UKFast launches multi-million pound public sector and AI data centre


Cloud firm UKFast today unveils the latest addition to its expanding data centre portfolio with the launch of a new state-of-the-art hosting facility, designed primarily to meet the needs of its growing number of government and public sector customers.

The British hosting provider saw public sector revenue increase 43% organically in the first half of 2018, compared with the same period last year.

Revenue growth is being driven in part by rapidly accelerating public sector cloud sales, which saw a 100% increase during the six-month period.

The new Tier 3 data centre, named MaNOC 9, represents a multi-million pound investment and is equipped with multi-factor access security, CCTV systems, razor-wire fencing and high-security, single-entry door systems.

To enable the delivery of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions directly from MaNOC 9, the data centre is equipped with NVIDIA DGX-1 supercomputers which utilise high-powered GPU cards and CUDA technology to accelerate deep neural network and machine learning development.

Based at the recently expanded UKFast Campus near Manchester Science Park, MaNOC 9 delivers an unprecedented level of security and technical capability.

UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said: "Our existing government data centre is filling up fast and we realise that now is the time to deliver strategic investment and accommodate the growing demand for our services from the UK government and public sector.

"We're incredibly proud to launch this space for our government and public sector clients and for any organisations in regulated sectors looking for a high-level security offering. By creating this facility we also expand our ability to deliver replicated environments to the public sector, which is an increasingly common demand.

"The addition of the AI technology is a hugely exciting step. These supercomputers are purpose built for deep learning and analytics and enable our clients to take advantage of solutions that put them at a huge advantage against their competitors."

The latest digital metering equipment is installed at MaNOC 9 to ensure power consumption levels are optimised, guaranteeing the most efficient and cost-effective energy usage possible. The site is concurrently maintainable, utilising separate A and B supply paths for power and cooling, allowing for work to be undertaken on hardware with no disruption to client solutions.

The facility is designed and built in-house by UKFast Space – the full-service team of builders, joiners and electricians responsible for the build of UKFast's existing data centres and the complete redesign and refit of UKFast Campus. The firm's data centre engineering team completed the technical build.

UKFast's data centre estate is connected to private networks including the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and Public Sector Network (PSN), enabling suppliers to deliver services directly from UKFast data centres to the public sector community using a Software as a Service (SaaS) model for the first time.

Director of UKFast Public Sector Stephen Jewell said: "There's an appetite from public sector organisations to unlock new technologies like AI, big data and machine learning. We're enabling them to do this by plugging in and accessing burstable cloud facilities at a moment's notice, which is something they just couldn't do before.

"This investment is the next step in enabling true digital transformation across all of our public services."

The move follows a £2.3m investment in UKFast's government data centre space in 2016 and the acquisition of public sector cloud hosting firm Secure Information Assurance (S-IA) in 2017.

UKFast provides services for clients across the emergency services, central and local government, health and social care, education and defence. The firm recently announced the renewal of a major contract with the UK Cabinet Office to host its ResilienceDirect emergency response platform.

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