The UK is home to one of the biggest datacentre markets in the world – this year alone £2.19 billion will be invested in British facilities. But with so much at stake, what are the risks and wider implications?
Locals used to call it "the white elephant": a giant semiconductor factory as large as Heathrow Terminal 5, lying just off the M4 motorway between Cardiff and Newport. The three storey building was built back in the late 1990s by LG Electronics but never used by the firm, standing empty for over a decade. Today, it is one of Europe's largest datacentres, NGD Europe. Now in its third year of operations, the company that runs it, Next Generation Data, is seeing growing interest from cloud providers looking for a place to house the systems that power their services, says CEO Nick Razey. In February 2012, for example, BT announced plans to build a second 929 square-metres (10,000 sq ft) data hall at the facility, due in part to rising demand among business customers for its cloud offerings.