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Data centres represent significant opportunity for UK photonics firms

Posted on 07/12/2016

Report identifies need to increase connectivity throughout the supply chain

Report identifies need to increase connectivity throughout the supply chain.

The Knowledge Transfer Network has released a report outlining the ways in which UK companies could take full advantage of the burgeoning global data centre market.

The report, The Big UK Data Equipment Opportunity, highlights UK capabilities and key players within this important growth area, with a focus specifically on the financial sector.

The past decade has seen a move from the physical trading floor to the anonymous data centre, populated with generic imported equipment. The next decade will see these systems optimised for the unique requirements of a data centre. This presents a major opportunity for the UK to supply latency and security-optimised hardware to the local financial services sector – something that may become even more important for London and the competitiveness of its financial sector in this period of political uncertainty.

Optical communications offer a significant improvement in energy performance and data transfer speed within and outside data centres – and specialised data centre are driven by security or speed of data access need components that will support those characteristics. This is particularly important to the finance sector, especially for high-speed trading.

Data centres are the next big market opportunity for optical communications firms, and the UK has many of the key elements necessary to be a key global player in the DC equipment market — major end users, a strong research base, a billion-pound specialist local market, core supplier capability and capacity for substantial supplier growth. However, the market has failed to generate the necessary links between these core elements to create a market-driven development and uptake of UK technology.

“One of the key problems the report has highlighted is the disconnection of the supply chain: the end-user is unaware of the technological advances, and the technology providers having no connections to the end-user,” said Knowledge Transfer Network Head of Emerging Technologies and Industries Anke Lohmann. “KTN can help those sectors together across the supply chain, leading to collaborations in R&D and providing a competitive advantage for UK companies across the supply chain.”

Currently, UK data centres use as much as electricity as 3.5m homes combined. If the growth of data centres continues at the current pace, data centres would consume the entire electricity supply by 2030, a bigger problem than electric cars. Working with photonics technology across UK industry to find energy- and cost-efficient solutions is vital if we want to sustain this growth.

For more information, please contact Anke Lohmann.