ExcelRedstone’s Gavin Burger and John Smethurst discuss how the company’s smart building and data centre solutions are evolving to meet customer needs
Smart building solutions and IT infrastructure provider ExcelRedstone has helped global tech firms, financial institutions and retailers adapt their IT infrastructure to cope with the pandemic. From ensuring systems did not fall over in the first rapid move to remote working, to supporting staff and helping improve productivity, its 450-plus engineers have been busy across its operations in Europe, the USA and Asia to keep their customers IT systems running during uncertain times.
While the company has adapted impressively over the past year, the roots of its success date back to 1986, where they provided IT services to offices in the City. Since then, the business has magnified to a global level, growing five-fold between 2008 and 2020 as CEO Barry Horgan led a series of acquisitions, including the IT infrastructure division of AIM-listed RedstoneConnect and Irish IT services firm Kedington.
ExcelRedstone retains the identity that has got it to where it is today, they are truly customer-centric, and customer experience is paramount to their continued success. “We've grown from a family business founded over 30 years ago, and there's still the same accommodating and focused approach in the business today,” says Gavin Burger, Chief Commercial Officer, who himself joined 17 years ago. He attributes much of the company’s success to its culture, showcased in the long-term relationships with multiple global investment banks that it has worked with since the beginning. “The past year has highlighted the positive, flexible attitude and culture that we instil. The whole business revolves around its people – a lot of our staff have continued to work on-site supporting critical data centre infrastructure, which is a real testament to their hard work and commitment that helps underpin our entire business.”
The company has been well-positioned to weather the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thanks in part to the increased demand for data centres. “Over the last few years, we’ve seen massive growth in the number of new data centres, but even more so during the past year where remote working has driven demands for data centre connectivity,” says Smethurst. “The growth of these data centres is linked to the ever-increasing number of IP devices that are creating data - from your smart speaker to your smart meter, to your smart device, to the video calls we’re now on every day.”
“The large, hyper-scale data centre world hasn't stopped during the pandemic,” adds Burger. “In fact, it has had to press on at a greater rate than before – increased data consumption and changing consumer habits are driving the demand for IT infrastructure. We've had to respond accordingly to meet the needs of our customers.”
As the world emerges from the pandemic, ExcelRedstone stands ready to change with the times. “With the new normal, we've seen more of our customers going home-based and adopting remote working or flexible working,” says Smethurst. “But our field-based engineers and on-site teams will be there supporting users as they return to the office, making sure their office environment is safe with the toolsets that we have for workspace management. We’re always evolving to meet our customers’ needs, and we are already in advanced discussions with a number of the largest building contractors, landlords and tenants, as people start to return to work and how the office needs to adapt to the changing work styles and requirements of people. Technology is going to play a significant part in this change, from security, wired and wireless connectivity, people wellbeing, AV to better workplace technologies, ExcelRedstone are leaders in designing, building and running SMART buildings.”
Internally as well, the pandemic has wrought changes, as Burger explains. “It's opened our eyes in terms of understanding how organisations can operate effectively when they have the IT platforms to work from. That is critical for driving communication, and from that perspective, it's been really positive for us.”
International expansion will continue to be key to meeting these growth aspirations, and today the company’s footprint includes operations in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Singapore and America. In January, it hired its first US general manager, based in Virginia, along with local delivery and support teams. “Whether we're doing a data centre in the UK or delivering one in Japan, companies want global consistency and to streamline the number of vendors they deal with. You'll see more of that over the next year as we continue our expansion in the USA and expand into Asia to meet the demands and the evolving nature of our customers.”
That’s particularly true of hyper-scale customers, as Burger explains. “We're finding that the large hyperscalers are looking to replicate the complex end to end operational delivery jigsaw from one region to another to help drive efficiency and enhance project delivery in terms of quality, cost and timescale: ‘With a team of 450 engineers and over 40 project managers across the company, as well as a dedicated hyper-scale team specialising in compliance, design, and delivery, ExcelRedstone attracts some of the biggest players in the market. “We can offer these clients end-to-end data centre solutions, from the initial design and installation of structured cabling systems, cable containment and hot or cold aisle containment solutions through to a full suite of IP services including networking, IP surveillance, access control, environmental monitoring etc.” adds Smethurst. Beyond that, ExcelRedstone also provides managed services for the support, maintenance and optimisation of client data centres and computer rooms. “It’s one thing having the tools, but it’s really a question of how you use them. That's why a big part of our business is the managed services to support data centre environments.”
ExcelRedstone’s work wouldn’t be possible without support from their prestigious portfolio of partners, as Smethurst explains. “We are proud to work with many of the leading manufacturers and solutions providers of network infrastructure and associated technology. This broad-based approach allows us to select the very best solutions for each and every client application, regardless of manufacturer or vendor.”
For example, ExcelRedstone has worked with Vertiv, Corning and Prism DCS on a number of large scale, high profile data centre projects over the years. “We’ve got a long-standing relationship with Vertiv, and we work really well together within the data centre space, particularly in terms of their UPS, PDU and Thermal Management solutions. This helped us achieve Vertiv Diamond Partner of the year for Northern Europe in 2020, which we are extremely proud of.” As a Corning Pretium NPI (Network of Preferred Installers), ExcelRedstone holds the highest accreditation available and is one of the largest installers of Corning solutions in EMEA. ExcelRedstone also works closely with UK manufacturer Prism DCS. “When a particular customer wants something different, we’ve taken a number of our data centre clients to Prism DCS, where they’ve customised and built bespoke solutions for cabinets, security caging or hot and cold aisle containment solutions.”
Looking to the future, the company intends to keep up the rapid pace of growth it has been enjoying. “We've grown significantly over the past few years,” says Smethurst. “The ambition is to quadruple in size again over the next five to 10 years. We recently ranked number 1 in The Sunday Times’ 2020 league table of companies with the fastest-growing international sales, and obviously, the aim is to try and maintain that.”
Supporting that growth is the company’s laser focus on its customers. “We're a trusted partner for global providers, which is key to our long-term growth,” says Burger. “Giving our customers the consistency of what they're looking for across a number of different geographic locations underpins that, which is why we've opened up six new entities across the globe in the last two years.”