When we invested £1.4m in our own state of the art data centre in 2014, the long term plan was to grow our market share of data centre services, and add a further data hall five years later.

Demand for services has seen that plan brought forward by two years, with the bespoke creation of a new data hall two for a household name client, and data hall three to facilitate additional new tenants.

Our managing director Garry Sheriff explains more about how data is helping to drive ITPS’s growth: “We are in the midst of a period of unprecedented change, with experts estimating that 20bn ‘internet of things’ devices will need to be connected by 2020. That means a massive amount of data, which needs to be stored, processed, backed up and managed in a safe and secure environment.

Our decision to create a high specification Tier 3, ISO27001-certified data centre here in the region was based on predicting the growth in cloud services and a shift towards effectively renting, rather than buying, ICT infrastructures.

It was also in response to a growing number of UK-headquartered clients looking to have their cloud infrastructures and data held securely in their home country, rather than in a faceless data centre thousands of miles away, with no local support. Our approach helped us to attract clients stretching from the UK and mainland Europe to as far away as Dubai and North Africa, who acknowledge the UK as a secure place from which to do business.”

The move has paid off handsomely and brought international recognition for the business, which was chosen by Microsoft as one of only a handful of worldwide ICT providers to be selected to join the Microsoft Azure Stack Early Adopters programme.

Azure Stack is based on Microsoft’s public cloud offering, Azure. Billed as the biggest step change in cloud services for a decade, Azure Stack has been developed to run on a private cloud – or a hybrid public and private cloud – basis. This can be customised and managed by an accredited, local data centre partner capable of providing a high level of expertise and local support.

“It delivers the best of both worlds to clients looking for cloud services, and we were very happy to be invited by Microsoft to work behind the scenes with their team to spearhead the UK launch,” says Garry.

“Customers are moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach, in favour of working with a data centre partner who can tailor a cloud model to their specific requirements, including setting their own service level agreements around the connectivity, access, and other elements.

It means that organisations operating within stringent regulatory frameworks do not need to be concerned about business-critical functions being housed in a public cloud, which is a shared, multi-tenanted environment over which they have little or no control.

“Our USP is developing strong partnerships, not just with clients but with partners such as Microsoft, Cisco and Virgin. It gives clients confidence that we work alongside the best and can offer best of breed solutions.”

The strength of ITPS’s technical capabilities, its track record in delivering complex ICT solutions, and its £1.2m communications infrastructure saw it become the only North East supplier – and one of only 13 in the UK – to win stage 2 compliance and the stamp of approval from NHS Digital to deliver services across the new UK-wide NHS communications network, the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN).

“We have invested £1.2m in optical communications so our clients don’t have to. We went through a rigorous assessment and selection process with NHS Digital, and were able to show that our peer to peer, high speed communications infrastructure and the services that support it go above and beyond their requirements,” continues Garry.

“The previous network connected over a million NHS staff, but HSCN also allows commercial organisations such as pharmacies, dentists, opticians and even care homes and social housing providers to access the network and share information.

It will underpin the digital transformation of the NHS, and we are delighted to be flying the flag for the region as the only North East based ICT experts to receive stage 2 approval. It puts us in a select group of major players and opens up a huge market for us, as well as helping health sector clients to deliver better value for money and ultimately improve patient care.

Even back in 2014 we could see the commercial opportunities in creating our own low latency, optical high speed network, engineering out any single points of failure so that whatever happens, our clients’ IT systems and data is always available.

It’s good for them and it gives us a real competitive advantage, for instance we have just fitted out Data Hall 2 for a client with very particular requirements. We do not believe any of our competitors have the same ability to do that at a granular level, and when you add in our unrivalled data centre, workspace recovery and disaster recovery capabilities, it all adds up to solutions that bring real business benefit to every type and size of organisation.“

To paraphrase a well-known saying, you can judge an organisation by the company it keeps. In our case, a stellar line up of big name clients and partners is testament to an approach centred on truly bespoke ICT solutions, delivered with quality, integrity and expertise. A winning formula and one that will continue to drive growth, both for our own business and that of our clients.