Ark Data Centres

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Ark Data Centres's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Ark Data Centres is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

CEO Huw Owen
An Ark campus
Ark Data Centres securely house the equipment, data
and networks that drive the technology that powers the
operations of international banks, FTSE 100 companies
and numerous other UK-based businesses. They are also the
joint venture partner of the government in Crown Hosting Data
Centres Limited. Over their history, Ark have attracted more
than three-quarters of a billion pounds of investment, of which
~98 per cent was spent in the UK. CEO Huw Owen discusses
the rapid growth of the company, its contribution to the UK
economy and how high-energy tariffs, business rates and the
treatment of offshore investment vehicles can limit growth.
We design, build and operate data centres across our three sites in the UK. Data
centres are buildings that house the computers and storage that contemporary
organisations use to organise, process, store and disseminate large amounts of
data, supporting countless business processes. Our buildings are made up of highly
resilient environments, inside which technology equipment is powered, cooled and
secured. Technology underpins many of the day-to-day functions of business and
our personal lives, and data centres act as an anchor, much like the factories of the
Industrial Revolution, housing and enabling our modern way of operating.
In 2012, following a recapitalisation by an American investment firm, a new
management team was installed. This has proven a real success story, and we have
witnessed compound top line growth of around 43 per cent per year. More directly
for the UK economy, we have managed to attract over three-quarters of a billion
pounds of investment to fuel that growth, with roughly 98 per cent of this being
»CEO: Huw Owen
»Established in 2010
»Based in Corsham,
Farnborough and London
»Services: Design, build and
operation of data centres
»No. of employees: 70
Ark Data Centres
Highlighting best practice
spent in the UK. This helps to support
British engineering, construction,
security and specialist equipment
companies and helps them to maintain
roughly 400 jobs while at the same time
more than doubling our ownworkforce.
Working with the government
In 2015, following a competitive
procurement process involving over
50 companies, we entered into a
joint venture partnership with the
government. Known as Crown Hosting
Data Centres Limited, this venture
allows all government bodies to use
our data centres with the contract
terms, accreditations and pricing pre-
agreed under that framework. This
avoids duplicative, time-consuming and
costly procurements across multiple
government bodies. This joint venture
has yielded significant benefits.
The joint venture has assisted the
government’s “cloud first” strategy
by enabling old legacy systems that
cannot be moved to the cloud to
be moved to our systems, with the
garnered savings applied to fuelling
broader cloud transformations. The
direct and indirect savings to the
government are estimated to be in
the billions of pounds. The move to
more modern and efficient facilities
has also reduced the government’s
carbon dioxide emissions: the
equivalent of removing 120,000 cars
from our roads. The government
department that have moved to
Crown Hosting also now have control
of their own data. This has granted
the government commercial leverage
in situations where a technology
Traditionally, the government
contracted a managed service provider
to undertake technology services. That
service provider would deliver those
services on their equipment in their
data centres. When issues arose, the
government was confronted with the
very real operational risks and huge
costs of moving to new equipment,
in a new data centre with a new
provider and was often forced to stay
in underperforming agreements. Under
the Crown Hosting arrangements,
the government now owns its data
centre space and can contract to
take ownership of the equipment in
the event of the technology provider
underperforming. This enables it to
change service providers and to have
the ability to manage such situations.
An Ark data centre
This helps to
support British
security and
and helps
them to
roughly 400
The Crown Hosting venture accounts
for about 45 per cent of our total
business, the remainder being made
up by major international banks,
FTSE 100 companies and major cloud
providers. By looking after their data
and business tooling, we have been
successful in securing their custom and
ensuring they remain doing business in
the UK.
Restrictive business rates,
energy tariffs and taxing
offshore investment vehicles
One of the main challenges we
face is the way that business rates
are charged. The moment we have
finished construction on a new site, we
are charged business rates, although
we may not have started to receive
revenue from this new development.
As an SME, we are hit the moment
we try to expand. It would be hugely
beneficial, and far more sensible,
to begin to charge these rates
when the revenue stream has been
established. The current system
discourages building and expansion
and encourages companies to become
overly conservative.
Similarly, the volume of the tariffs and
tax on energy is restrictive in the UK.
Around 50 per cent of our energy
expenditure stems from government
tariffs and tax. We compete in a global
environment to have international
businesses land their technology in
the UK, which will, in turn, attract
other businesses to the UK. Sweden
has rebates, France is introducing
them and Germany is working
on options. The tax and tariffs on
power – the fuel of data centres and
a significant component of the total
cost of ownership – may influence the
decisions of these companies when
assessing the viability of the UK for
their expansion.
The legislation targeting offshore
investors may also impact levels of
external investment into the UK. While
I understand the motivations behind
this move, it could place certain classes
of offshore investors at a disadvantage
to their onshore equivalents.
Nationally, we have already lost
business to other jurisdictions, and,
with the potential impacts of Brexit
looming, it is important at this time for
us to encourage inward investment
into UK businesses such as ours, with
all the incumbent positive impacts that
can accompany such ventures.
As we consider the future, we plan
further expansion, both domestically
and internationally, and look forward
to continuing to make a positive
contribution to the UK economy.
As we
consider the
future, we
plan further
World-class British

This article was sponsored by Ark Data Centres. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster