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UKFast – UK’s First Carbon-Neutral Data Center Provider
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By Ken Phillips
“For UKFast, being sustainable is a priority, not because of optics or commercial pressure – but because it’s the right thing to do. Of course, our clients care that we’re carbon neutral. But if they didn’t, we still would be carbon zero.There’s a perception that data center providers are environmentally unfriendly, but that can and should be a misconception. That’s why it’s so important for us to do whatever we can to reduce the effects of our carbon footprint.”
— Dr Chris Folkerd, director of enterprise technologies at UKFast
UKFast is known for providing managed IT services to more than 5,000 organizations throughout the United Kingdom. These include the country’s Cabinet Office, Ministry of Defense, and National Health Service, as well as private-sector businesses across industries.
We spoke recently with Dr Chris Folkerd, director of enterprise technologies, to learn more about UKFast’s track record of sustainability, why he believes it’s important for providers of cloud solutions and services to minimize their carbon footprints, and what it means to be part of the VMware Zero Carbon Committed initiative.
“Sustainability has always been a big part of what we do,” says Folkerd. “As the UK’s first carbon-neutral data center provider, we set an example of what climate-friendly hosting services look like, and we want to continue to serve as the absolute best example of sustainability in action. A significant percentage of our platforms run on VMware based technologies, and zero carbon is an objective we’ve had in common for many years. It was only natural for us to embrace an effort as important as VMware Zero Carbon Committed.”
UKFast offers an expansive portfolio of cloud solutions and services. These include managed services for deployments with the largest hyperscalers, hosting and collation services from the company’s data center facilities, cyber security (including penetration testing, security audits, threat monitoring, and security products), and eCloud, UKFast’s private cloud based on the VMware stack.
“Our customers rely on us for our technology acumen and our radical focus on reliability and customer service,” adds Folkerd. “We guarantee 100% network uptime and operate on what we call a pod system that ensures our customers always work with the same engineers so that no matter how large we get, we still provide individualized attention and bring a deep knowledge of each customer’s bespoke solutions to our work. We also ensure that if a customer needs assistance, their call will be answered by a person able to help in six rings or less. Our approach to sustainability reflects that same dedication to do what’s right, even if doing what’s right requires a different approach or being the first to do it.”
In addition to being the first provider in the U.K. to operate its data centers in a carbon-neutral manner – all energy is provided by green providers – the company follows a stringent carbon-offset plan to address any use of fossil fuels, such as for employees’ commutes. Because of this, and the fact that the company has embraced a work-from-home policy, UKFast is now not just a carbon-neutral data center operator, but also a carbon-negative company.
The cloud’s advantages
“Cloud technology has vast potential to help companies become carbon neutral because of the economies of scale it enables,” Folkerd says. “The data centers the cloud runs on are typically much more efficient and denser than the on-premises facilities most organizations can create. Just as importantly, you don’t have numerous servers running 24/7 even if they aren’t being used. There is also rightfully much greater commercial pressure on providers to invest in green equipment and practices.”
Folkerd notes that it’s common for new clients to ask about UKFast’s sustainability credentials because carbon neutrality is becoming fundamental for most companies’ strategies. It’s a conversation UKFast welcomes and encourages.
“For UKFast, being sustainable is a priority, not because of optics or commercial pressure – but because it’s the right thing to do. Of course, our clients care that we’re carbon neutral. But if they didn’t, we still would be carbon zero. There’s a perception that data center providers are environmentally unfriendly, but that can and should be a misconception. That’s why it’s so important for us to do whatever we can to reduce the effects of our carbon footprint. It’s possible to be carbon neutral now, never mind by 2050.”
Learn more about UKFast and its partnership with VMware here.