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Rackspace: StockRoom London goes digital

StockRoom London has archived film, tapes and hard drives for broadcasters, post houses and production companies. Neal Romanek talks with company director Peter Godden about its new DataRoom, which opens new possibilities of data storage and digital infrastructure to clients.

Cannon House is a building not even an aerial bombardment could flatten. Located in the Royal Arsenal area of Woolwich, in London, the StockRoom London has housed its archive services there since 2011 after expanding from its south London location in the Old Kent Road. Once a cannon factory and munition storage for Queen Victoria’s navies, with brick walls four feet thick, the building was bombed during World War II, and although the back of it was blown out, the bulk of the structure remained. The building was fully restored and put back into service, serving as secure archiving and book storage for the British Library prior to the StockRoom’s arrival.

StockRoom London archives film, tape, documents, hard drives, and even props and equipment, for productions, film, tv and commercial production companies from around Britain. Their clients have included Handmade Films, Halo Post and the British University Film and Video Council. They also handle storage for major ad agencies like Ogilvy and TBWA and institutions like the Royal Opera House and BAFTA.

Movement to the Woolwich location was a natural evolution. As their clients’ storage requirements expanded, a bigger location became imperative. With Soho real estate among some of the most expensive in London, and StockRoom’s business demanding a surplus of physical space, Woolwich came into focus as a viable, high secure, alternative.

Safe and secure storage is only one half of any archiving system, the other is easy and immediate access. StockRoom’s storage is far from a footage graveyard. The company’s vans make deliveries in and out of London, and to other facilities around the country, all day, every day.

Despite the Woolwich location’s vast space – the interior of the location recalls the last shot from Raiders Of The Lost Ark – industry demand has allowed the StockRoom to expand again, this time into the digital realm.

DataRoom is StockRoom London’s next offering. The brainchild of company director Peter Godden (pictured), the DataRoom will offer data storage and server space to clients for a variety of uses. “When we moved into Cannon House, we had the space to try other ventures,” says Godden, “The StockRoom had been taking on more data storage. Instead of film cans and tapes, we were getting more drives coming in to put on the shelves. So we foresaw quite a few years back that we were going to have more and more data and we had to address that.”

StockRoom had considered starting a data centre when they were still fully housed at the Old Kent Road, but despite its London location, there weren’t any suitable networks in the area from which the company could easily access a fibre connection.

The DataRoom at Woolwich is connected to Telehouse West by a dark fibre network installed by telecoms company Geo Networks through the London sewer network and out to the world via Level 3. There are currently 12 fibre pairs going into the building, with each fibre pair capable of carrying 80 10GB connections.

Godden sees the StockRoom’s DataRoom offering as being the digital equivalent of renting out factory floor space to clients, offering rack space, and 120,000sqft of brick-and-mortar space, for companies who want to install their own IT infrastructure. Users could use DataRoom’s servers or install their own computing, editing, ingest and VFX rendering equipment onsite. Managing the network themselves will allow the company more freedom to configure the DataRoom according to client requirements.

The DataRoom is an especially attractive proposition for companies looking to digitise content. “They have the space in the building to house their archives, but they also have the connectivity, so that they can digitise the content and have it sent back to their main location over a network. Under one roof a company can have archives, ingest and networking capabilities.”

Serving the post production industry, broadcasters, and archive owners, the DataRoom can offer the necessary power, space and connectivity to a company that doesn’t need to house its staff and kit in locations, like Soho, where space is at a premium.

“The technology now is such that you can remotely locate a lot of the equipment you are using,” says Godden, “Why have it on prime real estate, when it could be co-located on cheaper real estate? And then the prime real estate that you release at your head office or your production facility can be reutilised to become revenue-generating space. If companies are looking to expand, they don’t necessarily need to move offices. They can look at what equipment they’ve got currently in their office and see if that can be co-located at places like the DataRoom.”

Godden has already been negotiating with potential clients for use of the DataRoom. “We can help companies co-locate operations. It’s not just rackspace – a company can put a whole remote operation or machine room in. Or if companies want to build their own cloud platform and run that cloud platform themselves they can do that in our space. They can build their own private cloud structures, rather than going out to a public cloud, which a lot of clients have concern about. Disaster recovery is also an area of increasing importance to businesses in the media sector.”

By Neal Romanek