Datacentreplus MD Mashukul Hoque on carving a niche for SME customers

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Meet Datacentreplus. The company, based in Manchester, UK, is aiming to find a gap in the North West data centre market by serving the small to medium business customer.

“We believe colocation and dedicated server hosting should be simple,” a missive on the company’s website reads. “We’re getting back to basics and offering no-nonsense, straightforward colocation and dedicated servers, with a focus on quick delivery and great customer service that does not stop the moment you pay your bills.”

Mashukul Hoque (left) is the founder and managing director of Datacentreplus. His view is that the larger data centre players in the North West are not doing enough to keep their customers happy.

“The North West data centre landscape is the biggest outside London and the South East,” he tells CloudTech. “Currently, it is dominated by large players who are primarily interested in acquiring the larger customers, and their business model is geared towards that. This leaves a large gap where the small to medium customer is not very well served,” he adds.

This move was born, to some extent, out of necessity. Hoque is also managing director of Manchester-based software company Sandyx, and his “relatively small, but vital” data centre requirements were refused point blank – or if not, with a plethora of caveats. “There appeared to be little or no flexibility on offer,” he explains. “By adding in annual costs, set-up fees and network engineering support fees, I felt as though my business was simply being discredited and being pushed away.”

The North West, and the greater Manchester area in particular, is ripe for technological transformation. According to the Tech Nation report released earlier this year, the greatest volume of digital employment, after inner London, and Bristol and Bath, is Manchester.

Hoque has no plans to move, although he says Datacentreplus is already looking at a second, larger site. “Our intention is to remain in the North West and actually probably just in Manchester,” he explains. “We’re looking forward to providing some of the infrastructure that will enable lots of tech startups to incubate in Manchester.”

The company officially soft launched last year as Hoque anticipated some ‘technical glitches’. Yet he notes: “Many of our customers have come from the established data centres and we have been genuinely surprised at the lack of effort made by these data centres to retain customers. The data centre is now 20% full without any serious marketing effort on our part, so we’re pleased that we’ve made unexpectedly good progress.”

Not everything has gone exactly to plan, however. Hoque blames a ‘very slow pace’ in getting any kind of infrastructure upgrade from utilities and telecoms providers from going more quickly, among others. “The key challenges we have experienced so far is one centred round skills set – there is a real lack of UK-based engineers who have networking and other essential skills,” he adds.

Another key issue Hoque envisages Datacentreplus will face, alongside many other data centre providers, is sustainability – minimising power usage and reducing the environmental impact of data centres. In a research report published earlier this month, Emerson Network Power advocated a similar issue, although technological change is advancing; as Chris Molloy, a distinguished engineer at IBM notes, as IT equipment becomes more resilient, data centres will either generate less heat or be able to tolerate much higher temperatures.

For the time being however, having launched its e-commerce site last week, Datacentreplus is aiming to educate small businesses on the cloud – and go similarly stratospheric in its North West hub.

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