Sean Hilliar, IP House
IP House
Category
Data Centre Engineer of the Year
Entry Description
IP House are nominating Data Centre Manager, Sean Hilliar as Data Centre Engineer of the Year, after a hard working and relatively speedy passage through the ranks of industry data management (please refer to his accompanying CV with this nomination).

IP House is an ambitious, entrepreneurial London-based startup offering colocation data centre services at the edge of the city’s financial district. Operating under the motto “Our House, Your Home”, the company is gearing up its reach into market segments including banking, finance, media, enterprise and gaming.

Hilliar says: “As Data Centre Manager, I am primarily responsible for managing and maintaining all of the mission critical operations at IP House, whilst ensuring 100% uptime for customers.

“This includes day-to-day management of the data centre, in addition to design and deployment of customer IT components within the white space and implementation of all critical infrastructure solutions.”

SMALL TEAM

He adds: “We only have a small team here so I am central in the decision making process as a result. It’s my job to specify and install the power and software systems with the key aims to make the data centre more efficient and ensure customers benefit in terms of cost and other advantages.

“When it comes to our environmental accreditations this is something close to my heart. When we acquired the facility we inherited a lot of inefficient systems that had to be replaced with modernized and efficient technologies. I believe we have to do the best for the planet and for each other – as well as adding value to the customer!”

The business was launched into the market in spring 2018 and Hilliar has played a key role since its inception. “During the first stages we completed a rigorous design and planning process, setting key milestones and working hard to research and recruit the best partners possible before the retrofit project began.”

“We had acquired a purpose-built data centre, but needed to upgrade the infrastructure components in order to bring the facility up to the standard we envisaged was necessary for the types of customers we wanted to address.”

A significant part of the budget went in building resilient new power rooms, efficient UPS technology, cooling, software, security measures and other infrastructure components, which ensure customers can benefit from a secure, resilient and best-in-class colocation service.

Hilliar said: “All of our founding team have come from a customer-driven background and wanted to bring a “for the people” attitude to the business.

Decision making in terms of budget has been one of the biggest challenges, says Hilliar. “Naturally, we wanted to have the best of everything right from the beginning, but as a startup we have had to match the data centre to our financial situation and make the right decisions regarding both timing and scheduling.”

Recently IP House has made a significant investment in their infrastructure, deploying a further 5 technology pods within the first suite to meet customer demand.

“We found that a modular approach works best for us: dividing the building into two operational suites, each with its own dedicated power room and populating them with racks and infrastructure equipment as both our client-base and demand grew. Identifying the right partners and suppliers was also a time-intensive task.”

He said the firm needed to work with vendors such as Schneider Electric and cabling firm HellermannTyton, in addition to partnering with service providers who could help during the creation of power plans and when facing the challenge of integrating the infrastructure.

“In the end, the philosophy behind it was simple; if we chose the right people from the start, we knew that we would have the right relationships and partners in place when we needed to add new equipment and infrastructure quickly. Our selection turned out to be strong,” Hilliar maintains.

“We have confidence in the quality of the facility and infrastructure we have built, and given where we are located, we believe we will succeed as long as we remain customer focused and deliver exceptional value – in addition to providing a premium service.”

Hilliar again mentions the small team that he is part of, and says it has been a benefit to him when it comes to operations. “I haven't inherited any of the systems I am working with, I have been involved in building all of them and know every hole which every cable goes through. This is great for maintenance and of course the customer benefits.

EXPANSION

And how about expansion? Hilliar says: “We are taking a deliberate modular approach to expansion. The facility is set up as two separate suites, each a mirror image of the other with its own dedicated power room.

“We set key milestones for the data centre, therefore once we have filled half the capacity of Suite 1 we will start to deploy the infrastructure within Suite 2, which will have more racks, more white space and more capacity.”

He adds: “Looking to the future, we have also begun evaluating potential sites for our second data centre, so it’s definitely an exciting time.”

STANDARDS

Globally recognised ISO standards provide clients with the peace of mind that their facility's critical IT assets are in safe hands. Hilliar oversaw IP House renewing its ISO certifications in autumn 2019.

These include ISO 9001 for Quality Management Systems. The standard uses a process approach and is based on seven quality management principles, which include having a strong customer focus, the involvement of top management and a drive for continual improvement.

