Category Archives: UK

IBM to create HPC and big data centre of excellence in UK

datacenterIBM and the UK’s Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have jointly announced they will create a centre that tests how to use high performance computing (HPC) for big data analytics.

The Hartree Power Acceleration and Design Centre (PADC) in Daresbury, Cheshire is the first UK facility to specialise in modelling and simulation and their use in Big Data Analytics. It was recently the subject of UK government investment in big data research and was tipped as the foundation for chancellor George Osborne’s northern technology powerhouse.

The new facility launch follows the government’s recently announced investment and expansion of the Hartree Centre. In June Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson unveiled a £313 million partnership with IBM to boost Big Data research in the UK. IBM said it will further support the project with a package of technology and onsite expertise worth up to £200 million.

IBM’s contributions will include access to the latest data-centric and cognitive computing technologies, with at least 24 IBM researchers to be based at the Hartree Centre to work side-by-side with existing researchers. It will also offer joint commercialization of intellectual property assets produced in partnership with the STFC.

The supporting cast have a brief to help users to cajole the fullest performance possible out of all the components of the POWER-based system, and have specialised knowledge of architecture, memory, storage, interconnects and integration. The Centre will also be supported by the expertise of other OpenPOWER partners, including Mellanox, and will host a POWER-based system with the Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform. This will provide options for using energy-efficient, high-performance NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators and enabling software.

One of the target projects will be a search for ways to boost application performance while minimising energy consumption. In the race towards exascale computing significant gains can be made if existing applications can be optimised on POWER-based systems, said Dr Peter Allan, acting Director of the Hartree Centre.

“The Design Centre will help industry and academia use IBM and NVIDIA’s technological leadership and the Hartree Centre’s expertise in delivering solutions to real-world problems,” said Allan. “The PADC will provide world-leading facilities for Modelling and Simulation and Big Data Analytics. This will develop better products and services that will boost productivity, drive growth and create jobs.”

Study urges telcos to do better on cloud

Mobile bankingTelecoms operators are missing an open goal on cloud services, according to a report by cloud service market provider BCSG, writes While operators are perfectly placed to sell small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) the services they want, their indifference is actually driving customer away and they could miss a multi billion pound opportunity.

Its report SMB cloud services: the multi-billion dollar opportunity for telcosinterprets the data from an independent survey of 500 US and UK SMBs. The report argues that there is a strong demand for cloud computing services among medium sized businesses. However, the SMBs say their buying decisions are being delayed by confusion over which services will best suit their needs. While 43 per cent of the study group said they want to buy cloud services, only 31 per cent even had a cloud migration strategy in place.

Demand for cloud services is high and many want support in making the transition from their present on-premise computing model, says the report. However, telcos are ignoring this clear opportunity for consultancy, it argues.

Many SMBs complained that the indifference of their current supplier will make them look elsewhere. According to the report 42 per cent of SMBs receive ‘no help from their telecoms operators whatsoever’. This could possibly lead to mass defections, as 58 per cent of the sample of SMBs said they’d take their business to any service provider that shows them how to get access to a broader range of technology. As a result of the lack of interest shown by the telcos in their existing customers, 52 per cent of the SMBs said they will contemplate switching operators in the next two years.

With the potential UK/US SMB cloud computing services market quantified at $22 billion by PAC/Compass Intelligence studies, it’s vital that operators seize the initiative and address this clear and captive audience, said Tom Platt, commercial director at BCSG. “Operators have a unique opportunity to provide support and guidance to SMBs,” said Platt. If they don’t there could be consequences, Platt warned. “Long tenure from SMB customers does not imply loyalty.”

Cloud business users grow faster and are twice as profitable says study

Companies that commit themselves to cloud computing are likely to grow faster and enjoy twice the profit of their non-cloud using rivals, according to a study. The research also indicates that the UK is leading Europe in cloud adoption. However, one critic said there is no evidence that cloud computing creates productivity, or is a consequence of it.

The Exact 2015 SME Cloud Barometer report, an independent study of 2,975 SME leaders in the UK, the USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, found a correlation between companies with three or more cloud products and revenue growth. The ‘heavy users’ of cloud achieved higher revenue growth and over twice the profit of their less committed cloud users.

Penetration of cloud computing in the UK is relatively high in comparison with its European peers, according to the study. The UK has the second highest number of ‘heavy’ cloud software users (27 per cent) behind the USA on 29 per cent. However, the Netherlands, Belgium and France were not significantly behind, with their rates of cloud adoption being 25, 24 and 24 per cent respectively. Germany, with a cloud adoption rate of 10 per cent, was more significantly behind.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of the UK sample of small and medium sized enterprises SMEs now use at least one cloud business software tool.

The study examined the correlation between growth and cloud adoption and found that on average those companies it defined as heavy users enjoyed revenue growth of 26 per cent in 2015. In comparison the companies that used only one or two cloud computing systems grew revenues by an average of 14 per cent. Those with no cloud systems at all showed the slowest growth rates, with revenues on average growing by 10 per cent.

