Jack Bedell-Pearce, 4D: “many business owners aren’t aware of private cloud or colocation as an option”

All the recent global events have put the world into a higher level of uncertainty. Cybersecurity wasn’t an exception and, because of this, numerous companies have transferred their data to the cloud.

With the world going through radical changes, it is no surprise that society has a lack of trust in cybersecurity, as many programs that were meant to protect systems have crashed and lead to data breaches.

So, what should the company trust, and what additional security measures should be taken to ensure unbreakable cyber-protection? To answer this, the Cybernews team had a chat with Jack Bedell-Pearce, the CEO and Co-Founder of 4D Data Centres.

How did 4D originate? What has your journey been like since your launch in 1999?

4D was originally started by David Barker when he was just 14-years-old as a domain registration and hosting business. In 2007, David secured an investment from Keith Bedell-Pearce to buy and operate a data centre in Byfleet (called 4D Surrey) and it was at this same time I joined the company, as it transformed from 4D Hosting into 4D Data Centres. Those first years of running a business (and a newly opened data centre) through a global recession were, what you might call, a good learning experience. But the business came out the other side stronger for it and has been growing ever since. In 2017, with the Byfleet site almost at capacity, 4D acquired a new data centre in Sussex called 4D Gatwick. As well as growth in storage capacity, we have also diversified into other areas, including cloud, connectivity, and cybersecurity.

Can you introduce us to what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

Our main business is Colocation, which is basically like Big Yellow Storage but for other companies’ servers. We’re also a B2B ISP, public and private cloud provider and for our cloud and colo customers, we also provide cyber services like DDoS mitigation. For most of our clients, we help them significantly de-risk one of the most important aspects of their business – the uptime of their IT systems. This is because our data centres are specifically designed to be highly resilient. So when most companies would be offline due to a local mains power outage or an internet failure, our clients will stay online thanks to our backup power systems and resilient fibre connections in and out of our facilities.

At 4D, you place a lot of attention on sustainability. Would you like to share more about your approach?

Because we are looking after thousands of servers, storage units, and network equipment, our data centres by their nature use a lot of power. Interestingly, our infrastructure brings some significant economies of scale which means even if we did nothing to improve the efficiency of our data centres, if you compared the amount of power that would have been used if those servers had stayed in company offices versus where they now live (in our facilities) there is a major power-saving overall. But we go a step further by constantly reviewing and upgrading our infrastructure to make it as efficient as possible. This power reduction from more efficient systems not only reduces costs to our customers but is much better for the environment overall. We, along with the rest of the sector, are continuing to innovate and it is the intention of most of the sector to be net carbon neutral by 2030 (20 years earlier than the UK Government's plans).

Have you noticed any new threats emerge as a result of the current global events?

Brexit, the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine have all contributed to uncertainty in the UK (and world) economy. Unfortunately, all three will continue to cast a long shadow over business confidence in the coming years. It will therefore be important for all businesses to continue to run as lean as possible, look for marginal gains in productivity through technology and work hard to keep employees and customers engaged in an ever more WFA (work from anywhere) world.

Many companies have recently chosen cloud solutions as a way to enhance security. Are there any details that might be overlooked when making the switch?

It entirely depends on what is being put into the cloud. There are some workloads/applications (email, websites, CRM systems) that are ideal for cloud deployment given their ubiquitous nature. For any workloads that are non-standard though (machine learning, big data modeling, rendering, etc) or highly sensitive (healthcare, financial or personal data), there is a good argument to look at using either a Private Cloud or Colocation in combination with Public Cloud – in other words, Hybrid-IT. The problem is that many business owners aren’t always aware of Private Cloud or Colocation as an option in the first place.

What would you consider the biggest challenges that organisations run into on their digital transformation journey?

Vendor lock-in and trying to change too much too quickly. Companies need to review their suppliers very carefully when signing up for long-term contracts and consider the ramifications of that business going bust, having a major outage, or simply increasing their prices. Being able to exit a vendor quickly is something all companies should have high on their internal risk registers. Likewise, trying to move ALL systems to the Public Cloud in one go is a recipe for disaster. It is much better to move systems over incrementally as the stake for getting the migration wrong will be much lower.

And finally, what does the future hold for 4D?

As we state in our company mission statement, we plan to continue delivering the best managed IT infrastructure in the UK through growth and innovation – all thanks to our outstanding team and our clients!