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8 October, 2020 - 21:18 By News Desk

Kao Data perfectly placed to deliver on exascale computing demand

Cambridge hasn’t been crowned the UK’s centre of Science, Tech and Innovation for nothing. And with exascale computing just around the corner, promising to drive ground-breaking work in every innovative sector from AI through to life sciences, the next decade could bring a golden age of scientific breakthroughs for our region.

Indeed, exascale – with the capability of reaching the estimated processing power of the human brain at neural level – represents the next milestone in supercomputing achievements to enable and scale future innovation.

Performing a quintillion (a billion billion) operations a second, exascale is 1,000 times faster and more powerful even than the petascale, which is ‘only’ able to make a quadrillion (a million billion) calculations a second.

Already, in April, we witnessed the distributed computing project, [email protected] attain one exaFLOPS of computing performance. And so, moving forwards, the need for serious, big data storage and processing power, close to home is becoming very real and more and more pressing. It’s the reason why research establishments and businesses focused on big data analytics and deep learning are looking for outside help, and turning to specialised data centres to support their extreme-scale computing requirements; Data centres like Kao Data in Harlow, in the heart of the UK Innovation Corridor

It is one of the few specialist data centres in the UK engineered to specifically cater for advanced supercomputing and high performance computing (HPC) deployments, as well as intensive, high-density forms of AI and machine learning. 

In fact, this hyperscale-inspired campus already features special Technology Suites supporting multi-megawatt, ultra high-density requirements for larger, industrial-scale HPC customers. And Kao Data’s £230 million, ‘future-proof’, cutting edge design for HPC is now setting the standard for data centre design and innovation.

Paul Finch, interim CEO and COO at Kao Data, says: “Top-tier computing power is key to all kinds of research in science, academia and AI, facilitating quicker and better simulations of everything from drug discovery, developing vaccines through to cancer research and treatment and machine learning. 

“And it is exascale which will provide this exponential increase in memory, storage, and compute power needed to perform these large-scale simulations and work with such complex data sets.

“In short, exascale will change the sorts of ‘problems’ that researchers will be able to work on, both in terms of size of accuracy of the solution. It will create however a demand for cutting-edge data centre infrastructure that is able to power, cool and host this kind of advanced computing and, at Kao Data, our ambition is to be the provider of choice within the UK Innovation Corridor and beyond.”

In February this year, Kao Data gained global recognition after being awarded the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers) Technology Award for Industrial Facilities and Processes, recognising the company’s outstanding achievement in the design and operation of energy efficient buildings.

Kao Data Campus, Harlow

Kao Data’s four-strong leadership team has undoubtedly been pivotal to the company’s rapid development and recognition.

Chairman, Craig Wilson is an IT industry veteran, responsible for growing some of the country’s leading IT services businesses (EDS UK, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services UK, CSC UK, Xchanging PLC) during his 38-year career. And, having advised some of the largest companies and government departments, Craig now sits on a number of public and private sector boards, helping these organisations with their digital challenges.

Interim CEO and COO, Paul Finch is a globally respected data centre thought-leader, named by Data Economy as one of the “Top Influencers in Data Centres, Cloud and Data.”.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, Paul provides the strategic direction and oversight to the company and policy level leadership to the European and North American data centre industries. During his 30-year career he has played key roles at Fortune 500 corporations and publicly traded REITs including CBRE and Digital Realty Trust. 

In total, he has overseen the creation and execution of global developments exceeding £1 billion in capital deployment and supporting over 200MW of technical space.

CTO Gerard Thibault oversees the technical design and construction of all aspects of the Kao Data data centre. He has over 40 years of experience within the electrical engineering industry and, more specifically, 20 years as a technical thought-leader within the international data centre sector.
He joined Kao Data after an 11-year assignment at Digital Realty Trust where, as vice-president of design for the EMEA region, he had responsibility for the design and implementation of over 150MW of data centre space across 24 sites globally, including 15 new build European projects. 

Prior to Digital Realty Trust he held senior positions at Global Crossing and CBRE and has been recognised by the Uptime Institute as an Accredited Tier Designer.

The fourth and final member of the leadership team is Spencer Lamb, Kao Data’s vice-president of sales & marketing. Already a 25-year veteran of the data centre sector (having worked at data centre companies, Infinity SDC and Verne Global), Spencer is an influential, industry thought leader with a reputation for multi-million pound revenue creation across finance, hyperscale, life sciences, research and education.

The team’s solid credentials are underpinned by a significant blue-chip investment from L&G Capital and Goldacre/Noé Group, which has seen them shortlisted for the 2020 Tech Investment of the Year Award at the EG Tech Awards.

Both firms have additionally been shortlisted in the Infrastructure Award category after demonstrating that their investment in Kao Data makes the best use of technology to facilitate, create or improve an infrastructure project for the future.

Paul Finch says: “With the network of world-class, high tech organisations, excellent connectivity infrastructure and a skilled workforce that rivals anywhere in Europe, Cambridge and the UK Innovation Corridor is ideally placed to take advantage of the continuing increase in high performance computing and the opportunities this creates.

“Underpinning this will be data centres that can provide the power, technical excellence and scalability to cater for advanced workloads. Here at Kao Data we’re ready for that challenge.” 

• PHOTOGRAPH: Gerard Thibault (CTO), Spencer Lamb (VP Sales & Marketing) and Paul Finch (interim CEO and COO)

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