Reporting of carbon emissions is becoming an issue – and soon

New legislation will shortly be putting pressure on many organisations to reduce their carbon footprint.  This applies to small and medium-sized companies too, if they are suppliers to either public-sector organisations, or corporates that fall within the scope of the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment requirements (annual energy expenditure of more than £500,000, or listed on the LSE main exchange).

But before any organisation can start to think about reporting on their carbon footprint, they must of course measure it – what is the starting point?  This will almost certainly involve the need for specialist skills and tools – hence the importance of the partnership between Safe4 and Co2conut.  Safe4 can assist with bringing down carbon emissions by reducing dependence on paper and hard-copy information deliveries; Co2conut can provide expert guidance, and access to tools that will help with the accurate measurement of current emissions.

How does this issue affect your business?  We would be glad to hear from anyone who has a view on this issue – please post your blog entry below.

Safe4 Moves All Customer Data to the UK

Moving to the UK

You will have seen the announcement by Ben that we have moved the hosting of the Safe4 system from servers based in the US to the UK, where the majority of our current customers are based.

This means that all your files and data are now stored in the UK. This can, in most cases, make it much easier for you to comply with Data Protection requirements.


Like a lot of internet services, Safe4 is run in the “cloud”, which provides you as customers with fast connectivity and gives us, as a service provider, flexibility, resilience and much easier growth without the headaches of buying, installing and maintaining a lot of hardware.

When we started Safe4, almost 2 years ago, we considered a number of options when we selected our cloud provider including capability and location in the decision. We eventually selected Rackspace, despite at the time their not having a UK offering on the basis of their very comprehensive service, fast connectivity, security and their outstanding support. We knew in making this decision that Rackspace were developing a UK based service and that we would move when the need arose.

The “need” became much more important during 2011 as we grew and new customers have asked, increasingly, for their data to be based in the UK. So we have taken advantage of the availability of cloud infrastructure in the UK to “move house.”

A lot of planning is needed in order to achieve the move with as little disruption to our customers as possible. In the end the site was unavailable for a little less than 25 minutes overnight one day last week – the real test is whether you actually noticed?

Making the move

It is an honour that you trust us with your business data, and it is something we take very seriously indeed – it is not acceptable for us if there is any risk of missing data!

Therefore one of the key challenges we had to solve was how we moved all of the files that have been uploaded to the system and know beyond any doubt that every file had transferred successfully to its new home. It was therefore not enough to simply “copy” the files – the real challenge was to establish whether we had successfully moved ALL of the files that the system stores.

In the end the only way we could satisfy ourselves that the move of the files was successful was to write a dedicated tool that moved the files one at a time, and then validated that the file had been successfully moved. The final run of the tool took over 3 days to move every file. The tool was very successful making it easy for us to see the progress of the move and to satisfy ourselves that the move was successful.

Designing in scale

We took advantage of the planned move to redesign how we implement the infrastructure that runs the system, to allow us to grow more easily in the future and to build in more resilience into the service. We have also changed some of the configuration of the application servers to further improve the security of your information.

We believe that our new infrastructure is better placed to grow as the needs of our customers increase and the Safe4 business continues to grow at the rate it has over the last year.

What’s next?

We have some major development activity planned for this year, beginning with an update to the service that will provide Safe4 with the ability to track multiple versions of the files on the system.  Look out for this update in the next couple of weeks.