Six Degrees is a cloud-led managed service provider. It works as a collaborative technology partner to businesses making a digital transition. Timothy Arnold is Head of Colocation at the company and he tells us how he likes to relax and unwind outside the office.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?
Opening Six Degrees’ flagship Birmingham Central data centre and delivering our first client at the facility has been a real career highlight for me. It is, in my admittedly biased opinion, the best data centre facility in the Midlands. As someone who is Midlands born and bred, that means a lot to me. Our Midlands data centre facilities were awarded the European Code of Conduct on Data Centres Energy Efficiency, which I collected from Joan Collins at a glitzy ceremony in Monaco – a memorable occasion for sure!
What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?
Technology has always been in my blood. When I was growing up, my dad would take me on day trips to London where we’d visit the computer stores on Tottenham Court Road. We’d purchase a variety of hardware components so we could build desktop PCs for friends and family. The hardware of choice was Intel processors – mainly DX2-66 in the early years, then moving to Pentium processors with an entire 120 MHz processing speed in 1996. My career in data centres has really been an evolution from those early days. As a student I had a part-time job working for a software development company, which allowed me to save up and buy a dual processor gaming desktop – unheard of at the time. I then spent time working on servers and infrastructure before moving to data centres in the early 2000s.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My management philosophy is pretty straightforward – just get it done. I’ve never been afraid to pick up a screwdriver myself and play my part in maintaining and improving our data centre facilities. I’m fortunate to have a team that shares my passion and enthusiasm for working hard and taking pride in maintaining our data centres’ performance, uptime and security. I know I can trust my team and they know they can trust me.
What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?
Connectivity is everything right now. Edge Computing and modern, resource-intensive applications demand far more bandwidth than most organisations were deploying even five years ago. At Six Degrees we deliver SD-WAN services to connect people securely and efficiently; as our Head of Colo it is incumbent upon me to ensure our data centre facilities keep pace with our broader capabilities.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I’m a real family man. Sometimes I wonder if I ever truly unwind, but after a busy week of work there’s nothing like spending quality time with my family. My son and I enjoy taking his foot-powered scooter to the local skate park; I probably look like a bit of a plonker when I take a turn on it, but I love it all the same.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
5G is a major investment area for the data centre industry, as data centres have a key role to play in achieving the infrastructure robustness the new technology will necessitate. Six Degrees recently worked with a client that is building 5G networks, using multiple Edge/aggregation data centres in each metropolitan region to aggregate the data from the 5G network in a resilient way. As 5G rolls out across the UK, I expect more organisations to invest in regional data centres in order to leverage its capabilities.
What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role?
Operating in Birmingham offers us great transport links, high bandwidth connectivity and access to top talent when it comes to recruiting new staff. Honestly I don’t believe there are any region-specific challenges we face – I feel very lucky to run data centre facilities in the West Midlands.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
At Six Degrees, we have merged our connectivity and colocation businesses within a unified network infrastructure practice. I think this makes a lot of sense – connectivity and colocation are intrinsically linked and expanding my role into connectivity has given me a great opportunity to consolidate and align our data centre facilities even more with the connectivity requirements the latest transformational technologies carry.
Technologies I’ve spoken about like 5G, SD-WAN and Edge Computing are here to stay – I expect them to become common parlance over the next 12 months, so pursuing a unified approach across connectivity and colocation makes sense for Six Degrees and for the clients we support.