UKFast has opened a new data centre at its Manchester headquarters to cater for an increasing demand from public sector clients.
The Manchester site means that the outfit is running five facilities in the UK.
CEO Lawrence Jones said that the outfit’s existing government data centre is filling up fast and the company realises 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”, Jones said.
UKFast is considering an IPO where it should be worth upwards of £350 million.
UKFast flogs dedicated servers, cloud services and colocation to more than 5,000 government, public sector and commercial organisations. It has been doing well and last year it turned over £47 million.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said: “We’ve given away shares in the company to loyal teammates who work incredibly hard, but we’ve never seriously considered selling shares before now. Timing is critical and a great deal depends on market conditions, so that’s why we’ve appointed GCA Altium.”
Jones claimed in this latest announcement that there is firmly a place for British providers in the multicloud world.
“The British hosting market is incredibly exciting and, whilst there’s a lot of talk around AWS and Azure, the industry’s adoption of multicloud strategies means there’s a huge opportunity for British cloud providers to give the US organisations a run for their money”, he said.
“We’ve seen from the deals we’re winning in the public sector and at government level that there’s an appetite from British organisations to deal with other British organisations. By continuing to invest in our technology and our product set, I see UKFast as being the definitive British alternative.”
Cloud firm UKFast is taking a stake in a start-up which accelerates the processing abilities of servers.
Reconfigure.io is based in Manchester, with a 13-strong global team, including developers in the US. The move makes UKFast the largest single investor in Reconfigure.io’s current funding round.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said that it was an exciting investment for UKFast and for the future of the internet.
“There are only so many times you can launch a new chip with increased processing power or add more cores. Reconfigure.io is unlocking the technology that supports growth in virtual reality, big data and machine learning. There is an incredible future ahead for these guys.”
UKFast is committed to speeding up the internet and Reconfigure.io is facilitating the technology to make that happen.
“We’ll be looking to use it in our products as we look to integrate greater use of AI and machine learning. Reconfigure.io is set to make a huge difference to a lot of businesses”, he said.
Field-programmable gate arrays can perform several tasks at the same time, providing speed enhancements over the same code running on traditional CPUs. Reconfigure.io lets users programme FPGAs with Go – a simpler programming language than more complex code.
Common applications for FPGAs include AI and machine learning, cloud monitoring, data analytics and the Internet of Things.
Reconfigure.io CEO Rob Taylor said that he is looking forward to building a working partnership and creating the next generation of computing infrastructure.
“We aim to bring on investors who add value to our business and having this relationship with UKFast opens many major doors”, Taylor said.
UKFast says that it is taking on some well-established competitors as it looks for more government business.
Since its purchase of Secure Information Assurance (S-IA) earlier this year, UKFast has been flat out drawing in public sector cash. The firm claims it has tripled public sector revenues.
This includes a £250,000 deal with the Cabinet Office, a £500,000 deal with software development service CDS and a £266,000 deal with enterprise mobility management provider Nine23.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said the outfit now feels it is a serious challenge to some of the household US names and other public-sector players like UKCloud.
He said that the acquisition of S-IA was timely, and with it comes relationships with organisations including the MoD, Cabinet Office and other high-profile government departments.
“We’re ensuring the government knows there is a better British cloud alternative, more aligned to the needs of the great people of this country”, he effused.
The company has since continued to build on the acquisition of S-IA and had invested in the systems that were needed by health, defence and central government customers.
UKFast and Cisco have teamed up with the Open University to tackle the IT skills gap and improve the technical expertise available to Northern employers.
UKFast invited schools across the North West to sign up to take advantage of the support being offered to teachers by the Cisco Net Academy.
UKFast held a launch event last week and has already seen 73 schools sign-up to take advantage of the resources that the networking giant is offering.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said that while everyone was talking about the skills shortage in technology, and there’s no way we can combat that shortage if teachers do not get the tools to deliver cutting-edge digital training.
Technology is evolving so quickly that we need to focus on supporting teachers and keeping them up to speed with the latest developments,” said MBE.
“Just last week a skills audit by Manchester Digital called on employers to engage more closely with education. It’s something we’ve been doing at UKFast for years and we’re seeing amazing results. You can see from the incredible uptake for the scheme from schools and colleges that it’s something they’re crying out for,” he added.
Cisco and UKFast are working with the Open University to deliver the academic programme and there is still a chance for schools to sign up to the programme.
Nuno Guarda, head of corporate affairs for Cisco in the UK & Ireland said it was critical to have strong partners like UKFast and the Open University because they bring amazing value to the curriculum and help deliver it to local schools.
“This has been Cisco’s flagship CSR programme since 1997 and we’re aiming to help everyone, not only IT professionals, become more confident in their use of technology and help them understand how it fits in the world that surrounds them,” Guarda said.
UKFast has written a cheque for its second security firm acquisition in just a few months.
The outfit is getting more aggressive as it seeks larger public sector contracts. Last July it bought Pentest and this week wrote a £2.3 million cheque for Secure Information Assurance. SIA has clients which include the MoD and the Cabinet Office.
The deal took a year to complete and required UKFast to get access to the IL3 and IL4 Official-Sensitive accreditations.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said that acquiring S-IA was a strategic move, not only because of its high-profile government clients, but also because of its security product set.
“It’s a rising business and the deal was an extremely competitive process, but the S-IA management team sees the clear advantage of partnering with UKFast, seeing the instant scalability of our eCloud platform as the perfect offering for the government.”
S-IA CEO Martin Knapp is remaining to head up UKFast’s G-Cloud team and will be looking to grow public sector revenues.
“The conversation started when we went to UKFast to look at their data centre facilities. We initially planned to host our cloud with UKFast, but we were so impressed that we started a conversation about becoming partners and that quickly became a conversation about Lawrence buying the business,” he said.
A Manchester man who runs a small to medium sized business (SMB) is recognised in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.
Lawrence Jones (pictured) runs hosting and colocation firm UKFast and received an MBE for his services to the UK’s digital economy.
Jones said his company specialises in helping UK SMEs by providing small firms with high end tech that are normally affordable only to enterprises.
He said: “We, the SMEs, are the ones that are paying tax, not the big boys with the clever tax planning.”
Small companies drive the UK economy, he said. His 15-year old company turns over £30 million a year and has 200 employees.
He said: “As an entrepreneur you find yourself carrying on regardless, working your hardest, even when there are not many people who pat you on the back. I am tremendously proud to be British and to get an honour like this makes all of the hard work worthwhile.”
* Inventor Trevor Baylis has received a CBE in the Honours list. He invented the Baygen wind up radio, and received the award for services to intellectual property.