29 Mar 2023

New Fiscal Year – New Horizons for Kao Data

With a new fiscal year upon us at Kao Data, it is always a good time to reflect on our successes over the last 12 months and look forward to the year ahead. Yesterday I enjoyed chairing our team kick-off meeting in London and it was fantastic to have our team together to re-cap on our achievements and look forward to new challenges.

It’s hard to believe that only a year ago we announced two significant expansions to our data centre operations - Northolt (KLON-05) and Slough (KLON-06). Our facility in Slough was the first expansion beyond our Harlow campus making us a ‘multi-site operator’ and has offered new and existing customers the opportunity to quickly scale their colocation footprints with greater diversity and resilience in the highly sought-after West London Availability Zone. It has been a fantastic development for the business and moving from managing one site to many has been a terrific learning and development curve which I am glad to say our team have excelled at.

The move to west London not only gave us the opportunity to look after an exciting, industry leading financial services client, but we’ve also been building out additional capacity that will create a multi-megawatt, energy efficient home for another world class customer who is joining the Kao Data family.

Back in Essex, momentum at our Harlow campus is tremendous and we’re starting to see those initial visions for the campus coming into sight. Work has been underway for a second phase of expansion, and KLON-02 will be operational in early September. The new 8.8MW (which can stretch to 10MW) facility will carry on many of the design-wins from KLON-01 and will continue to offer the highest sustainability credentials. The expansion of our Harlow campus is not only a strategic milestone in Kao Data’s evolution but it also contributes to the development of London’s eastern perimeter as a growing data centre hub.

A fantastic team: Our 'topping-out' ceremony at KLON-02 with our partners, JCA Engineering.

While I love big construction projects, the thing I am most excited about with KLON-02 becoming operational is the fact that we can offer something for everyone. Earlier in March, we hosted the UK’s ‘Quantum Data Centre of the Future’ project led by ORCA Computing at our Harlow campus. As everyone knows, we are already home to some of the UK’s most advanced, high performance computing systems, including NVIDIA’s Cambridge-1 supercomputer, so we were pleased to assist ORCA with their event that saw the latest demonstrations of cutting-edge quantum technology. The event also really showcased how our data centre platform is engineered for the next generation of HPC, AI and Quantum computing solutions.

This year we’ve signed a number of customers, big and small, but all as important as the other, and many, whom for contractual reasons, we can’t talk about. However, while we can’t always tell their story, we take great pride in seeing some of the most demanding computational technology available in the world whirring away in our data centres. Customers across financial services, life sciences, defence, AI and the hyperscale cloud are coming to Kao Data for our high performance infrastructure capabilities. Through good design, we are able to home and house all of these varying flavours of compute and storage and in that vein, KLON-02 is being driven by new customer demand for this exact reason.

We are not only looking after deeply demanding and critical workloads, but are doing so in a sustainable way. One of the steps we’ve taken in our own green energy journey this year has been to proactively collaborate with our energy provider to ensure all the renewable energy we use is now associated with a known source - Little Cheyne Court wind farm in Kent. Every electron Kao Data consumes is matched by an equivalent capacity generated by this specific wind farm. This is an important step forward as we are removing uncertainty around our energy source and ensuring our power is matched by genuine, renewable sources in the UK. It builds upon our commitment the previous year to transition our back-up diesel generators to renewable HVO fuel – something which many other organisations within the industry have begun to do, most recently, AWS. All these actions are part of our commitment to transparency for our customers so they can have better clarity around their own sustainability objectives.

One of our most important developments this year - our collaboration with Little Cheyne Court wind farm

I mentioned in the title “new horizons” and as we look ahead, one of the things that stands out to me that is conspicuously missing in the UK is a secondary data centre region. Across all the major data centre markets in Europe there is an emerging and rapidly growing group of Tier 2 cities that are set to see the fastest capacity growth across Europe. We believe the Manchester - Leeds corridor is ideally suited to be one such market here in the UK. Kao Data is currently evaluating opportunities within this geography and we will have more concrete news to share later in the year. Meanwhile our team are looking forward to meeting the UK’s northern tech community at DTX Manchester in May. If you’re there, come and meet us!

Just last week the industry celebrated ‘International Data Centre Day’. This year the theme was focused on creating awareness of the industry and inspiring the next generation of talent. Kao Data wholeheartedly supports this idea as we launched our Kao Academy last year with the purpose of educating children aged 7-11 about the growing importance and relevance of data centres to our everyday lives. It is something we are all very proud of as introducing children to STEM subjects at an early age sets them up for success later in life. Last year we also established our support for the multiple award-winning UTC Heathrow ‘Digital Futures’ programme and I’m looking forward to meeting their new Year 10 students in July.

Our KAO Academy which helps bring the world of data centres to young people.

When you’re dealing with data, servers, bits and bytes on a daily basis it’s easy to forget the people in our industry that make the computing impossible, possible. None of Kao Data’s successes this past year would be possible without the people behind the company. Everyone on the team is critical to our success. I’m a firm believer in the idea of the importance of one and the power of many. Nothing that happens here does so because of one individual. We arrive at our successes as a collective and every week we acknowledge that collective effort - an effort which was on terrific show at Data Centre World earlier this month, with the Kao Data team doing a full tour-de-force across the exhibition floor!

Whilst I am definitely not in the early stages of my career, the great work we undertake and the trust that our customers place in us with their critical infrastructure gives me new excitement and motivation each and every day. Getting teams and recruitment right is such a fundamental building block, and like our data centres, we do it very well. Equally, when we do our jobs well our customers can rest easy knowing their digital infrastructure is well taken care of. None of us take that responsibility lightly and we thank them for that trust.

Lee Myall

Lee Myall is the former CEO at Kao Data and has spent more than 20 years leading teams that design, develop and deliver mission-critical digital infrastructure.


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