IP House also has ISO 14001 for Environmental Management Systems. The standard allows the provider to set up an EMS that can help reduce waste, improve efficiency and cut waste management costs. In addition, the company has ISO 27001, the international standard for Information Security Management Systems.

By being ISO 27001 certified, IP House shows a commitment to ensuring that adequate security controls are in place to protect information and data from being accessed, corrupted, lost or stolen.

The firm also has ISO 50001 for Energy Management Systems. This standard helps the business improve its processes, use resources more efficiently and save money by cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions.

“IP House takes pride in maintaining the highest quality standards, ensuring that our clients truly receive the best experience,” Hilliar says.

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

One satisfied customer, with praise for IP House's Hilliar in particular, is the Deep Sea Geographical Surveying Company. It said: “We were seeking a short-term colocation solution with rapid provisioning for our testbed environment with high-density power circuits. 63A feeds were required for suitable testing of our IT infrastructure, particularly for our UPS needs.”

The equipment was only in situ at IP House for around three months, before it was moved to the site of the next planned submarine expedition. IP House provided important logistical assistance to get it there.

The customer said: “IP House were a perfect fit for our project, having met our technical
requirements. From our initial meeting, we were able to establish a close working relationship with the on-site team who were able to support and assist with our setup.

“Data centre manager Sean Hilliar showed an unrivalled passion for service delivery and client satisfaction. We were super confident in his capabilities, communications and planning around our solution.”

It said: “The service was delivered to an impeccable standard and we successfully completed the setup and commissioning of our IT infrastructure. Our team were able to complete this with great efficiency and they began the first phase of their expedition having had a comfortable, convenient, stress-free setup. A fully focused team is critical for our voyages.”

Deep Sea Geographical Surveying Company's head of IT said: “We would like to thank the team at IP House for all their support, hospitality and for being able to turn around our requirement so quickly. The absence of any delays from IP House guaranteed we remained on target for the deployment for this submarine project.”

Such testimony, a sterling CV showing a commitment to the data economy, accompanied by his great enthusiasm for the job, justify why Sean Hilliar should be a leading candidate for Data Centre Engineer of the Year.

SUMMARY FOR SEAN HILLIAR (ALSO SEE CV)

Job title: Data centre manager

Roles & Responsibilities:

• Managing and maintaining all of the mission critical operations within the data
centre.
• Quality assurance, system testing and integration, including policy and
procedural development, implementation and execution.
• Change management, including design and implementation of IT infrastructure
and IT operations, and installation/implementation/decommissioning of various data
centre equipment.
• Customer support, installations and upgrades including problem-solving, crisis
management and operational risk mitigation.
• Data centre design, deployment and change standards including all data
production and non-production environments.
• Administrative duties, which include capacity planning, maintaining corporate
databases and ensuring compliance with all government regulations, data audits
and records, creation of detailed equipment lists and schematics.
• Combined administration of the ISMS management framework and serving as the company subject matter expert regarding security and compliance both internally and externally.
• Ensuring implementation and operation of information security controls, whilst maintaining compliance with industry standards and regulatory requirements.
• Maintaining the facilities information security management programme, following
ISO/IEC 27001; 2013, in addition to maintaining overall audit-readiness for ISO 27001 certification, as required by the business and our customers.

Areas of Expertise:

-Data Centre
-Colocation
-Power
-Physical Security
-Data Centre Design & Build
-Software
-Data Centre Operation, Data Centre Expert (Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Suite)
-Information Security (ISO27001)
-Energy Management (ISO 50001)
-Environmental Management (ISO 14001)
-Quality Management (ISO 9001)

Key Milestones:

• Retrofit of entire facility with new power, cooling and network systems

• Gaining ISO Accreditations for ISOs 9001, 14001, 27001 and 50001.

• ISO manager - maintaining and renewing ISO accreditations

• Full implementation of Schneider Electric technology and systems - data
• centre operations and data centre expert (DC layout, cable routes, power paths, cooling efficiency etc)

• Working closely with vendors/partners to ensure maximum efficiency within the
data centre for power & cooling.

• Implementation of cold aisle containment systems, adding both physical security and increasing efficiency of cooling to racks

• Integration of vendor neutral devices to ensure monitoring is all under one umbrella

• Design and implementation of NOC suite

• Setup and implementation of customer ticket logging system, to allow for smooth
• workflow in raising and completing access/delivery/collection/support requests

• Design and implementation of a flexible network backbone and working closely
• with key industry cabling supplier HellermannTyton