Keysource completes IT transformation project for Willis Towers Watson

Critical environment specialist, Keysource, has completed a multi-million pound IT transformation project for global advisory, broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson.

Keysource was appointed by Willis Towers Watson in 2016 to support its global IT transformation, following the merger of Willis Group and Towers Watson. Designed to underpin Willis Towers Watson’s global IT strategy and prepare it for future business activity, Keysource delivered significant upgrades to two live data centre facilities in Ipswich and Reigate, which host critical data for the firm’s business, including the delivery of two new data halls.

Keysource consultancy teams worked in close partnership with Willis Towers Watson on the design and delivery approach, evaluating a number of options and strategies. Once a recommendation had been made, Keysource were then appointed under a design and build contract for a full turnkey project to upgrade two data centres which service much of Willis Towers Watson’s global business.

The project has provided Willis Towers Watson with its own on-premise, data estate with cloud-like flexibility, enhanced security and resiliency assurance – a business-critical consideration for the organisation and its customers. The new IT infrastructure will  also, reduce overheads and provide a platform to support the future growth of the business.

Paul West, Global Data Centres Director at Willis Towers Watson said:

“The delivery of the new data centre expansion was a crucial part of our IT strategy and has taken us to another level of resiliency. From designing to our requirements and delivering the project without downtime, the team at Keysource were instrumental in the project’s success.”

Jon Healy, Managing Executive at Keysource, said:

“Many of our customer are facing the challenge of transforming their data centre estate to meet the requirements of today and the future. As a key technology partner we are delighted to continue supporting Willis Towers Watson’s global strategy through the planning and execution of key tactical projects.

“Our appreciation of the IT services being delivered and Willis Towers Watson’s operational business environment, allowed us to tailor the delivery of this critical project to minimise the impacts, which are inherent within projects of this nature.”

Keysource breaks new ground in China

Just over one month into the New Year and Keysource has already celebrated a major project milestone, with construction beginning at the major 80-acre data campus in Tianjin for Chayora, one of China’s leading data centre operators.

Our team is designing the site’s nine data centres, comprising of six general-purpose facilities and three high performance computing centres – a total of 21,000 racks and over 300MW. The site will serve the data needs of a range of international businesses and the greater Beijing region, which is home to more than 150 million people.

The Tianjin site is the first in a series of key data campuses that we will help Chayora deliver across China, alongside sites in Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, as part of the business’ $2bn investment in infrastructure.

We were appointed in 2016 as Chayora’s lead design partner to provide initial strategic site planning, and as part of our partnership we have also been working with end customers to help meet their specific requirements.

Stephen Whatling, Managing Director of Keysource, said:

“China is rapidly becoming one of the world’s largest data centre markets and our partnership with Chayora is a key way we can help meet demand.”

“Working within such a strict regulatory environment and on such a large scale has put our expertise and consultancy skills to the test, but one we have more than risen to. We’re looking forward to getting to the next phases.”

The first phase of the Tianjin development will offer 25MW of power capacity and is expected to come online by the end of 2018.

Safe Harbour seems more like a rough sea

The impact of last months’s unexpected referendum result is yet to be fully defined, however it is likely to affect all of us in the data centre world and possibly acerbate some of the challenges ahead. The issues around the ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement is just one example of the confusion that we are facing, and are likely to continue to face, in the coming months.

It was last October that The European Court of Justice ruled that the “Safe Harbour” agreement, which was designed to provide a “streamlined and cost-effective” way for US firms to get data from Europe without breaking EU rules, was no longer valid. The result following the ECJ decision was several months of confusion and in some cases panic before the Privacy Shield Pact was introduced instead. The main difference is that US companies can no longer rely on self-certification and must seek to strike “model contract clauses” in each case. These agreements will then authorise the transfer of data outside of Europe.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU means that we will no longer be bound by decisions of the ECJ and we are likely to have to create our own regulations. However I don’t believe we should ignore its findings or the views of European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli, who criticised the Safe Harbour’s replacement describing it as ‘not robust enough’ and needing ‘significant improvements.’ The UK will need to factor these in to ensure that its citizens’ personal information remains safe.

There is no doubt that the UK’s decision to leave the EU has added instability to an already uncertain market. Before the results of the referendum were known CBRE’s quarterly review of data centre supply and demand in Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris, reported that the amount of data centre space taken up during the first quarter of 2016 was well above average leaving spare capacity in short supply. In fact the amount of spare data centre capacity in four major European cities is at its lowest level since the end of 2013, as cloud providers respond to user demand for locally hosted services.

The report suggests that this is in part due to the uncertainty surrounding the successor to the Safe Harbour US data transfer agreement which is motivating more IT infrastructure firms to consider data centres in Europe. Whilst this is understandable it is likely to increase costs which will ultimately be passed along the supply chain.

At Keysource we are working closely with our clients who are affected by these issues and helping them to continue to operate cost effectively and remain compliant during this difficult time.

This was originally published on Data Centre Solutions blog on the 6th July 2016.

Keysource awarded major contract to design nationwide network of data centres throughout China

Chayora, a Hong Kong-based data centre infrastructure company, has chosen Keysource as its lead design consultancy partner for a nationwide network of world-class, licensed data centre campuses in some of China’s most important cities. These will enable international online companies to effectively access the vast and rapidly developing Chinese market, providing the most reliable and assured route to business engagement in the region.

It follows last week’s announcement that Chayora Holdings Limited has reached an agreement for Standard Chartered Bank Principal Finance to become the lead institutional investor in Chayora, securing a strategic minority stake and providing equity funding for key data centre development projects.

Under the terms of the deal, Keysource will be responsible for delivering strategic design advice and site master planning in the initial phase. Leading the design team, Keysource will then work with Chayora and its customers to deliver designs in accordance with client requirements, site plans and in country codes.

The fully enabled, state-of-the-art, licensed data centre campuses will be constructed in key locations across China – initially in Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, offering a range of options such as Powered Land, Built-to-Suit, Assured Scalability and Wholesale Colocation

All Chayora sites have fully provisioned power from grid and direct feed renewable sources, and are fibre-connected to world-class standards, ready for data centre construction and immediate connection to the domestic internet. The campuses are very large creating technology districts in key cities.  For example in Tianjin, it is anticipated that up to 12 data centres will ultimately be constructed on the Chayora campus amounting to around 3.5 million sq ft of buildings, with around half that total in white space.

Commenting on the announcement Mike West, CEO at Keysource, said:

“This project builds on our growing experience in Asia, which will undoubtedly become the world’s largest data centre market. It is testament to the proven quality of our design consultancy and understanding of the global data centre market. This is a highly vibrant market and we believe we have the skills and expertise to continue to deliver outstanding results here.”

Oliver Jones, Chief Executive at Chayora, said:

“Keysource has been selected to provide services for Chayora based on the company’s unrivalled and proven capability to deliver world-class facilities. They have a strong understanding of our clients’ needs and are able to quickly translate business drivers into deliverable projects. Keysource has demonstrated a passion for engagement in China, understanding the regulatory environment whilst respecting cultural differences. This has underpinned the successful award of our first two Data Centre Operator’s Licences as part of the wider technical and commercial team.”

About Chayora: Chayora Holdings Limited is a Cayman Island company and is the 100% owner of Chayora Limited, headquartered in Hong Kong which develops large-scale, world-class designed and operated, long-term scalable data centres and data centre parks in China. Chayora serves global Fortune 500 companies and premium Chinese data centre users offering cloud services, ICT services, financial services or other services offerings relying on intensive, high quality data centre infrastructure in China.

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