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April 18, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:25am

Collocation, cooling & management: 5 hot UK data centre start-ups to watch

List: Upcoming start-ups to keep your eye on in the UK data centre industry.

By Joao Lima

There are many parts to a data centre, from cooling to power, management platforms, cloud platforms, and all sorts of hardware.

The UK is home to around 250 collocation hubs with power supply needs topping 354 MW, according to Tariff Consultancy.

CBR lists five UK based start-ups that are having an impact in the sector.

Verne Global

Collocation and wholesale data centre operator Verne Global is a London based company that in 2007 set a goal: to fight the unpredictable cost of power and availability of power sources.

The company was originally seeded by General Catalyst out of Boston. The UK entity was later established in 2011. Current CEO Jeff Monroe joined in 2008. Prior to Verne Global, Monroe also co-founded data centre operator DuPont Fabros.

The start-up owns only one site, a 44-acre data centre campus of a formal NATO airbase in the southwest of Iceland, Keflavik.Current CFO Isaac Kato was the entrepreneur from General Catalyst who led the effort and secured the property on the former NATO base.

The location was chosen due to the zone’s natural cool climate and the local supply of cheap renewable energy.

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In January 2015, the company secured $98m in an equity-funding round to finance its Icelandic data centre. Investors included Stefnir, Wellcome Trust, Novator Partners and General Catalyst.

Jeff Monroe, Verne Global CEO, said: "In order to succeed in a data-driven economy, power capacity, reliability of the power grid and low-cost power are imperatives for delivery. All of these factors point to Iceland as the logical choice for computing."


Sheffield-based Iceotope has been working to change the way computing servers are cooled. The start-up believes it is possible to use liquid cooling to reduce heat.

The company, founded in 2005, has successfully developed a fan-less Mellanox-based InfiniBand and Ethernet high-performance network and interconnect switch for HPC.

Combined with Iceotope’s technology, Mellanox’s switches can be cooled with with hot water with temperatures of up to 45C.
The firm has raised $12.4m in two different rounds of funding (A: $2.4m; B: $10m) from investors Aster Capital.

Peter Hopton, chief visionary officer at Iceotope, said: "The HPC industry is embracing liquid cooling at a remarkable rate, it is just a case of technologies being available to match demand."


Now with a decade of experience, Romonet operates a data centre end-to-end, cloud-based management platform built on a native big data architecture.

With headquarters in London, the start-up was founded in 2006 by current CEO Zahl Limbuwala and CTO Liam Newcombe.

Romonet has modelled 500 data centres with 98% accuracy and justified $800 million worth of investment in the last seven years, according to the company in a recent blog.

No funding investments have ever been disclosed. Limbuwala has previously told CBR that the idea of a company like Romonet came around after Newcombe showed him "the most complicated spreadsheet I have ever seen".

He said: "What we needed to do was take that spreadsheet, simplify it and make it useful to all service providers and data centre operators."


Manchester-based data centre provider DataCentred was founded in 2012 by its current CEO, Dr. Mike Kelly. Kelly had previously been CEO of TeleCity between 1998 and 2001.

The company has conducted one venture round, in May 2014, where it secured $6.73m from GMIF, Jon Moulton and the North West Fund. It now claims to be a £1.4bn market cap FTSE 250 organisation.

In addition to its colocation services, DataCentred also provides open source cloud compute and storage.

Dr. Kelly said: "Our services offer clients the benefits of combining the shared approach of colocation to an infrastructure-as-a-service model.

"This is an approach that allows companies to change the proportion of self owned computing machinery, flexibly and quickly, by using a cloud within the same facility."

Custodian Data Centres

Colocation, data centre and network provider Custodian Data Centres was launched in 2003.

The company is based in Kent and the current CEO is Rowland Stephen Kinch, who also serves as CEO of live TV studios Maidstone Studios.

The company has one flagship 150,000 sq ft site in Kent, in a former TV studio. It also has a presence in Surrey, London Docklands and London City.

Its net worth is £312.7k and assets stand at £465.1k, according to its latest filling with Companies House.

Leonard Kay, Custodian Data Centres business development manager, said: "Companies are increasingly turning to data centres to help ensure that their mission-critical IT remains online, come what may.

"Data management is becoming essential to the smooth-running of any business."


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