Learn what Nitrous Networks is about and strives for.
Nitrous Networks was created in July of 2010 by Jordan Bryant. With a very generous start up loan injected into the company by Jordan’s father, Jordan began the journey of what Nitrous Networks is today! Providing game, voice and web services to thousands of customers located all around the globe. Striving to deliver a more affordable approach to game servers, that's both reliable and feature rich!
Initially in 2010, Nitrous Networks offered a wide array of services including game servers, dedicated servers, web hosting, virtual private servers, and also voice servers. We had started out buying a job lot of hardware recently decommissioned from a London based hosting provider for a very low price. And proceeded to collocate it within a data centre located in Cheltenham. But it wasn’t without its faults, like most hardware produced between 2008 & 2010, but still, Jordan ploughed through any issues and soon was hosting for over 100 customers within a couple of months of operating.
Jordan quickly found that offering such a wide spectrum of services was putting a considerable strain on both finances, and himself and needed to scale back to core services which had the most demand and in which capital expenditure was quickly returned in order to further the growth of the business.
Enter Harry Beasant! Harry joined the Nitrous Networks family in December 2010 with a 10% stake in the company. Harry injected much needed additional capital to keep the business ticking over. Capital injected by Harry was to be used to scale the form factor of our servers from 2U down to 1U systems in order to maximize the amount of servers we could have within our current rack.
However, Jordan’s prior realisation had come a little too late and in January of 2011 Nitrous Networks was faced with a major hurdle, bandwidth costs. At £12/Mbps per month and a 100Mbps bandwidth overage bill totalling £1200. Which might not sound like a lot of bandwidth now, but back then this was easily what 1Gbps is now. At this point we had to pull out of the data centre we were housing servers within and re-evaluate our options.
During this transitional period we sought out aid from VeloxServ. Scoring a deal with them for few dedicated servers that we were able to use to carry over our game server customers from previously collocated servers whilst a new business plan was drawn up, mapping out Nitrous’ future.
In March / April of 2011 Nitrous Networks approached a data centre operator located in Sheffield, which operated a data centre by the name of simply “Sheffield Data Centre”. Quickly we negotiated a new colocation agreement which would allow us to scale up server, by server with the exact power / bandwidth requirement we needed.
After this was done. We initially shipped 2x Dell Poweredge 1950 III servers up to them which we would use to kick start our Minecraft hosting offering, and continue our hosting of games we had previously offered in 2010. At this point we had chosen to use the control panel ServerGears. ServerGears was a light weight, powerful control panel that offered easy management from the customer perspective.
All was going well! Our services were a big hit within the Minecraft community especially, and we had expanded our initial 2 servers, to 3 within 5 weeks. It’s at this point in which a friend of Jordan’s, who had previously helped tremendously in the development of Nitrous’ first website, approached him with the proposal of merging his company, Absolute Hosting, into Nitrous’ due to personal commitments which saw him no longer able to maintain and dedicate as much time towards Absolute Hosting as he had hoped. As part of this merger we saw the addition of Perri to our team. And the addition of roughly 50 customers!
Along came a new site overhaul! Nitrous Networks launched its 2nd site design in June of 2011, based around a paid template at the time from themeforest. It served its purpose, but not for very long. To date this site design has been the only one that was purchased from a template site. And either not developed in house or by a professional web designer or agency.
Once again in June of 2011 we required further capacity to take on additional users. It is then that we started to custom build our servers again. This time we started offering SSD based storage for game servers. With the price of SSD based storage being over £1/GB at this time it was considerably more for us to purchase this hardware, but we did, and it proved to be an excellent decision for us. It was also at this point that we started using the TCAdmin (version 1) control panel. The migration from ServerGears to TCAdmin was sped up considerably weeks later as ServerGears were ceasing development and were closing down.
With our shiny new SSD based servers, and fancy new control panel we continued expanding month to month, and going from strength to strength, until we hit another wall, DDoS attacks.
With online gaming communities expanding left and right it was only a matter of time before this would happen, and it did. We saw a rapid increase in customers receiving attacks, so much so that it would cause extreme issues for the whole data centre, and all customers within it. Back in 2011, it was the norm for most networks to have 100Mbps switch ports to servers, and 1GbE edge uplinks to carriers. So with what was considered “massive attacks” back in 2011 with servers receiving close to 1Gbps, or just over this in malicious traffic it would easily cause problems for not only the target of the attack, not only the whole rack the server was housed within, but the whole network the data centre operated on.
Due to this becoming a common occurrence primarily to Garry’s Mod servers at the time. The data centre operator was left with no choice but to give us notice to vacate and find a new location to house our equipment within. It’s at this point we then turned to VeloxServ in July of 2011, to negotiate a new colocation agreement. They had providers that were better equipped to handle the attacks our customers were receiving, even if it was simply null routing an IP temporarily to stop it affecting other customers both within our rack, and on the network in general.
