IBM to launch four new cloud data centers in the U.K., ahead of Amazon and others


Despite the complications that the Brexit vote has caused for some British cloud computing buyers, IBM Corp. still sees a big growth opportunity in the local infrastructure-as-a-service market.

The company plans to address the increasing demand by launching four new data centers in the U.K. through 2017. The first facility is set to open by the end of this year in Fareham, a southern town located near the busy port cities of Southampton and Portsmouth. It should enable IBM to better target the numerous companies that operate in the two municipalities and the encompassing County of Hampshire, which is the fifth-largest in England with a population of nearly 2 million.

Big Blue’s second planned cloud facility will come online in mid-2017 on a site leased from Ark Data Centres Ltd. The latter firm became the main infrastructure provider to the U.K. government last year after winning a £700 million ($865 million) contract known as the Crown Hosting Framework. IBM hopes that delivering services from the same location where several local agencies already run their workloads will put it in a better position to target the lucrative British public sector. Like the White House before it, the U.K. government adopted a “cloud-first” policy towards technology spending in 2013.

IBM didn’t divulge where the two other planned facilities will be located or when they’re scheduled to come online. But the company did specify that the data centers are set to offer services that are currently available to customers stateside, including Watson, Bluemix and its recently introduced blockchain platform.

The expansion will bring the number of data centers that IBM operates in the U.K. to six, which puts it well ahead of bigger rivals such as Inc. that have only recently started establishing a local presence. Overall, Big Blue expects to have a total of 16 cloud facilities in Europe and more than 50 worldwide when construction completes next year. The company must keep investing in infrastructure if it wants to stay ahead of the competition, which is working hard to close the gap.

Amazon Web Services powered up three new data centers in Ohio just a few weeks ago as part of an effort to court companies from the Great Lakes region. And a few months earlier, Google announced plans to launch 10 new cloud facilities of its own by 2018 in a bid to target international customers.

Image courtesy of IBM