Photonics enabling the digital economy

The Big UK Data Centre Equipment opportunity cover

The Big UK Data Equipment Opportunity report 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 individual data centres. This presents a major opportunity for the UK to supply latency and security-optimised hardware to the local financial services industries and the many sectors handling sensitive data in the UK, from smart metering to healthcare and security.

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 and time sensitive applications where data security is paramount, such as remote healthcare, security monitoring and handling the personal information gathered by internet-of-things e.g Smart Meters.

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.

Currently, UK data centres use as much as electricity as 3.5m homes combined. If the growth of datacentres continues at the current pace, datacentres 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.