Juniper Networks and Fasthosts execs on partnership benefits

George Daly, Network Architect at Fasthosts and Juniper Networks Senior Global Sales Director Manfred Felsberg sit down with Data Centre Magazine

Following Juniper Networks’ partnership with Fasthosts, executives from both companies sat down with Data Centre Magazine to talk about their respective careers and how their collaboration will benefit both businesses — to automate, expand digital presence and allow for the adoption of cloud-based applications. 

Manfred Felsberg, Senior Global Sales Director, Cloud Ready Data Center, Juniper Networks

Felsberg has held various positions in network technology companies since 1995, gaining valuable insights and experience in the field. His journey encompassed senior roles in established companies as well as contributing to the launch of several start-ups.

With a particular focus on data centre automation, he possesses a deep understanding of its many aspects. In his previous role he was responsible for Apstra Sales in EMEA at Juniper Networks and leveraged his expertise to assist customers in formulating effective strategies for rapid transformation towards automated data centres, while also prioritising cost management and long-term prospects.

Manfred Felsberg, Senior Global Sales Director, Cloud Ready Data Center, Juniper Networks

He joined Juniper Networks in 2021 through the acquisition of Apstra, where he initially served as the Sales Leader covering Apstra in the EMEA region. Felsberg recently organised the design and formation of a new global team, as Senior Director of WW Specialist Sales Leader Cloud Ready Data Centre (CRDC).

How are AI-powered networking solutions applied — and do you see a future in this being a growing practice?

AI-powered networking solutions are being applied to boost security, speed up processes and allow teams to work more efficiently. End users expect more from their solutions, so we are seeing an increase in uptake to address this.

The increase in AI-powered networking solutions is also helping to rectify global tech worker shortages. Because IT teams’ time is generally very limited, it is not efficient for them to spend hours working on time-consuming and risky manual processes. In an AI-powered network, this process is automated, allowing staff to focus on issue resolution. 

With Intent Based Networking (IBN) and AI-driven networking solutions, Juniper Networks has the optimal technologies. With IBN, end users can eliminate human errors in configuration and daily operational tasks down to zero and with Mist AIDE Juniper Networks can decrease tickets by 95 percent.

How does Juniper help Fasthosts to automate its data centres, expand their digital presence and allow for the adoption of cloud-based applications?

Fasthosts is embarking on a growth phase which includes a significant expansion of its physical footprint. For this project, the team turned to Juniper Apstra to support the design and build phase early on and supported the migration, given our best-in-class support teams and industry knowledge. 

Fasthosts was committed to ensuring that its new data centre network is built from the ground up with scalability and reliability as primary concerns. Our technology teams collaborated on the best approach to build the new fabric and to migrate more than 30,000 virtual machines and several thousand bare metal servers from previous Fasthosts sites to the new data centre while minimising any customer downtime. It was a huge undertaking!

Thanks to the success of the project, Fasthosts’ customers continue to enjoy the flexible resources and reliable performance they have come to expect. The partnership has also significantly improved network visibility and agility for Fasthosts’ IT teams.

How does your partnership benefit both your companies and the wider industry?

The new data centre hosts one of the largest cloud platforms in Europe, providing customers of Fasthosts and IONOS’ other brands with fast, reliable and secure websites, email, servers, storage and digital marketing tools.

Customers can meet their UK data privacy mandates by storing their data within the country. And they can feel good about running their digital operations in Fasthosts’ most environmentally friendly data centre.

For the Fasthost operations team the new data centre network is fully automated. 

How do you see the future of the data centre industry and cloud evolving? And your role within that?

As many customers are moving their workloads from hyperscalers towards alternative providers, Fasthosts will be very successful with their offering. Fully automated data centres are the alternative to public cloud offerings. For Fasthosts, data usage will grow exponentially, scalability will be a major theme going forward, as businesses look to future-proof their operations. New services will be added and needs to be included in the full automated operational process.