In September 2011 Nitrous Networks was registered as a Limited company within England & Wales. Unfortunately Perri had left Nitrous at this point.
Once again, all was going well and we were now up to 15/16 server nodes by Christmas time! Which is where we hit another problem with our control panel database, which resulted in a complete rebuild which took close to 3 days to complete. What seemed like a near on impossible task was soon tackled with perseverance, and raw determination.
Now with 2011 in our rear view mirror, we hit 2012 which was a groundbreaking year for us! We had fully migrated to using TCAdmin as our game control panel of choice. We had started upgrading our hardware, phased out the older Dell Poweredge servers & Core 2 Quad servers and had started using Intel’s new Sandybridge Core i7, and E3 series processors!
Fairly early on in the year we contacted a web designer by the name of Owen Melbourne. He created what was Nitrous Networks 3rd website design and also introduced the rocket into our logo which followed on all future logo variations, and sites from 2012 to now.
Things started snowballing even more and by June of 2012 we were now hosting over 800 game servers. This then escalated further to us hosting over 1000 game servers under a month later! It was around this point that Jordan ceased all other commitments and pursued Nitrous full time.
In 2012 we also partnered with Buycraft, originally offering “keys” to our customers on request that would entitle the user to free premium for as long as they had the server with us. This system then changed to what is now the 30 day free premium trial. We also partnered with Enjin to offer our customers 45 days free of their advanced plan.
Now at around September 2012 we started planning what would now be known as NiTROPanel, our in house, Minecraft orientated control panel. After a couple of weeks of initial planning. Development of NiTROPanel started! The control panel was heavily built around user input in order to build a powerful control panel suited for the end user. And we’re proud to say that it’s been a huge success!
By October 2012 NiTROPanel was developed enough to be used in production! At this point we started housing servers at a data centre in Wolverhampton too, and we were up to ~50 server nodes at this point. By the end of December 2012 we were at around 70-75 server nodes, and additional features were being added to NiTROPanel on a regular basis, we had also done a complete overhaul of the original UI.
Now entering 2013 we hit the ground running with more NiTROPanel features! Due to problems with DDoS attacks in Wolverhampton towards the end of 2012 we spent the first week in January transporting servers from Wolverhampton to Cheltenham.
Within January 2013, we also merged customers from LVN Host over into Nitrous. As part of this merger we also welcomed Mikkel to Nitrous for several months before he moved on.
In 2013 we added a new location, Quebec, Canada for Minecraft servers.
We also saw the addition of Robert Thornback to our support team in July of 2013.
Within July we changed our registered company name to Hydra Communications Ltd, and kept Nitrous Networks as a trading name under this company.
Unfortunately DDoS attacks in 2013, were once again on the rise in both frequency, and the total size of the attack which caused a few issues from time to time, until October in which a very large 75Gbps attack targeting one of our customers resulting in our entire subnet being null routed for close to 24 hours in which GTT set a rate limit of 4Gbps for our subnet to stop it affecting our providers network. Because of this we also had to suspend orders on games such as Garry’s Mod as they were most prone to frequent attacks.
But sadly this caused a lot of problems for all customers when an attack above 4Gbps came in, and also made us single homed to “The internet”... Because of this we were forced to re-evaluate the colocation model for game servers. This resulted in us deciding to move all our UK servers to a central EU location with Hetzner, more about this very shortly. That’s if you continue reading, which at this point deserves a round of applause!
In between the above and the migration of now 100+ server nodes to Hetzner, there was Minecon 2013 in Florida! Harry, and a close friend of the company Sam attended Minecon in Florida along with the guys behind Buycraft – Lee, Harry and Kyle. Whilst we didn’t meet many customers as we were a much focused UK / EU provider in 2013 it was still good to attend and see some of things being showcased and meet up with others within the Minecraft community.
Now continuing from the above with the move to Hetzner in November 2013. It’s no easy task to migrate over 100+ server nodes from one location to another. That being said we managed to successfully move 15-20 server nodes of customers per day! And by the following week all users had been migrated over successfully. We then collected all our servers, and network equipment from the data centre in Cheltenham, sold off some slightly older hardware we weren’t interested in keeping, and then put the rest in storage. Once transitioned we also upgraded to using TCAdmin 2 for Garry’s Mod, CS:GO, CSS, TF2 etc, and started taking orders, once again for Garry’s Mod now that we knew the previous attacks wouldn’t affect all servers.
Later in November, Facepunch Studios released its game, Rust as an “early access” title, and Facepunch were looking for a few select server providers to host the game and report back to them with any issues being encountered. We were thrilled to be accepted as one of the first few providers with access to the server files. At this point we only had servers available in Germany and Canada.
In October / November, we had appointed NEEN Media to design & produce our new website. The new website was ready to go by the end of the first week in December 2013 and gave our site a much needed uplift. As part of this they had also re-designed our logo to the one you now see on our website today!
By the end of 2013, a year on from first launching NiTROPanel we had added many new features! To name a few...
