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IBM plans four new UK AI based cloud data centres

Two locations revealed so far, first to open within weeks, second in mid 2017 to address data residency, latency and performance

By Sam

IBM is adding four new cloud data centres described as ‘infused with cognitive intelligence’ in the UK, to keep pace with growing client demand.

IBM says it was first to offer cloud services to clients in the UK through an existing Cloud data center more than five years ago, which was swiftly followed by a second UK Cloud data center in 2014.

The first facility will open in Fareham at the end of December, with three more opening in the UK next year.

Existing IBM cloud UK clients include Dixons Carphone, National Express, National Grid, Shop Direct, Travis Perkins and Wimbledon.

Dixons Carphone migrated to IBM Cloud to integrate two distinct infrastructures following its 2014 merger. 

“One of the biggest IT challenges in the retail industry is performance, reliability and rapid scalability to manage the peaks and valleys of seasonal shopping trends. IBM’s investment and expansion in the UK provides us with an even more seamless ecommerce and retail experience for our customers during these busy retail periods including holidays and new product launches,” said David Hennessy, IT Director, Dixons Carphone.

Armakuni, a provider to financial services and fintech, said: “Data security and residency are two key concerns when considering use of cloud services in financial services. Expansion of their cloud data centre footprint in the UK goes a long way to address these concerns and enables us to better serve UK customers securely.”

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IBM also signed an agreement to lease space within Ark Data Centres in the UK, which will see the second of the four new cloud data centers fully operational in mid-2017.

Ark is the joint venture partner with the UK Government delivering public sector data centre services under the Crown Hosting Framework.  Crown Hosting, based in the same Ark facility, is already being used by a number of public sector departments and agencies.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture. “Today’s announcement by IBM is a further boost for this thriving area, and another vote of confidence which shows Britain is open for business. These new cloud data centres will help our firms work smarter and quicker to become the world-leading businesses of tomorrow.”

  • The facilities are designed to provide users with the largest portfolio and pool of bare metal servers in the market delivering up to an 8X performance increase on database applications.
  • Clients can mix infrastructure resources, including bare metal servers, virtual servers, storage, and networking, to find the right balance for their workloads. These facilities will also offer users the latest IBM POWER and x86 processors, NVIDIA GPU accelerators, OpenPOWER-based servers, SAP HANA applications and IBM Bluemix development tools.
  • Clients have access to IBM Watson, Blockchain, IoT and cloud-based services through more than 150 open APIs. IBM provides a complete stack of cloud services with IaaS, PaaS and SaaS capabilities

The facilities connect to IBM’s public data centers around the world to help clients transfer and replicate their data in multiple locations and quickly balance or reroute workloads between multiple locations.

IBM has more 50 global cloud data centers, In September, IBM announced the opening of its first cloud data center in the Nordics. The addition of the new UK data center facilities will mark 16 IBM data centers across Europe.

Cloud adoption rates increased to 84% in the UK over the course of the last five years, according to Cloud Industry Forum.

IDC forecasts that the global market opportunity for public cloud services will exceed $195 billion by 2020.

Tour operator Thomson, part of TUI UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest travel operator, is trialling a new travel search tool, which leverages Watson cognitive services on the IBM Cloud with its customers giving them the opportunity to find travel inspiration by interacting with the virtual travel assistant.  The tool is a smart chatbot that interacts with consumers to provide real-time search results on travel destinations and holiday inquiries, such as “I want to visit local markets/ go on an adventure/ have a cultured holiday/ see exotic animals”. Thomson is tapping into IBM’s Cloud data center in the UK and leverages Watson APIs such as conversation, natural language classifier and speech-to-text.  The experimental website gains insights and learns from data via frequent requests to provide more digital intelligence that matches customer requirements.

Watson, powered by IBM POWER7

Watson, powered by IBM POWER7

“By leveraging IBM’s Cloud platform with Watson’s cognitive intelligence we have raised the bar in the travel industry and delivered an interactive website to our digitally savvy customers in a fun and innovative way. We are excited to learn how customers interact and what they get out of the experience,” said Jo Hickson, Head of Innovation, TUI UK&I.

“By adding four new Cloud data centres in the UK, IBM is giving local businesses an easy route to the cloud, helping them quickly innovate and respond to market demands,” said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM Cloud. “IBM is continuing to invest in high growth areas, offering clients higher-value cloud data services such as Watson and Blockchain running on our cloud infrastructure that delivers world-class scalability, performance and security.”


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