However, the issue of sustainability is increasingly central as businesses look to meet ambitious net zero targets. This project therefore reflects the growing trend for sustainable scalability projects. Something we are likely to see increase in the near and long term.

Juniper Networks is fully committed to a zero carbon footprint in 2025 and offering products and automation solutions to make it work for our customers. 

George Daly, Network Architect at Fasthosts

Daly has been working in the hosting industry for 22 years, the last 20 of those at Fasthosts, the provider of internet access and hosting services giving customers everything they need to manage their online space. During that time, he has been the Head of UK Networks and the Technical Solutions Architect, working across both design and operations. More recently, Daly has been focusing on building globally scalable data centre networks across the IONOS hosting group.

George Daly, Network Architect at Fasthosts

Over the last 18 months, Daly has been working with the teams to plan and execute the migration of thousands of bare metal servers and tens of thousands of virtual machines and containers from Fasthosts’ Gloucester data centre to its new Tier 4 data centre, which was built to be completely fault tolerant and has redundancy for every component, in Worcester. This, Daly says, was a fascinating and at times extremely challenging project to work on. 

“A key element was converging several different network designs into an automated fabric orchestrated with Juniper Apstra,” he said. “In the industry, it is widely believed that you shouldn’t change anything during a data centre migration. However, with meticulous attention to detail, a data centre migration can be a great opportunity to improve existing infrastructure. In this case, Fasthosts has streamlined operations, increased efficiency and reduced excess emissions as a result.”

How did you come to work in the software/IT industry?

I fell into IT by accident in the late 90s, when I was surprised to find you could get paid to play with computers. After trying my hand at IT contracting (installing Windows NT 4.1 servers in local small businesses) I did some tech support at a small ISP in Cardiff and became interested in Linux and TCP/IP.

After moving to Bristol in 2003, I applied for a job with a fast-growing start-up in Gloucester called Fasthosts Internet. I thought this job would be a short-term solution. Fast forward 20 years and I’m still here, working on innovative projects.

How has Juniper helped you to automate your data centres, expand your digital presence and allow for the adoption of cloud-based applications?

More businesses are looking to develop their digital presence than ever before. They are turning to us to deliver the fast and reliable internet and hosting services they now require. As a result, we have rapidly expanded our operations, including the opening of our flagship state-of-the-art data centre in Worcester, England, which is the first Tier 4 data centre running on 100 percent renewable energy in the UK.

As part of this expansion program we needed to migrate our cloud hosting platforms to the new location. We saw this as part of a wider project to consolidate our network designs into a modern network fabric.

We required a partner that would be able to provide intent-based networking software to automate and validate the design, deployment and operation of the data centre fabric, and would allow our customers greater business agility and operational efficiency. Juniper Apstra was our solution of choice in helping to achieve these goals.

How does your partnership benefit both your companies and the wider industry?

Juniper Apstra has helped us to stitch together the networks in our old data centre to the Apstra-operated fabric in our new ones. This provides a seamless network interconnect over which we can live-migrate our virtual machines with minimal downtime and no change in IP address.

Automating the configuration and management of the data centre fabric provides us with powerful analytics, and root-cause identification tools to help our IT teams identify and resolve issues more quickly and effectively. This has freed up the network operations team significantly, which we estimate equates to a cost saving of 85 percent compared with traditional manual provisioning.

Not only does Juniper Apstra provide a management interface for the network fabric but it also provides an API capable of integrating the software into our internal provisioning and development systems. This enables an infrastructure-as-code approach, where network provisioning, operations and visibility are no longer restricted to the network team.

How do you see the future of the data centre industry and cloud evolving? And your role within that?

There will be a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability across data centres, servers and network infrastructure. In these industries, environmental impact can be measured by the number of resources used in terms of energy, carbon and water. In line with wider company targets, we will prioritise the efficient delivery of services, without compromising our environmental credentials. 

Our ongoing work will ensure that our services are provided to a consistently outstanding level while reducing environmental impact. 

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