The Institute of Telecommunications Professionals

On the 12th February 2015, myself and Virgin Media heart throb Ian Barry, attended the ITP insight at a Level 3 data centre in central London. Not only was the data centre impressive, it was also their largest in Europe. We learnt valuable information throughout their tour, concerning what actually goes into maintaining such data centres, and the impact Level 3 has in the Telecommunication community, but more importantly we learnt ideas that could influence our own centres.

The tour started around 10:30 as we headed down to the power plant, where we were amazed to see the vast sizes of their generators, holding up to 55,000 litres of diesel!! The sheer volume of effort that was placed into ensuring a reliable back up system must leave their customers overwhelmingly reassured, but of interest of to us, it very much seemed familiar surroundings to that of our own regional Headends.

 Level 3 Data Centre Apprentice

The tour of the actual data centre was where it really hit home. The management and cleanliness of their infrastructure just went to show how much pride each member took in ensuring an efficient network. Our own Headends as we know come under scrutiny for cable management, so it was nice to see the job completed to its full potential. This also gave us our own sense of responsibility to ensure we implement these methods when carrying out our own work, taking pride in the Virgin brand. An emotional Ian Barry, vented his frustrations to the lack of discipline involved when it comes to maintaining our own fibre management.

 Level 3 Data Centre 2 Apprentice

As part of our exclusive access, we were also permitted the chance to try our own hands at splicing. This delicate skill can be hard to master but with the Level 3 engineers at hand they made it look easy. Various members of the ITP engaged into this workshop with many benefitting from the experience.

However, Ian and I took part in an OTDR challenge, where we were tasked to find the break in an allocated fibre. We found this extremely helpful as it enabled us a better understanding in detecting fibre faults, making our own jobs easier.

 Level 3 Data Centre 4 Apprentice

Very alike our own Data centres and Headends, the equipment found was mainly for various storage hard drives and traffic routing purposes. Although it was of interest to see the traffic belonging to major sources such as Sky Go, Lovefilm and the BBC iplayer.

As always its truly outstanding to marvel on the ever evolving technological world, but also our Level 3 host for the day gave us an insight into a possible future that may affect our daily lives. From IPTV to even FTTH technology, it appears we may have a very busy next few years.

 Level 3 Data Centre 5 Apprentice

We both found the insight beneficial, and also inspired unique ideas that we could implement in our own working environment. As for Virgin Media’s place in this growing industry, I feel this trip showed we are right there at the top, with a lot of our own methods and machinery matching that of some leading telecommunication companies in Europe.

Our host for the day was on form and as always the ITP and it’s members were friendly and full of knowledge. It a great community for networking.

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