As is our usual practice at this time of year, we've going to provide a review of 2020 in a month by month format, so lets begin...
In January I was in Amsterdam twice, the first for a meeting with the Exec Director of Green IT Amsterdam (GIT), a meeting with the Schiphol Airport Development Company (SADC) regarding a DC build and a GIT fundraising brainstorming session, the week after I met with Steve Hone of the DCA and Paul Smethurst of Hillstone regarding the setting up on a DCA Commissioning SIG (more on that later) I also attended BSI TCT7/3 and TCT7/3/1 meetings, the following week I was in Saudi Arabia to conduct a CEEDA assessment. The following week I was back in Amsterdam to attend Kickstart and have a few meetings with Cobra Systems for the CATALYST Roadmap, a further meeting with SADC and GIT and to attend a CEDaCI workshop.
We also started the first Birmingham City University Data Centre Systems Management training module to 88 students, this continued, or was supposed to continue until Mid May (I'll leave you to think about how this went!)
We had a couple of meeting in early February, but during half term I was in Gibraltar conducting 2 CEEDA assessments, for Rockolo (GibTelecom), this was my third trip to the Rock! I was supposed to go to Rome in the last week for a CATALYST Consortium meeting but this was canceled due to a certain virus and we held it virtually instead, good progress on the project had been made and we're on track to meet the projects goals.
March was interesting to say the least, I flew to Brindisi in Southern Italy to conduct the 3rd CEEDA assessment of the year for a Global organisation, I cant say too much about it as it will be featured in a forthcoming publication. Unfortunately, on the 9th (I was due to fly back on the 10th) the entire country was put into lockdown due to the virus and it was touch and go as to whether I'd be able to get back home (depending on any inbound travel or quarantine restrictions imposed by the UK goverment (more on that later)) I was fully expecting to spend considerably more time in Italy than anticipated, still there are worse places!
In the end, the following day I walked to the airport (not far, I was staying literally on the opposite side of the runway to the terminal buildings) where my flight via Rome was still scheduled to leave, there was another plane from a low cost irish airline on the runway and further investigations that this was a direct flight to Stansted, the cost was €90 and as I was planning to attend Data Centre World at Excel later that week made a lot of sense, however, I had to clear it with our operations director, unfortunately, by the time I got approval, i could only buy a seat at the airport and the cost has risen to €330, so seeing as the flight I was booked on left 20 mins later I decided to go via Rome on my original flight.
The flight left Brindisi and it was a beautiful clear day and I could see both side of Italy from my seat, as well as the Adriatic Coast, all good. Arriving in Rome, I though that my flight to London had been cancelled (too quick a look at the Departure Board) but this turned out to be the BA flight and not my AerItalia flight. When I arrived at London, it was clear that the UK had no clue (this has continued up to the present) how to deal with this pandemic, there was no temperature checks, no onward accommodation details, we were simply told to self isolate for 14 days, seeing as there were mostly Italians on the plane and clearly only carrying enough luggage for a short business or shopping trip it was entirely likely that they couldn't or wouldn't self isolate, an utter fail in my opinion. Anyway, my operations director told me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT to attend Data Centre World and that I should return to base poste haste, where further actions would be taken (ooh), so I took the TFL train, to Paddington, walked to Marylebone and took the train back to the Shire, I tried to keep myself away from other people in order not to spread the virus, if indeed I had it ! Upon arrival at home I was immediately banished to the bedroom where I would stay for 5 days (when my daughter was at school, I could work in my office though) and in effect self isolated fro 14 days, we even put a yellow flag in the window! Keeping a track of all virus activity, it was a blow when the entire UK was put into Lockdown, but as we in effect work from home, its actually no different to our usual work practices, with the exception of course of visiting data centres and events, however these were all cancelled. I ended up teaching the last 2 BCU DCSM modules via pre-recorded material and we're currently planning a mixture of face to face teaching (when circumstances allow) and remote prerecorded and live sessions for next years course.
No trips, a few calls, and I attended a DCD Energy Smart Virtual event, we were supposed to be attending the live event in Sweden to deliver a CATALYST workshop as well as the panel session, but Covid-19 put paid to that. We had arranged a few events for the CATALYST project, visits to Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm with the Data Center Forum and well as a few other events but to be honest I spent most of April rejigging the CATALYST events website and making CATALYST Newsletter, you may have guessed that this will be a bit of a theme moving forwards. Oh, our Operations Director was put in furlough and spent the next 3 months making scrubs for NHS non covid facing staff as the rules on uniform were changed as part of the Warwickshire Scrubbers (a team of special people who were sourcing, cutting, sewing, delivering and collecting material to make Scrubs (she actually got an award from the High Sheriff of Warwickshire (we're even on their Christmas card list!) and a framed plaque!) This meant of course that the house was full of rolls of materials, cut patterns, pieces of unsewn together materials and finished scrubs and of the incessant sound of sewing machines, still it was for a good cause! The DCA Commissioning SIG was set up and we had a few calls with members, we produced a first draft of the DCA commissioning guide, scheduled for publication in 2021.
