DCM Editor Heather Grimes pays a visit to ‘the home of innovation’
When I first heard about Kao Data, I was immediately intrigued. Born and raised in North London, the idea of a facility popping up in Harlow that boasted itself as one of the largest developments in the UK, with the potential to support an IT load of 35MW across 150,000sq ft of space, seemed unthinkable. Naturally, when I was invited to have a look around, I jumped at the chance.
The first thing that hit me was just how easy it was to find the data centre. Kao Park is situated just minutes off the M25 but the location itself wasn’t a fluke. Gerard Thibault, chief technical officer, explained that the site was selected based on a number of factors. Accessibility was crucial, the facility needed to be easy for staff and customers to reach by road, train or plane. Positioned in the heart of the London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor, with the M1, M11, M25 all in close proximity, Harlow train station just 10 minutes away by taxi, and Luton, Stansted and City. airports all in close vicinity, they were able to pinpoint the perfect spot.
The site itself also has a strong history of innovation, witnessing one of the most significant technological breakthroughs of the post-war era. Sir Charles Kao and George Hockham’s invention of fibre optic cable in 1966 changed the world of optical communications forever and paved the way for a host of modern innovation, including broadband internet. The fact that Kao London One, the first of four proposed data centres on the Kao Park site, now stands on this site assures innovation to continue for many years to come.