08 Dec 2021

Collaboration is key

Recognition for hard work is one of the greatest rewards we can receive. No matter what profession, job title, or career experience we have, we all want to be acknowledged for the work we do and the success we achieve.

Here at Kao Data we were delighted to be short-listed for “Operations Team of the Year” at the DCD Awards tonight - the industry's central awards ceremony. The nomination showcases Kao Data's work in assisting NVIDIA to deploy Cambridge-1, the UK's most powerful supercomputer, in just 20 weeks, and in the midst of a global pandemic.

Cambridge-1 is a pioneering HPC installation that provides the opportunity to accelerate UK healthcare research using 400 petaflops of AI power. Founding partners on the Cambridge-1 project include AstraZeneca, GSK, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London and Oxford Nanopore. Initial projects undertaken by these partners on Cambridge-1 include developing a deeper understanding of dementia, cancer, and other serious diseases, as well as accelerating drug discovery and genome sequencing.

In October 2020, NVIDIA contacted us regarding the Cambridge-1 project. One of the major challenges of the project was how deployment and installation of such an advanced, state-of-the-art supercomputer, together with the necessary storage, networking and high-density cooling requirement, could be managed and coordinated virtually from NVIDIA’s headquarters in California.

This remote approach was needed because at the time Cambridge-1 was first announced, Kao Data was already more than half a year into implementing strict operational measures to safeguard the company's data centres against the spread of Covid-19. Alongside this, the world was coping with the knock-on impact on logistics and delays in international shipments. It was an almost impossible environment within which to deploy a new, industry leading supercomputer - so how was the impossible made possible?

World-class collaboration between both organisations - demonstrated by a positive, agile “can-do” attitude - is at the heart of what made this project successful.

Teams at NVIDIA and Kao Data worked hand-in-hand, problem solved in real-time and utilised new, innovative technologies and approaches. The overriding combined team attributes were the highest level of technical and engineering understanding across both groups, resulting in a holistic solution from the processor to the facility.

NVIDIA’s modular approach to supercomputing, using their DGX SuperPOD architecture, helped the remote installation with many components pre-packaged and constructed in the United States, and shipped to the Kao Data facility for seamless installation. At the same time, Kao Data’s unique OCP-Ready facility also played a significant role, allowing pre-configured and constructed, industrial grade 52U racks to be rolled into the data centre easily, and installed in rapid time. Together, these attributes enabled a 400-petaflop supercomputer to be built in an almost ‘LEGO block’ fashion, supporting the 20-week deployment cycle to deliver the UK’s most powerful supercomputer, dedicated to life-saving research.

The Cambridge-1 project has established a new benchmark for supercomputing performance and for the high-performance data centres that house them. Perhaps most importantly, Cambridge-1 is becoming a premier resource in the field of healthcare research. The life-saving and life-changing research being conducted is redefining mission-critical compute.

It is an honour for our organisation to collaborate with NVIDIA on such an important project and we look forward to the DCD Awards tonight. Irrespective of whether we are lucky enough to be awarded the title of “Operations Team of the Year” it's fantastic to be part of the community, to be recognised for our whole team's work, and to hopefully catch-up with so many of our industry colleagues.

Team Kao Data - keep those fingers crossed!

Faisal Akram

Faisal Akram is responsible for Business Development at Kao Data and works closely with the wider sales and marketing team in recruiting new logos into the data centre. He has a keen focus in the life science, Pharma and AI sectors and has been involved in over 75MW of IT-related projects across EMEA



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