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Europe & Middle East Outlook

Technology
Data Centres
UK

FUTURE-TECH

Leading the Data Centre Revolution

James Wilman, CEO of Future-Tech, reveals how the Company’s innovative ethos is fuelling technological progression

In 1997, the ASCI Red supercomputer had 1.3 teraflops of power, standing as the world’s fastest supercomputer.

Today, the Xbox One X games console, available to consumers all over the world has six teraflops, whilst the world’s most powerful supercomputer utilises 122.3 petaflops – more than 94,000 times the power of the ASCI Red.

Benjamin Franklin, world renowned as the Founding Father of the United States, once said “without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning”.

Although Franklin’s death in 1790 was almost exactly 100 years before the invention of electricity, such timeless words still resonate today with those at the heart of the exponential evolution of computer technology, including UK-based data centre specialist Future-Tech.

“I think the key thing that sets us apart is our belief that we can always do better. Our drive to always improve. Our knowledge that we are never at our peak and that we can always find some area to evolve and grow,” reveals James Wilman, Chief Executive Officer at the Company. “This belief and drive is hardwired in to the DNA of the company. It is what keeps us moving and developing.”

Such an outlook, retained throughout Future-Tech’s 36-year history, has been pivotal in moulding the Company as it stands today; at the forefront of the data centre revolution.

Wilman continues: “We avoid the temptation to say we strive for perfection, we instead strive to always do better than we have done before, to always improve on what went before. This gives us an evolution that can be tracked from project to project.”

Progression in practice

Future-Tech’s drive to stay ahead of the curve has been evident throughout its existence.

At the turn of the millennium, the Company identified the growing demand for energy efficient and high-density power and cooling, two solutions that are prevalent in much of its work since then.

Between 2009-2015, a period of significant advancement for the data centre industry, Future-Tech won eight independent awards for its adoption, development and refinement of energy efficient design technologies and principles.

Further, the Company identified cloud computing, IOT and edge services as trends that would drive the industry forward. These combined with geo-redundancy, infrastructure flexibility, cost, speed of deployment and new commercial structures will completely change the industry over the course of the next five or so years.

Wilman explains: “From the early-2010’s it became obvious that cloud-based services were going to be very disruptive to the owner operator data centre sector and although specialist facilities were, and still are, required, the number would begin to decline.”

A world of experience

Future-Tech’s ability to identify key trends has been cultivated from years of industry experience, from working across a broad spectrum, and from the expertise it has gained from collaborations with organisations and individuals.

“We engage with authorities such as the Uptime Institute, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the British Standards Institute and others to further refine and improve our knowledge and service delivery,” Wilman reveals.

“We believe there are lessons to be learnt on every project and that by working together, sharing our knowledge and engaging with likeminded companies and individuals, we will continue to make a significant contribution to the industry.”

Working with major institutions and global companies, such as key partner ABB, Future-Tech has developed an accomplished portfolio within the industry.

Currently, the firm is undertaking the design of six data centres, providing monitoring and evaluation services at 96 other facilities, managing the procurement of two data centres and providing consultancy expertise at a further four facilities.

Further, since 2015, the Company has been engaged on more than 500MW of data centre capacity across the EMEA and APAC regions.

“Our vast experience of different technologies, design solutions and deployment strategies coupled with the broad variety of locations we have worked equips us well,” Wilman adds.

Accountability is key

Whilst knowhow and progression are key to Future-Tech’s success, so too is the company’s service – an area where the organisation truly stands apart.

Due to the high level of stratification within the data centre industry, Future-Tech has looked to simplify  complexities by categorising the sector into seven key use-case sub-sets, each with its own drivers, technologies and direction, in order provide a better-defined service to its clients.

“Being a specialist within an already specialist field of engineering, consultancy and services delivery means we can really tailor our approach to each sub-set,” says Wilman. “This knowledge and experience gives us an advantage over more generalised companies and service delivery teams, and gives our clients an advantage in terms of solution, time and cost.

“We believe that every project, assignment and facility we work on is our own and we owe it to ourselves and our colleagues to do the very best we can. This creates a culture of accountability. It is this culture that our clients become a part of and I think sets us apart. We become one team in the truest sense.”

A platform to succeed

Pivotal to the success of its unrivalled services are the Future-Tech staff – a team that has been gradually and carefully cultivated to embody the Company’s philosophies.

The firm views its recruitment policy in a similar way to its service offering; favouring an open-minded outlook and a culture of diversity.

Wilman explains: “We always try to create a balance between the two. It is important to have experience, but experience doesn’t come exclusively with age. Equally, youth is also important, not youth in years necessarily, but youth in mind.

“In my experience innovation is an overused word in the data centre industry. Often, we are taking ideas and concepts and just tweaking them slightly, just improving them a little each time. Over 12 months a solution can evolve huge amounts, and some might call the result innovative, however, it is not an innovation, it is a progression.

“We approach our employment practices in the same way, by looking at each project and asking how we could have done it better if we could do it again. Sometimes this analysis shows an area where we would like a different type of knowledge or experience. This then drives our recruitment.”

The Company further abides by this ethos by ensuring it provides new opportunities, acting as a platform for personal progression; something it hopes to continue to provide moving forward.

“Internal promotion is very important to us,” Wilman adds. “Skills can be taught but intelligence, drive and the desire to take ownership cannot. We try to create an environment where people can step up, whether it is with ideas, with actions or both. We have been fortunate in that our core team are a great group of people who have their positions because they have earnt them.”

“With such aspirational staff, I hope that we continue to be recognised for the good work we do, that we continue to work on exciting projects all over the world and that we continue to grow at a sustainable and steady rate,” Wilman concludes.