/ by Marek / , , ,  + .

Goodbye, MA2! Here We Come, MA5!

The full history of Reynolds House, Manchester, and its place within the datacentre industry in Manchester is over fifteen years long. Faelix was there relatively early in that story, as we installed our first rack there in the summer of 2007 when the C3 and C4 rooms were operated by Internet Facilitators Limited. There’s been a lot of change since then:

  • Faelix interconnected with Bytemark, who later moved to Teledata in Wythenshawe, and eventually sold to iomart.
  • AS41495 took transit from UKGrid, who built out a couple of other facilities in the Manchester Science Park, before selling to Telecity.
  • Cogent made Reynolds House their “hub” site for Manchester, and started to provide AS41495 with transit.
  • Equinix acquired Telecity Group and renamed Reynolds House to Equinix MA2. Kilburn House and Williams House became MA1. Joule House became MA3. And the former UKGrid Greenheys facility became MA4.
  • Faelix renewed its contract with Equinix for a five year term, due to end in July 2022. We also established our dark fibre ring between MA1 and MA2 and M247’s Ball Green facilities.
  • Equinix began to install baffles and air-containment to improve the PUE of the facility which was alleged to be as high as 1.5-1.6.
  • In the late 2010s a large telco leased a huge private suite taking up half of C3’s footprint, resulting in the site being almost completely at capacity for cooling (even though there was meant to be plenty of power still available).
  • There were on-off rumours of an air-conditioning and air-handling upgrade finally going ahead, for which equipment had long ago been purchased under Telecity’s management of the site.

With the background of the Covid pandemic during 2020-2021 there was much gossip about the length of the lease of the building itself. At the time it was owned by Digital Realty Trust and floors within it were leased to Equinix, iomart, and the University of Manchester. This issue was thrust under the spotlight when Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust proposed to, and then acquired, 11 datacentres in Europe which included Reynolds House in March 2021. After months of speculation about how long this arrangement would continue, on December 16th 2021 we received the following email:

Notification of end of the lease at MA2 IBX® data center

Dear Customer,

At Equinix, we continually evaluate our real estate portfolio to deliver exceptional service and high value to our customers. Our site evaluation process includes determining which assets are strategic to our business, their ability to provide an exceptional, high-performing experience for our customers and the cost/benefit analysis of continuing to operate specific sites. We also take into consideration timing on leased properties and after a thorough evaluation, we have determined that the MA2 IBX® data center (MA2), located at Reynolds House, 4 Archway, Hulme, Manchester M15 5RL, United Kingdom, no longer meets our criteria for continued operation.

Our lease on MA2 is due to expire and as a result, we are notifying all customers with colocation services in MA2 that effective 30th June 2023, we will no longer operate this data center. We are, therefore, terminating all service orders, statements of work, agreements and other ordering documents for licensed space and colocation services at MA2 between you and Equinix with effect from your current service term expiry date if this occurs before 30th June 2023. Please note, we are willing to agree to a short-term non-renewal extension beyond your current agreement up to the exit date if required. Please contact your account manager to discuss this in more detail.

To enable us to meet our exit terms with the landlords, we will require all customers to vacate and remove all of their equipment as follows:

Colocation customers: All customer equipment in MA2 will need to be removed before 30th June 2023. If you have any questions about the relocation opportunities available to you, including details of MA5, our latest Manchester IBX data center, please contact your account manager or the MA2 Relocation Team.

Managed Services customers: Our managed services team will be contacting you to arrange a smooth migration of your managed services to another IBX data center in the Manchester region.

If your current service term expiry date occurs before 30th June 2023 and we have not agreed to a short-term non-renewal extension beyond your existing agreement, please plan to remove all your equipment by the expiry date stated in your agreement.

Please be assured, we are committed to keeping any inconvenience to a minimum. Thank you for being a valued customer. We look forward to welcoming you into one of our other IBX data centers in the UK.

Best regards,
Russell Poole
Managing Director

For the last several months we have been discussing with several datacentre providers what our options could be going forwards. In the end we have negotiated a minimum five year term in Equinix MA5, due to start in September 2022. Our aim is to migrate all services from MA2 to MA5 during September and October, with equipment and network upgrades as part of the project.

We decided upon Equinix MA5 for a number of reasons:

  • Comparing the resolution of support issues at other datacentres in the north (usually indirectly via customers for whom we provide network support and monitoring) with our first-hand experiences at MA1 and MA2, Equinix’s staff in the north of the UK are exemplary. We can only assume MA5 will have datacentre staff of similar calibre, including some likely to transfer from MA2.

  • We have been in discussions with a number of carrier tier-1 and tier-2 networks who sound likely to make their first footprint in the north of the UK be Equinix MA5, assuming a sales pipeline to justify their builds. This large flagship datacentre campus (as MA6 is already well underway) is attracting interconnection.

  • The ability to connect to MA1 and MA3 via what is effectively diverse dark fibre for the same cost as a in-DC cross-connect might be Equinix tippings its hand that MA5 is the long-term strategy. This could seed an significant shift from the traditional “centre of the Internet in the North” of the 1990s and 2000s moving away from the Manchester Science Park campus.

  • As our business focus has shifted from purely hosting servers towards hosting infrastructure for access networks — in particular, helping alt-nets aggregate and distribute their connectivity — we anticipate the MA1/MA3/MA5 campus will bring more opportunities for our customers to the reach providers and wholesale carriers they want to partner with. While we explored M247 Ball Green and Teledata’s Wythenshawe facilities, they are both still overly reliant upon the incumbent datacentre operator and/or Equinix MA1 for national and global connectivity.

  • And, for the first time since being a Telecity or Equinix customer, in 2022 we were assigned a new account manager and he has listened to what we want to do and has been helping us achieve our goals. Our experience as a customer of Equinix finally matches the high technical quality we had come to expect — and long may that continue!

We’ll be blogging our progress as we work using the Equinix MA5 tag in our news section! Customers should watch our status page for updates about maintenances as we relocate hardware during the works.