- A backup manager enabling users to easily backup, restore and download backups of their server
- A quick player manager tool which listed all players connected to the server, along with the head of their player skin with a few quick tools such as op, kick, ban
- MySQL database creation from within the panel, with phpMyAdmin
- Custom IP / hostname creation using .nn.pe / .nitrous.it
- Server status widget for websites
- Added many additional mod packs
- Scheduled tasks
- Map installer
- Dedicated server manager, allowing users to connect up a dedicated server and create and manage multiple servers with ease.
- Sub users
2013 also saw us start providing servers for Starmade and Starbound.
Into 2014! We had announced plans to setup offices, and a small data centre site in Bristol which would allow us to house up to 25 rack's worth of servers.
We had also lowered the prices of our Minecraft server tiers by around £1-2/GB per month, and made semi-annually and annual pricing much better than previously!
By March 2014 we had signed a deal on the property, appointed an initial fibre carrier, and also placed the order for a new power supply to be installed along with orders for various other equipment such as racks, air conditioning / climate control, flooring, UPS units, power switchgear and more. Over the coming weeks construction was well underway and by May 2014 everything but the fibre backhaul link to Telehouse in London was complete.
In June we ran a social media promotion which allowed people to get free additional allocated RAM for their Minecraft servers by simply tweeting / sharing a short post on social media sites.
By late June our fibre from our new Bristol data centre to Telehouse in London was operational and we began getting servers configured and setup ready for launch in 1-2 weeks’ time!
End of June into July we began migrating previous UK servers from Hetzner in Germany, to our new Bristol hosting site. We also kept the location in Germany operational for people that wanted to have their server located there, as it offered better latency to users in Eastern Europe.
2014 also saw us open a new location in Kansas City, smack bang in the middle of the country.
A new feature was added to NiTROPanel which allowed for quick & easy migration by the user of their Minecraft server to any of our locations we had available. At the time it was Bristol (UK), Falkenstein (DE), And Kanas City (MO, US).
Into August 2014 we had launched the latest NiTROPanel UI / dashboard! And we had also introduced offering dedicated servers from our Bristol site at a very attractive price point. The user could also choose to have it used on one of our game control panels to allow for easy server creation and management with dedicated system resources.
Over the course of a few months we had a couple of issues with some very large DDoS attacks towards some customers. In order to better protect our UK network, in November 2014 we partnered with Voxility. This enabled us to provide their enterprise DDoS protection to all our customers for absolutely nothing! We have a dark fibre service between them and us at Telehouse North in London, plugged directly into the Juniper MX480 at our edge.
Heading into 2015 after a superb year in 2014, we organised a collective deal between ourselves and Creeper Host after the announcement of the closure of Acixs Hosting to take on and honour any servers that were active with Acixs hosting for no financial return. We took on close to 250 additional servers that were migrated from the remnants of Acixs Hosting who were provided hosting for free, until what would have been the end of their billing cycle with Acixs.
Moving into February we had organised a similar deal with Astral Game Servers in which we took on another 300-400 active customers, honouring existing agreements from the previous provider.
Into April 2015 we said goodbye to Robert Thornback who went on to start a career as a chef. If you’re ever in Southend on Sea pop into a grill & smokehouse called Mangetout and you might be lucky enough to meet him!
By summer 2015, we had launched another new website design following a very clean, and simplistic design. With a new support centre which features loads of new articles to help manage your server and resolve problems quickly with more being added monthly.
We also took on some new employees! It was with great pleasure we welcomed Jacob Stephenson, Curtis Adams and Joe Stephenson to the team.
In July 2015 we were approved as a Teamspeak 3 hosting provider! And initially started offering TS3 servers in Bristol (UK), Falkenstein (DE), Roubaix (FR) and Quebec (CA).
Within July, both Harry and Jordan attended Minecon at the Excel Centre in London once again accompanied by the Buycraft team.
2015 was a big year for offering new titles. We introduced hosting for 7 Days to Die, Reign of Kings, Insurgency, ARK:SE, Killing Floor 2, and Hurtworld!
Towards the end of 2015 new network improvements were being designed and implemented. As well as initial discussions on future plans for new locations into 2016.
So far 2016 has included the following...
- New game titles being added to our platform
- We won an award in the 2016 Telecom Awards! (Best European Game Server Hosting Network: Nitrous Most Innovative anti-DDoS Server Provider – UK)
- Opening a new London location utilizing brand new v5 series E3 and v3 / v4 series E5 CPU’s
- Network upgrades including, new upstream carriers (Now Voxility, NTT, GTT, Telia, Cogent, TATA and HE), diverse connectivity in our UK locations with core routing sites at Telehouse North and Telecity Harbour Exchange 8/9
- Network expansion into Amsterdam coming later this year Q3/Q4 2016!
- Additional locations for both game and voice servers (Phoenix, Atlanta, Ashburn and Buffalo)
- A brand new website design!
- Planning work commencing on a new NiTROPanel overhaul