New national Jisc data centre

Specialist data centre provider, Infinity, secures five-year framework agreement with Janet, the UK’s national research and education network

The deal sees the creation of a Jisc data centre to support the requirements for academic research and will be the first shared data centre for medical and academic research in the UK.  The funding of approximately £900,000 has been provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE.)

The data centre will house the IT of a consortium of six of the UK’s most successful scientific and academic organisations.                          

Tim Marshall, executive director Jisc technologies and CEO Janet said: “By having the shared data centre users can access off-site data storage and services. This world-leading facility will mean that users can consolidate their sensitive data in one safe environment and increase collaboration, whilst saving money both in terms of their operational costs and by not having to repeatedly procure facilities. 

“The data centre will be connected to the Janet network core and part of its backbone, therefore facilitating access, reducing costs and meeting the bandwidth requirements of large data sets. As space becomes premium on campus this is a significant step on the journey to the cloud and already indications are that this will be a major breakthrough for the UK education and research community.” 

Infinity will operate the data centre at its flagship Slough data centre in the UK. The design combines a traditional three tier datacentre with a flexible range of low to high power rack densities and an aggregated discount pricing structure across all organisations using the service, ensuring that the infrastructure is workload focused and value driven. This is the first large scale example of high performance computer environments being placed in an outsourced co-location facility.

Stuart Sutton, Infinity’s CEO, says, “Infinity is immensely proud to be selected as the best in class data centre provider for the development of this nationally important facility.  The work that the education and research sectors do can be life changing and the technology used will further the UK’s position as a global leader in medical and academic research. We are extremely pleased to be a part of that. 

“The creation of an unsurpassed community of interest for the education and research sectors here at Infinity Slough is a fantastic opportunity for us and something that we are very excited about.  Infinity’s flexible and innovative approach to data centre services was key to securing this deal. This is a great example of Infinity’s opinion that the outsourced DC market is no longer a place for property transactions – it is a flexible, scalable, partnership that delivers an important component to the overall IT solution. We look forward to working collaboratively with Jisc.” 

The new centre which will grow to more than 800 racks’ capacity will be a significant enabler in achieving its aims of improving the speed and quality of UK research. This will allow the community to share large swathes of data, helping to push the traditional boundaries of teaching, learning and research methods. For researchers, the high capacity of the Janet network backbone allows the linking of large data storage and high performance computing facilities at national and international levels. 

The initial Jisc partners are: University College London (UCL), Kings College London, The Sanger Institute, The Francis Crick Institute, The London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).  The consortium firmly believes the initial community of six customers will grow over time, as the number of institutions, both nationally and internationally see the importance of a shared data centre and the benefits of IT clustering as integral to future UK research.


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