Posts Tagged ‘Point of Presence’

Misleading companies – part 3

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

The final part of my rant (see part 1 featuring ConnetU and part 2 featuring IX Reach as well as euNetworks) is all about C4L (A.K.A. Connexions4London), a company who are trying to take the take the practice of claiming to have PoPs which don’t really exist to a whole new level!

I should start this with a disclaimer. I have been a C4L customer, I have used their network services, I have experienced their technical support and their customer service. Equally, I have had both customers and friends who have used C4L’s services. Between these various experiences over a significant amount of time, I can safely say that I will never be a customer of C4L or knowingly use their services ever again.

Every time I have had anything to do with them, they have managed to reinforce my impression that they are an awful company with an old, unreliable, congested network, unhelpful staff, slow support and non-existent customer service. Suffice to say, I may be considered somewhat biased. Anyway…

On the front page of their web site, C4L state:

C4L is a Colocation, Connectivity, Cloud and Communications provider headquartered on the South Coast, providing access to over 100 UK data centres and more than 300 globally.

Now, this is not the only misleading thing on their web site, or even on the home page, but as the other items aren’t specifically relevant to this rant, I’ve decided to leave them out (for now).

These impressive sounding numbers of over 100 UK and 300 global data centres appear repeatedly on the C4L web site as well as in their email newsletters, press releases and other marketing literature.

The thing is, that C4L don’t have anywhere near that many Points of Presence (PoPs). If you take a look at their network map (http://www.c4l.co.uk/resources/data-sheets/Network-Map-Connectivity-Data-Sheet-C4L.pdf), then you can very quickly see that the actual number is much smaller:

  • Telecity Reynolds House
  • Telecity Williams House
  • Telecity Kilburn House
  • “Manchester 1” (probably the M247 Ball Green data centre)
  • “Birmingham” (god knows)
  • “Derby” (Node4 Derby DC1 and DC2 – basically the same building)
  • “Enfield” (Virtus London1 Enfield)
  • “Milton Keynes” (Pulsant Milton Keynes, formerly BlueSquare MK)
  • “Slough” (Virtustream)
  • Telecity Soverign House
  • Level(3) Goswell Road
  • Telehouse Metro
  • City Lifeline
  • InterXion
  • “Brick Lane” (probably Easynet)
  • Global Switch 2
  • Telehouse North
  • Telehouse East
  • Global Switch 1
  • Telecity Meridian Gate
  • Telecity Harbour Exchange 6&7
  • Telecity Harbour Exchange 8&9
  • Telecity Bonnington House
  • “City Reach” (Tutis Point City Reach, formerly owned by QiComm, now Docklands Data Centre Ltd – DDCL)
  • “Greenwich” (the former BIS Anchorage Point data centre, now owned by 6dg)
  • “Bylfeet” (4D Data Centres Sirius II)
  • “Park Royal” (probably Telecity Powergate)
  • “Maidenhead” (Pulsant Maidenhead 1-3, formerly BlueSquare House and BlueSquare 2-3)
  • “Bournemouth” (C4L’s own data centre with their offices at County Gates)
  • Evoswitch Amsterdam
  • “Isle of Man” (Either Netcetera or Wi-Manx)

Now, that is still a fairly impressive PoP list, but at 31 data centres it is a lot less than the 100 that they are claiming in the UK, let alone the 300 that they are claiming globally – particularly when you consider that there’s only a single international data centres on there, and that is Evoswitch in Amsterdam!

This all comes back to my earlier question – what is the point of climbing more PoPs than you actually have? What do you stand to gain from it?

If you do somehow manage to deceive a customer into taking services from you at a datacentre where you don’t already have a PoP, then the likelihood is that you won’t be providing any kind of useful service – you’ll just be buying a single rack from the data centre, adding a markup onto it and passing it on to the customer. Now the customer has to go through you for access requests and remote hands, slowing them down and adding an unnecessary layer of complication.

Likewise with connectivity, you probably aren’t going to be able to build out a full scale PoP for a single customer, so you’re just buying a circuit from someone who does actually have a PoP in that data centre and then backhauling it to somewhere on your existing network. This adds a potential point of failure as well as complicating any troubleshooting as now three (or more!) parties are involved in any investigations.

In both instances, the customer could have got the same (or better) service from going direct and it would have cost them less. So all you have done is made it more expensive and less reliable for your customer!