Of the UK sample, the most popular reason given (by 54 per cent of the survey) for adopting new cloud systems was that the ‘need to replace outdated versions’. Saving money on IT was the most frequently cited motivation for cloud computing among UK SMEs. Getting better access to information was the third most important criterion for cloud.

Erik van der Meijden, CEO of study sponsor Exact, claimed that most SMEs see it as a strategic purchase. “[They] said they felt that technology is going to have a strong impact on the competitive landscape in their market over the next three years,” said Meijden.

However, analyst Clive Longbottom, principal researcher at Quocirca, said the link between cloud and productivity needs more definition. “Causality is something that doesn’t seem to be taken into account here,” said Longbottom, “slow-thinking companies that are performing badly are unlikely to be at the leading edge of technology. Those that see technology as a core part of their business will tend to perform better.”

Mounting frustration with cloud technology is stifling adoption – research

An influential group of senior business executives is being disillusioned by experiences with cloud hosted applications, according to new research. The proportions, though relatively low, are growing as cloud disenchantment threatens to set in.

The revelations come from research by cloud service provider Stratogen. Its main finding was that the expense, the lack of both applications and support and the downtime involved are all disappointing the company decision makers who backed cloud computing in their companies.

If news of the disenchantment spreads among the business community, the bad feedback could nip cloud growth in the bud, according to Karl Robinson, chief commercial officer at StratoGen. “The research highlights a major problem for cloud technology,” said Robinson, “It is clear UK businesses today have a distinct lack of confidence in the cloud’s ability to deliver the benefits it is capable of.”

The study, conducted independently by Arlington Research, involved a survey of 1000 senior business executives. Around three quarters (74 per cent) of the survey group reported day to day frustrations with using cloud hosted applications.

The main complaint for 20 per cent of the study group was the high cost of their cloud applications. Another minority (17 per cent) complained about the lack of available cloud applications. The lack of IT support was mentioned by 16 per cent of the survey and one tenth of those surveyed were not happy with the amount of downtime.

As a result, a minority of the survey group (17 per cent of the business leaders quizzed) are concerned that their cloud systems are preventing their company from growing. Around the same proportion (14 per cent) are worried that downtime is affecting employee productivity and creating a loss of company earnings.

Though these are complaints from a small minority, the survey figures seem to indicate that their influence is disproportionally high, since 33 per cent of the business leaders say they are now ready to remove their business off the cloud completely. A further 31 per cent are also considering a cloud exodus.

“The perceived high cost of cloud hosting is a direct result of the unexpected metered costs businesses are all too often hit with,” said Robinson, “migration challenges and the time invested in integrating cloud technology with legacy applications can further increase the cost of cloud computing.”

Cloud strategy still tentative for many UK corporations – study

IT managers and CIOs should not feel they’ve missed the boat as the majority of enterprises have only just started their cloud journey, according to a new enterprise study.

If a study of 200 senior IT managers in large public and private sector organisations is an accurate reflection of the nation’s IT, only 3 per cent of enterprises have arrived at their final cloud destination. Not far from half (41 per cent) of IT managers surveyed were categorised as ‘still taking their first tentative steps towards cloud’ by the survey conductor Vanson Bourne. The study, run on behalf of UK cloud services provider Redcentric, also identified another significantly large group (32 per cent) that said they’re only half way to their cloud destination.

The study also identified the five types of personality trait that emerge among IT managers and CIOs as the pressure to adopt cloud technology builds. Five genres of manager were identified – in ascending order of caution – as Experimenters, Evolutionaries, Accelerators, Progressives and Cautionaries.

The relative proportions of these self-identified personality types did not always match the spread of cloud installations, however. Four per cent of cloud managers identified themselves as ‘risk-taking experimenters’ who were ‘willing to accept the ups and downs of moving to the cloud and not entirely sure the direction they will take’. This roughly equated to the proportion of managers (3%) who were satisfied they had completed their cloud journey.

Equal numbers of IT mangers and CIOs saw themselves as Accelerators (16%) who want to move to the cloud as fast as possible and Progressives (16%) who want to use cloud to make bold business changes. Taken together, these categories indicate that 32 per cent of the study group are frustrated in their ambitions for the cloud. This matched exactly the number (32 per cent) of companies that have yet to reach the half way point of their cloud migration.

The majority of the study group (50 per cent) identified themselves as Evolutionary and stated that they take a steady approach where cloud is a natural progression for the business.

There is a significant group of Cautionaries (15 per cent) who are most cynical about cloud overall. However, only 3 per cent of the group have not embarked on cloud projects, which indicates that 12 per cent of IT managers and CIOs have embarked on a cloud migration without having any faith in the technology.

“We wanted to help UK organisations understand where they are and where their journey is likely to take them next,” said Redcentric sales director Andy Mills, “The findings show there is huge untapped potential still to explore.”