Cannon Technologies: how to build tomorrow’s data centres – Matt Goulding

The financial services sector is driven by data. As banks move to capitalise on the value of the vast data resources and develop services for the digital age, they become ever more reliant on the performance of data centres. Future Banking speaks to Cannon Technologies MD Matt Goulding about the company's needs for now and in the future.

As data centres become the backbone of the financial services industry, there is a growing need for efficiency, scalability, high performance and, above all, reliability. The industry must, however, face up to a difficult truth when optimising its data centre strategy - its current needs may rapidly change and it must make sure it lays the right groundwork now to ensure its data management processes keep pace.

"The need for future-proofing of any data centre is now a significant imperative, and particularly so for the banking sector where extreme reliability and data processing at high speed are critically important," says Matt Goulding, managing director of Cannon Technologies. "Active IT equipment and the science of connectivity are now more prone to change than ever before, which drives the need for essential future upgrades. To a certain extent, the pace of development of core equipment such as server and switch operational speeds is posing difficult challenges for current data centre designers.

Centre of attention

Cannon Technologies is a global leader in enclosure solutions and it has a wide range of innovative products on the market from megawatt modular data centre systems to telecommunications racks and cabinets. It works with its customers to design efficient and productive data centres that not only meet the needs of today but also provide for future expansion.

"Here at Cannon, we have long been keenly aware of this accelerating need for data centre future-proofing. We have developed a unique and broad range of integrated data centre submodules that provide highly efficient operation today and at the same time enable easy-to-achieve future upgrades to cope with new approaching technologies. The company has won global awards for this forward thinking and for the future-proofing aspects of its design philosophy," Goulding says.

"A surprising number of designer specifiers are under-providing for the data centre upgrades that will very soon come to challenge what they are currently creating. Short-sighted, in-built performance limitations will be costly and disruptive to banking operations when upgrades are required, and be in no doubt, these upgrades will come around very quickly."

Modular thinking

As well as identifying the problem, Cannon has taken a proactive approach to finding solutions to the challenges the future may bring. For many years, it has operated a sector-monitoring activity aimed at understanding the current and anticipated challenges and needs of the sector. The insight it has gleaned has led it to develop an integrated data centre infrastructure to provide high-performance solutions that serve as a cost-effective path to the future.

This integrated and multifaceted product set includes versatile agnostic equipment racks, reactive high-capacity cooling systems, intelligent power systems, containment and air management solutions, and much more. The company has also taken a lead on developing software and hardware for data centre monitoring and control to protect performance and provide early warning of operational problems.

"Cannon is a pioneer and a global front-runner in the science of modularity, which is a design philosophy that views the whole data centre investment as needing to be malleable, changeable, growable, variable and capable of increasing density with maximised efficiency at any and every iteration. The driver for this modular approach is financial investment efficiency. It aims to provide maximum and continuing financial return for minimised safe financial investment through a much extended life of the data centre asset," Goulding explains.

"Co-hosted data centres and single enterprise data centres benefit hugely from the latest advances in modular concepts. There is lower initial capital investment and phased investment options that can match developing needs, early optimisation and quick positive cash flow."

A considered approach

The modular approach promises to help banks avoid over-investment and enable them to benefit from much greater flexibility. The data centre itself can grow or shrink quickly and easily for relatively little cost.

"For instance, we provide variable cooling and power, enabling separation of provision levels in designated areas - low power density in some areas and high-power density in other areas. Future-proofing for power and cooling upgrades can be catered in the initial build, without prior financial investment, supporting a pay-as-you-develop capability," notes Goulding.

"The financial and operational benefits are matched by extreme reliability and software-supported monitoring and control at exceptional levels. The wise money is investing in modular," he adds.

Planned and preventative maintenance

From Cannon's comprehensive processes for monitoring its database architecture comes another key factor that has important implications for cost-efficiency - planned and preventative maintenance. This is a critical area in which the company has invested heavily in order to ensure to keep downtime to an absolute minimum. For industries that rely as heavily on data as financial services, the availability of infrastructure is paramount.

Cannon's Data Centre Manager (DCM) is a real-time software tool that constantly monitors the system's infrastructure in order to provide forewarning of potential failure at any point and to ensure that the necessary actions are carried out in a timely manner. Furthermore, Cannon Team Task Manager facilitates the detailed planning of every action, which can be precisely controlled, monitored, recorded and scheduled to provide a full audit trail and a precise template for planned maintenance programmes.

Security in certification

Cost-efficiency and reliability are certainly key concerns for financial institutions seeking to optimise their data centre provision, but there is one consideration that takes precedence - data security. This is usually taken to mean security of data in transit across the network and on servers, but there is another angle to consider - the physical locations where data is housed should also be protected with reliable and sophisticated systems.

"Security is the top-most priority above all else. It is a broad topic that includes cybersecurity but increasingly there is a focus on physical security against penetration of sensitive areas or equipment. Cannon has long operated in critical sectors such as the military, classified government operations, the security services and national health networks, as well as the financial sector and other commercial markets where blue-chip companies operate," says Goulding.

"As a result, we have invested in extensive product development for the protection of top-secret installations where threats are classified as extreme. Such sectors, in fact, are ahead of the banking sector, which is catching up. Cannon produces monitoring and alarm systems, and sophisticated access control solutions including state-of-the-art fingerprint entry control systems aimed at positive protection environments."

Efforts to ensure security, reliability and performance are central to Cannon's philosophy but the company recognises that it does not pursue these goals in isolation. Every data centre company works as part of a wider network of partners, so it is essential to ensure that community works to recognised standards.

"Performance hangs on disciplined procedures that are carefully structured, fine-tuned and well documented. Modern, international certifications for quality assurance within ISO standards have steadily expanded and broadened in scope, and now cover every aspect of an organisation's functions. Being audited and gaining certification to these standards is a challenging exercise, but when achieved it virtually guarantees that the organisation has been thoroughly checked and is functioning to the highest level of efficiency in all respects. Our partners and suppliers are tied into the same demanding regime so that the high performance is holistic," Goulding remarks.

Time to perfect

The technologies, processes and procedures on which Cannon relies have been honed over nearly 40 years at the forefront of the market for the design and supply of highly versatile and network-agnostic solutions.

"The Cannon team was one of the first to recognise that customers operate in the real world where it is imperative that mixed-brand equipment has to be accommodated and that this needs to be accomplished with ease. New builds, moves and changes must be painless and rapid processes, and our racks and associated components have been recognised as world-leading in this respect, and the company has received many accolades for its advanced techniques, product concepts and high-performance solutions," Goulding adds.

The company has not only experience on its side, but also a commitment to customer service and a keen understanding of the needs of financial services institutions. As the industry's reliance on data management skyrockets, it needs a partner that can keep up with the pace.

Cannon Technologies MD Matt Goulding.