data centre and IT services migration projects, data centre services, project management and data centre builds.
He laments the arrival of worms in the IT world, and looks forward to organic computers and all-optical data centres.
Keeping track of data centre builds
What has been your favourite project in your work so far?
One of my favourite projects would have to be when I managed a full data centre build from the initial design through to the handover after the successful completion of the project. Build projects can be extremely fluid, as a result also very challenging to keep track of. But when all the key components fall into place to create a successful end result it can be very satisfying.
What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
I worked with and was involved in a number of technologies and solutions including disaster recovery, rapid server deployment, virtualisation, Linux, Windows, proactive hardware monitoring, clustered and resilient IT services (for mail, database, web based services).
What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
I predict that on-demand services will become the de facto standard, subsequently changing TV and radio as we know them today.
Data centres will witness an increasing number of all-optical servers providing high-speed computing, to meet high performance and on-demand requirements. These types of systems will also have the added benefit of low power footprints compared to traditional transistor computers.
Organic computers will also start to emerge, providing a significant increase in storage space, an approximate 1000 fold of what is available on the market today. This technology will also have the ability to problem solve and modify behaviour depending on the type of data that’s being processed.
Overall, we will witness an increased level of automation within the IT infrastructure will mean hardware will become self-healing and able to predict and counteract possible issues, or peaks in demand as well as automatically put a stop to attempts to infiltrate and disrupt the service.
Makers of worms and Unix
Who’s your tech hero?
Dennis Ritchie, a key contributor in the creation of the Unix operating system, the basis for so many modern day operating systems as well as the C programming language which also forms a significant number of modern day program languages such as Java, Perl, PHP, Python, C++, C#. He unfortunately passed away a month after Steve Jobs, but didn’t receive the same level of media coverage even though a number of his achievements have shaped today’s world of computing, both in the home and in business.
Who’s your tech villain?
Robert Morris, the creator of the first worm virus. Morris only intended to create this network virus as an exercise in programming. He initially programmed the virus to break into machines and ‘steal’ passwords but after its release it was discovered due to a flaw in the programming the virus crippled machines instead. Although Morris’ intentions were never to cause serious damage but to help organisations, it marked a significant change in the IT world and meant that the internet was no longer a safe environment.
What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?
The Kindle, it’s simple in what it does and it does it very well. The most significant difference of this device compared to other IT hardware, is that Amazon have not tried to tie consumers down into using Amazon only books or resources. As a result individuals can load any readable resource onto a Kindle – I even gave a Best man’s speech using a Kindle as my prompter.
What is your budget outlook going forward?
Growing – There will be significant changes within the next five to ten years in the way we currently operate and the technology we use but data storage requirements will only continue to increase growing forward.
Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?
Dyson; it is a truly innovative company that is also not afraid to wait and make sure that a product is ready before releasing it to market (I guess it’s more difficult to do a firmware upgrade to your vacuum cleaner).
What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?
To be agile and provide a personal service whilst following a good level of ITIL and change control practices.
To Cloud or not to Cloud?
I’d say both – on one hand cloud is a great method of deploying a system quickly, but on the other hand, without full transparency there will always be a question as to whether a service cloud can deliver performance without being affected by neighbouring clients. For business critical services I still believe that the best approach is using dedicated hardware, and possibly virtualising some components, in a safe, secure and resilient data centre environment.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I’m afraid it was clear cut from an early age that I wanted to be an Engineer. My parents learnt this the hard way when at the tender age of 6 I decided to rewire the home phones and only I knew how to wire them back to their original form.
Did you know about the Morris Worm? Try our security quiz!