Powerful dividend for £2 million Onyx move

Further growth: Neil Stephenson, chief executive of Onyx Group, left, with the then chief executive of Digital Region, David Carr at the time when Onyx launched its new data centre.
Further growth: Neil Stephenson, chief executive of Onyx Group, left, with the then chief executive of Digital Region, David Carr at the time when Onyx launched its new data centre.
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A £2 million investment in South Yorkshire is paying dividends for data centre operator Onyx.

Chief executive Neil Stephenson says the centre Onyx opened at Manvers last year has become the company’s fastest growing business continuity centre yet.

News of its success comes on the eve of Business Continuity Awareness Week.

“We spent a big chunk of last year fitting out the centre and it has become our fastest growing business continuity centre ever,” says Mr Stephenson.

“We have never opened a centre and seen it taken up so quickly. We knew that ultimately it would do well, it was just a question of when and it happened almost immediately.

“It shows how strong the market is around here.”

Mr Stephenson puts the success of the centre down to a number of factors.

Firstly, Yorkshire boasts the second biggest digital economy outside London and the Sheffield city region plays a significant part in that achievement.

The existing power infrastructure – a legacy from the traditional heavy industries – is an important factor when it comes to attracting digital businesses.

“The region has an abundance of power and a really good grid, which is why tech businesses are coming here. It’s very accessible and the issue for other parts of the country is that it isn’t easy to upgrade the power network or get more,” he says.

“There is a prevalence of tech businesses – be it producing games, iPhone apps or business software developers and so on – and all those people need what we do.”

The Digital Region high speed broadband network, which Onyx uses, is another significant factor in the infrastructure equation, says Mr Stephenson and the company has also benefitted because prior to its arrival, the nearest major business continuity centres were in Nottingham and Derby.

“The big thing for us is geography. Our business is national, but our Business Continuity service is very local,” says Mr Stephenson.

Business Continuity Centres like Onyx’s are designed to allow companies to move straight in and start operating. That means that they have the desks and chairs, hardware, software and network links that allow a business to keep operating seamlessly. They also have to be close enough for staff to travel to them.

What’s more, says Mr Stephenson, on more than one occasion, people using or visiting Onxy’s centres have remarked that they’re better than their own offices.

Neil Stephenson is anticipating further growth for Onyx’s Manvers centre. “We have space for a further 250 seats upstairs, so we could double our capacity,” he said.