30 Nov 2023

Commissioning KLON-02 - An Example of World-Class Collaboration

Data centre development projects are inherently complex, with their need to balance a wide range of objectives on behalf of sophisticated end users, in an evolving and competitive environment, engaging with specialist technologies and seeking to continually improve the speed, efficiency and quality of our end product. It is a sector where we believe in the rigorous application of project management methodologies to manage risk and to strategically and continually balance outcomes in favour of our investors and our customers.

My role as a Senior Delivery Manager is to lead a team of professional engineering and management consultants to develop the clearest possible expression of our engineering requirements, align this with our wider delivery aspirations, and then oversee the engagement of contractors through a procurement process which delivers value and certainty to the business.

The biggest impact on project success is made at these pre-contract stages of the delivery - but once a capital project such as the construction of a new build facility or the fit out of an existing fallow area to deliver additional technical suites has been contracted for, as delivery managers we remain active on projects, supporting and assuring that the contractor and consultant teams deliver on the outcomes that have been contracted for, or making corrections or changes during the course of construction to ensure that the project delivers on the investment case that we have overseen the development of.

A key objective for project sponsors such as ourselves is the application of our construction delivery experience to capture issues as early as possible in the 'problem cycle' and to direct resources ensuring that strategic direction and decisions are made so that our proficient contractor and consultant teams are enabled to navigate the issues that naturally arise during complex projects.

Collaboration is the real hallmark of our work at Kao Data, our coordination on this development has demonstrated some of the best communication and positive team working practices I have seen in my career of project management. I say this with conviction.

It is safe to say that this mission-critical sector attracts some of the finest engineering and contracting minds in the world. Our teams continually solve complex problems, whilst balancing time and cost as well as a host of other demands placed upon us by our stakeholders. The excellence of our colleagues and vendors makes this sector an exciting one, with abundant opportunities for professional growth and fulfilment. Perhaps one of the most gratifying aspects of our work, is that we have in recent years seen an increase in the number of apprentices progressing through many of the professions associated with our sector. One of the most rewarding aspects of day-to-day activities is supporting apprentices with superb learning opportunities. Many of us are former apprentices - and I would say with some certainty that young construction and design professionals who find themselves working in our sector are securing experiences and exposure to standards of work that will remain with them throughout their careers.

Turning to the recent KLON-02 development which we officially announced earlier this week, this project of course repeats so much of Kao Data's award-winning design, but it also factors incremental changes and innovations that our engineering teams, capably led by our engineering sponsor, have developed in order to refine our product and campus-wide engineering strategy.

KLON-02 is the second building to be constructed at our Harlow campus with scope for the development of several more. Outwardly the buildings appear similar, but beneath the surface, we are continuously looking to push the boundaries of what is achievable for a wholesale colocation operator. Our teams are continuously striving to become ever more customer-centric in their outcomes.

Following significant growth across our customer portfolio, which includes organisations working within AI, financial services, cloud, and life sciences, KLON-02 now provides a further 3,400m2 of high-density, scalable, technical space to its data centre portfolio, with room for up-to 1800 racks of GPU-powered IT equipment (ITE) across four Technology Suites. This demonstrates Kao Data’s commitment to providing not only immediate solutions but also future-proofing the space, ensuring scalability, high-density capabilities, and adaptability for emerging technologies and our proactive desire to meet the soaring demand for cutting-edge technologies like AI and GPU-powered computing.

It would be remiss of me not to mention other external pressures we have faced - particularly, shifting global supply patterns. Following on immediately after the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, war broke out in Ukraine which caused much uncertainty across the industry.

Ultimately, our contractor successfully navigated these, and Kao Data was insulated from these issues. However, it was clearly an additional factor in the delivery, and it gave pause when developing our contracting strategies, risk profiles and contracting incentives. Our Contractor's approach to conducting their work package procurement as early as possible. I would not say this is a unique approach, but their discipline and rigorous execution of this approach is worthy of remark. In this mission-critical sector, where timeliness of delivery is perhaps the defining objective, perseverance is key!

One of the greatest successes of the KLON-02 project was the team of people that made it come together. I have already reflected on this, but it is true to say that development projects coalesce around the intent, professionalism, skills and passions of the people who work on them. It is a testament to the quality of the team that this project was delivered in accordance with our Kao Data's exacting expectations. Clearly, we must always have one eye on the next thing, what do we enhance next? What does the global landscape demand of us next? How do we continually exceed our customer's expectations? But whatever is asked of us, I am certain Kao Data will deliver it.

René Sajan

Rene is Kao Data's Senior Delivery Manager and a central figure in the deployment of our data centres. With multiple years of experience within the industry, Rene helps guide Kao Data's team to deliver world class infrastructure.


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