My Birthday weekend was cancelled, we were supposed to be taking a canal boat for the weekend, cancelled. Not much else went on apart from CATALYST work, where we had two deliverables to complete and further development of the Roadmap and the launch of the updated website.
Between ourselves and the Data Centre Alliance (DCA) we've completely revamped and updated the DCA certification scheme and are piloting the new criteria and processes with 2 DCs in London and Guildford later this year.
More CATALYST project stuff and a few conference calls with GIT and others. And we prepared a new website.
More CATALYST project stuff and a few calls, including a couple of presentations iMasons Thai Chapter overview on Sustainability and the Confederation of Indian Industry Green Buildings Workshop. We launched our new website
More CATALYST stuff, a few more calls and arrangements for a number of webinars on energy efficiency, sustainability and the CATALYST project (we had to hastily set up a series of 5 webinars to compensate for the lack of events to attend!). We split the DCA Energy Efficiency and Sustainability SIG into two separate groups, the Energy Efficiency SIG chaired by our MD and the Sustainability SIG chaired by Astrid Wynne, please visit the DCA website here for more info on these and other DCA SIGs
More CATALYST stuff, even more calls and a whole host of webinars, plus a few rescheduled events (lockdown was over, and a few hardy souls began to organise physical events again , unfortunately the 2nd wave put paid to most of them, the Operations Director spent a lot of time in London looking atfer our MDs mother who was on a slow decline, more on that later. The CATALYST project was deemed officially completed, although it was finally completed in December!
Our business was put on the back burner as the MDs mother had 2 falls and was admited to hospital, eventually passing away on the 8th October, the rest of the month was dedicated to organising her funeral arrangements and sorting out her will (still not fully completed) as you can imagine, this was a difficult time for the whole family, made even more stressful by various covid-19 lockdowns, tier issues etc. She was finally cremated on the 6th November after a full requiem mass at her church, many of her 'church' family were able to attend, but due to lockdowns and other travel restrictions, only 6 members of her actual family made it, the rest watched a live stream from the church.
One of the meetings earlier in the year bore fruit, we had thought that as our contact had moved on to another DC provider that the job had gone, but we were informed that we had won the project and could we start it, yes of course! We also had confirmation of a remote CEEDA audit (now completed) and a DCA certification audit confirmed. (Also complete). Featured in the Sunday Times article 'Silicon Valley's dirty data secret' and Computer Weekly's 'The end is nigh: Are datacentre operators prepared for a potential no-deal Brexit? which can be read here
So here we are at the end of the year, yesterday (23rd) we presented our provisional sustainability report to our client, and expect to complete the work in early January 21, we'll be spending some time over the Christmas break, on a number of outstanding items, as follows:
Review of BCU DCSM material ready for the 2021 cohort (due to start end of January)
Review of, and publication of 2021 EUCOC best practices, together with an article 'What's New in the EUCOC'
Preparation of submission of EUCOC Trend analysis and report, plus new 2021 EUCOC reporting form.
Secret EUCOC project!! (You'll find out soon enough!)
Further work on the Sustainability Report
Depending on a Go/NoGO call over the holidays, another secret project
Overall, this year has been a very mixed bag, we were lucky that we had an EU Project that kept money coming in the door, we've extended our network and we hope to be doing more 'sustainabiliity and assessments' in 2021, we've updated the DCA criteria and completed one of the pilot sites, we conducted 4 CEEDA assessments, 3 on site and 1 virtually, we planning to update the CEEDA criteria early in the New Year, we've completed an EU H2020 Project (Catalyst) and we'll be involved in a new one soon (ECO -Qube), we're updating a teaching a revised Data Centre Systems Management course for the BCU commencing in late January 2021, we have a project that we're keeping under wraps for now.
On the minus side we've lost so many people to the pandemic, we lost a close family member, Brexit discussions are going down to the wire, Charlton got relegated, although we appear to be doing well in League 1, Mayo were beaten (again) in the All Ireland Football Final, the Cleveland Browns are in with a shout of making the NFL playoffs, we've missed going to events and meeting up with our friends and colleagues in the Industry and we're dealing with a worldwide pandemic.
We wish everybody a safe and merry Christmas, we say goodbye and good riddance to 2020, although business wise its been quite good compared to other years and we look forward to 2021, its going to be different, but we thrive on difference.