Significant investment puts clients at the heart of the connected world
"The whole of the global internet is in that box", says Jonathan Edge, indicating a router about the size of a small desk-top printer: "If it is not in there - it doesn't exist".
The Operations Director of IC - formerly known as Internet Central - is standing in the company's secure glass-ceilinged datacentre on Keele Science Park surrounded by racks of servers and the winking lights, soft hum and cabling that indicate fail-safe technology.
The centre cocoons the servers of client companies in a high-tech 'safety net' environment, fed by multiple sources of power, air conditioning and access to the internet. This belt-and-braces approach to the essential needs of electronic hardware provides companies with bullet-proof, 'always on' reliability.
It's impressive - not least because it is just one example of the largest growth programme ever undertaken in the company's history.
Downstairs, an induction for newcomers to the staff is taking place in a conference room dominated by enormous plasma screens showing live Google Earth simulations of the globe from outer space. One half-expects to see a space-suited Matthew McConaughey drifting weightlessly across the desk.
But although this may sound like a scene fromInterstellar, Mark Simcoe the technical director and founder of the business internet and telephony specialists, is adamant that the company's future is rooted firmly in North Staffordshire soil.
"Yes, it's good for our team to know that we have clients in USA, China, India, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Dubai, Australia and South Africa. But the vast majority of our customers are highly-competitive, switched-on businesses located within a 40-mile radius of Stoke.
"What all our clients have in common is that they now have access to state-of-the-art connectivity."
He's not kidding. The datacentre runs IPv6 - the latest version of the internet protocol communications system which basically provides access to all the world's internet addresses. In Asia and elsewhere, often cited as global leaders in internet technology, they are still using IPv4…way behind the sophistication of the North Staffordshire set-up.
IC recently moved its datacentre out of Manchester and 'brought it home' to Keele into a highly-resilient purpose-built installation - because Manchester just wasn't resilient enough.
This is the beating heart of IC where the company has its own servers and the servers of client companies who rent rack space from them. With this latest investment, IC has more than doubled the capacity of its datacentre.
Some of the servers have Ethernet connections to client company offices, providing secure and resilient access to the internet 24/7 at speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second.
"If you want to be sure of having your website services permanently available on the internet, bring it here", said Jonathan.
During 2014, IC acquired more floor space in its home at The Innovation Centre on Keele Science Park. It was a bold move for an organisation that was one of the UK's first Internet Service Providers, celebrating its 20th birthday in 2015.
The logistics of relocating a fifth of a century's investment in hardware, software, cabling, systems and services required meticulous planning - particularly as normal customer service had to be maintained throughout.
The physical move was critical to implementing IC's growth plan and took weeks to complete. Mark is coy about the size of the financial investment involved but it is clear to anyone visiting the new offices that it has been substantial; and it has given the company a stunning new canvas on which to create a wide range of connectivity solutions for businesses of every size.
The relocation not only gave its teams more room to breathe in their daily tasks of providing broadband, Ethernet, data storage, online security, hosting, telecoms and VOIP services, it also enabled the company to create the ultimate answer to corporate disaster - the Workplace Recovery Suite.
"We have 30 desks and everything a company would need to camp for a few weeks", says Jonathan: "If a company has lost its offices, its PCs, its internet and email services, in a fire for example, this will keep them in business.
"Of course, we back-up our clients' data so if their physical machines and hard disks have been destroyed we can recreate those machines as virtual from the back-ups. And if they have our phone systems we can have all their numbers working from here in the wink of an eye".
Mark points out that the suite acts like insurance and, like an insurance policy, the service can be tailored to suit individual customers.
"They can specify how many seats they want to reserve in here and design the service flexibly to suit their operation. And unlike some claims which can take months to settle, they can be in here within just four hours of letting us know that they need to be".
For those financial and legal services which are required to have business continuity plans in case disaster strikes, the Workplace Recovery Suite offers tailored-to-fit, turn-key, instant access peace of mind…just what you need when fate has ridden roughshod over your operation.
Along with the bigger footprint, space-age conference rooms, Workplace Recovery Suite, leading-edge systems and a bullet-proof data centre, IC has also increased its staffing by 25% since the summer to help implement the growth programme.
An impressive start to its 20th birthday celebrations!