There is no problem with reselling services, as long as you are adding some value to them. In these cases however, it seems that the only value being added is to the reseller’s bank account!

Misleading companies – part 1

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Something that I’ve never understood is why some companies feel the need to lie on their websites. I’m not talking about ambiguous marketing twaddle about being “a leading provider” etc. but flat out deception. This seems to be particularly prevalent in the hosting/network/data centre industry for some reason.

This specific rant was triggered by a recent project which required an IP transit connection in Telehouse West.

This shouldn’t be such a hard task – Telehouse West is carrier neutral and the Telehouse docklands campus is one of the most highly connected places in the UK, if not the EU!

I did a bit of Googling for companies claiming to have network PoPs in Telehouse West. One of the companies which came up was ConnetU, who I’ve heard of, but never had actually any dealings with before now.

On the front page of their web site (http://www.connetu.com) ConnetU state:

With over 15 London data centres on our network, we cater for a full complement of project requirements including location, cost and performance, from being in the heart of low-latency Internet to high-density computation.

and if you follow that link, then you get to a page talking about their London network that contains quotes such as:

Enterprise metro Ethernet spanning 15 London data centres

Now, if you click on the network map, then you actually find 19 data centres (although I didn’t bother to count them at the time):

Telecity Harbour Exchange (HEX) 6&7
Telecity Harbour Exchange (HEX) 8&9
Telecity Meridian Gate
Telecity Sovereign House
Telstra London Hosting Centre (LHC)
Tutis Point City Reach (formerly QiComm, now Docklands Data Centre Ltd – DDCL)
Global Switch 1
Global Switch 2
Telehouse North
Telehouse East
Telehouse West
Telehouse Metro
Level(3) Goswell Road
City Lifeline
InterXion London
Croydon (I’m guessing Pulsant’s Croydon data centre)
Greenwich South London (I’m guessing the former BIS Anchorage Point data centre, now owned by 6dg)
London Bridge (I’m guessing the former Safehosts data centre, now GSDV)
West Byfleed (I’m guessing 4D Data Centres Sirius II)

Now, Telehouse West is clearly listed on there as a network PoP with 10Gbps fibre/wavelength connections to Telehouse North and Telehouse East. If you click on the IP transit link, Telehouse West is listed again under “Available PoPs” with a link to it’s very own page (http://www.connetu.com/london-data-centres/telehouse-west) detailing a few key facts about the data centre as well as a list of which services are available there (“IP transit” and “Interconnects”).

So, from all this, it’s fair to say that ConnetU are clearly advertising that they have a Point of Presence (PoP) at Telehouse West (THW) are are able to provide IP transit services there. So, I filled out the “Request Quote” form on the IP transit page, which again feature Telehouse West on the drop down “Delivery in” list

Now, imagine my surprise when I receive an email from ConnetU saying:

we’re still looking for a decent reason to PoP West as there hasn’t been much demand in there to date.

This seemed somewhat odd based on the description on their web site, so I queried this and they replied with:

We’ve been waiting for a good excuse to break-out West – it’s a fibre run away, which can be done fairly quickly upon order. However, enquiries to date have been so small they’re just not worthwhile.

So basically, they don’t have a PoP in Telehouse West, but they’re listing it on their site anyway and if they get a big enough order for it to be worth their while, they will have Telehouse run fibre from their existing PoPs in order to service it…

Not only is this completely misleading, but as someone looking for services in a particular data centre it’s also utterly frustrating as it makes my job so much harder and just wastes my time.

I don’t understand how companies think that they will benefit from this sort of behaviour. Surely it’s pretty obvious that all you are going to end up doing is annoying prospective customers because you won’t be able to provide the services as the requirement is too small for it to be worth you while building a PoP, or the price will be too high because you’ll pass all the costs of building the PoP onto the client or the lead time will be too long because you need to order space, connectivity, equipment etc. and get it all set up.

I would certainly think twice before considering taking services from ConnetU at any of their other locations due to this experience. Why waste my time getting in touch with them again? Who knows how many of their other PoPs don’t really exist? Plus, do I want to do business with a company which behaves in such a misleading manner publicly?

Owing to the size of this rant, I have split it up into three pats so that it is easier to read. Part 2 focuses on IX Reach and euNetworks whilst part 3 is about C4L.