23 Dec 2021

Season's Greetings from Kao Data

It’s that time of year where celebrations abound and we take a step back to reflect on the year coming to a close. Unfortunately, Covid is once again limiting celebrations here in the UK, but the data centre industry certainly has much to be merry about. While 2020 defined the industry as critical infrastructure in the midst of a pandemic, 2021 has proven this is not an anomaly, but a trend likely to accelerate.

Earlier in the year CBRE and others were anticipating 2021 to be a banner year for the data centre industry in Europe. Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris (FLAP) were all forecasted to double the capacity brought online in 2020, with the UK expected to maintain its status as the largest data centre market in Europe. According to Research and Markets, the European data center market by investment is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 4% from 2021-2026.

This growth continues to be driven by the digitalisation of our society. We are creating 1.7 megabytes of data every second. To give that some context, 306.4 billion emails are sent, and 500 million Tweets are made collectively every single day. In order to best utilise that data, companies and research organisations are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to increase efficiencies, improve decision-making and generate new revenue streams. The importance of AI to our society cannot be underestimated. It’s no surprise the UK government announced a “National AI Strategy” earlier this year to underpin the UK’s role in this growing phenomenon.

Here at Kao Data we have seen these trends play out in our business throughout the year. Welcoming NVIDIA’s Cambridge-1 supercomputer to our campus to elevate AI healthcare research was a collaboration effort we are all extremely proud of. The project has established a new benchmark for supercomputing performance and for high-performance data centres that house them. Capping the year off with a win for “Operations Team of the Year” at the DCD Awards honoured the work both companies put into making this project successful.

Above: Fantastic to win 'Data Center Operations Team of the Year' in partnership with NVIDIA.

Further validation of the work we are doing and the potential of the UK data centre market was the nearly £130 million investment in our business by Infratil Limited. The New Zealand based infrastructure fund views Kao Data as a strategic growth opportunity and the chance to invest in one of the fastest growing data centre markets in the world. This investment also enabled us to become a multi-site operator with an agreement to acquire two new data centres (more on these to follow in 2022) and scale our operational capacity to 55MW. Now more than ever we are delivering sustainable, high-performance infrastructure to better meet the growing needs of new and existing customers.

So where will this take us in 2022? As the discussion around COP26 reminded us, sustainability will remain at the forefront of discussions in the data centre industry. From renewable power to liquid cooling to HVO fuel for generators, data centres will need to continue to examine how to mitigate carbon emissions as they move towards becoming truly carbon neutral. It’s the small steps and the giant leaps together that will make a real difference for data centre operators world wide.

Above: In 2021 we became the first UK and European data centre to transition all our back-up generators to sustainable HVO fuel.

While industry growth continues to accelerate, one of the things likely to happen in 2022 is the growth of the European data centre market beyond FLAP. Investors are looking to emerging data centre markets such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland as the demand for capacity for cloud and content services starts to expand geographically. The need for more dispersed and distributed access across the continent is going to see new data centre hot spots emerge. All in all, this reinforces the role data centres play in our increasingly digital lives.

It’s been an exciting year at Kao Data. I said at the beginning of the year that we make it our priority to be one of the most innovative, agile, leading edge computing technology businesses in the world. This year has proven that to be the case. With the team we have on hand and their commitment to our customers, I have no doubt 2022 will bring more opportunity to make next year even better.

Finally, on behalf of everyone at Kao Data we would like to wish all our customers, contractors and partners a very merry Christmas and a safe, restful New Year.

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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