Red Oak Consulting Llp

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Red Oak Consulting Llp'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 Red Oak Consulting Llp 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

Highlighting best practice
Owen Thomas, senior partner
and co-founder, has a wealth of
experience spanning in excess
of 30 years within the world of
HPC technology
Our consultants regularly attend and
present at major HPC industry events,
both in the UK and internationally
Having been instrumental in over 30 large-scale HPC (high-
performance computing) procurements and over 100
HPC projects, it is no wonder Red Oak Consulting, only
14 years old, is recognised as the UK’s leading consultancy for
HPC. Involved in the installation of two of the world’s top 20
supercomputers, Red Oak Consulting, led by senior partner
and co-founder Owen Thomas, stands unmatched in service
excellence and looks eagerly to the technological challenges of
the future.
Red Oak Consulting, with our team of industry-renowned IT consultants, leads
the way in the provision of unique customer solutions. Our diverse skill set enables
us to meet our customers’ ongoing IT requirements. Unrivalled in our field, our
reputation is one of professionalism, expertise, trust and reliability. We continue
to be instrumental in assisting numerous sectors on their HPC journeys, including
government, public, academia and commercial. Whether your business requires
support with defining strategy, analysis for total cost management or project
management, we can provide services that will cover the whole of the HPC and
cloud life cycle.
What is high-performance computing?
What makes HPC “high performance” is the use of many CPUs all connected in
parallel, all working and communicating with each other, solving numerous parts of
the same problem at once. HPC is used as a tool to attack difficult problems – those
which a desktop or laptop would struggle to handle in a reasonable timeframe.
»Senior partner and co-
founder: Owen Thomas
»Established in 2004
»Based in Alton, Hampshire and
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
»Services: Include consulting for
high-performance computing
and cloud life cycle
»No. of employees: 10
»Became a supplier on the
Crown Commercial Services
framework under Technology
Services TS2 in 2017
»Both ISO 9001 and Cyber
Essentials accredited
Red Oak Consulting
Despite the ability to process data
faster, HPC can be deemed hard
to get right, due to the frequently
complex systems involved. Software
is an additional issue – getting a high
number of CPUs to co-ordinate on the
same problem is easier conceptually
than it is in practice. That is why HPC
as a discipline matters.
Getting started – who we
were yesterday
Owen Thomas says: “Having worked
in the IT industry for over 30 years,
I identified there was a gap in the
market. With HPC being such a niche
solution, it quickly became apparent
that more highly skilled and specialist
teams of consultants were required.
“Having identified this necessity, I
established Red Oak Consulting in
2004, a unique consultancy firm that
was focused solely on the challenging
requirements of HPC. Through
conviction, hard work and dedication
we rapidly gained momentum, coming
to position ourselves as a reliable
source of expertise. To generate
success, one must build a reputation
for honesty and trust – stakeholders do
not like surprises. This is a credential I
am proud to say Red Oak Consulting
has established and one our customers,
such as the Met Office and Hull
University, would deliver testament to.”
Having successfully obtained
sustainability in the world of HPC,
we ask: what is next for Red Oak
Consulting? With the evolution of
IT continuing and showing no signs
of slowing down, our expansion
continues – with the progression of
cloud computing, AI and machine
The cloud
Unlike traditional HPC, the idea behind
the cloud is that you simply pay for
the services that you need as and
when you need them. It is considered
akin to having access to a tap of
computational services which you can
turn on and off whenever needed,
and you must only pay when it is on.
It is not as simple as that, however.
While cloud offerings are maturing,
the engagement model and in many
cases the platform technology creates
difficulties for organisations. It is
recognised that the strategic, technical
and business case for moving HPC into
the cloud is still evolving. Wedonot
evangelise the case for ubiquity in HPC
moving to the cloud, but we recognise
that there are economic drivers that
will inevitably change the status quo.
This will, of course, change the
marketplace for the viability of
hardware vendors who previously
provided HPC-optimised systems.
Without prejudice, we can say the
cloud is able to offer significant
Our consultants mitigate risk
and uncertainty through their
knowledge and expertise of HPC
and cloud
Our consultants will always
work in partnership with
our customers’ IT teams,
undertaking their business
guidelines and business practices
To generate
success, one
must build a
reputation for
honesty and trust
– stakeholders
do not like
Highlighting best practice
opportunities for a wide set of
workloads across a broad set of use
cases, yet analysing the business
case remains uneasy and requires an
objective view of whole life, meaning
all associated cost factors.
It is often wondered whether one can
trust the cloud. How do the cloud
vendors ensure your data is secure,
and how cost-effective is it, really? It
seems no matter how many people we
talk to or how many presentations we
give, the same questions and concerns
keep arising. What are the three cloud
giants doing about this situation – are
they listening to these concerns, or
relying on the strength of their brand
to get them through? After all, who
hasn’t heard of Amazon Web Services,
Google and Microsoft?
It is evident that the major cloud
vendors recognise HPC and understand
its value – but are they able to
meet the unique criteria that are a
requirement of what was traditionally
on-premise HPC? It is fair to say they
are developing and enhancing their
services as the need for HPC solutions
in the cloud is progressing. They do
not have all the solutions, nor can
they accommodate everything that
traditional on-premise HPC can do, but
that is only today – tomorrow will be a
different story.
Planning for tomorrow today
Cloud technology is here to stay
and the development of its ability to
support HPC continues. We believe
that in a few years a different story
will be told. We will see a world
where traditional on-premise HPC will
be a thing of minority. Nobody likes
change, but if we don’t evolve we will
be left behind. Our job is to make sure
change runs smoothly, eradicating
risk and exposure. Customers need to
understand what the cloud can do,
what choices are available and what
are the true reflective costs associated
with this technology. Customers need
to be asking the right questions at
the very inception of the thought
process; otherwise, how else are
they to make the right, informed
decision? Obtaining total clarity and
understanding is key and mission-
critical for success.
This is advice that we are almost
uniquely placed to offer. We remain
committed to this area of technology
and continue to make great strides
forward in innovation, with Red Oak
Consulting vigorously engaging with
the major cloud vendors to ensure
that what does eventuate tomorrow is
more fit for purpose in HPC.
Nobody likes
change, but if
we don’t
evolve we
willbe left
Red Oak Consulting run regular
seminars to help enhance
business knowledge and skill set
on HPC and cloud technology

This article was sponsored by Red Oak Consulting Llp. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister