IBM joins tech giants backing investment in UK with new cloud data centres
IBM has become the latest US tech firm to commit to Britain following the Brexit vote by announcing the launch of four new cloud data centres.
The multi-million US dollar investment will increase the number of IBM cloud data centres in the UK from two to six, with the first new site set to open in Fareham at the end of December.
That will be followed by the launch of a Farnborough site by the end of first quarter when the locations of the next two facilities will be announced.
It will add to IBM's existing cloud facilities in North Harbour and Chessington, which have been operating for over five years.
The move comes after Facebook, Apple and Google, all announced plans for new London headquarters in recent months.
Apple is now set to consolidate its London operations in the Battersea Power Station from 2021, while Google will open a new London building that could create up to 3,000 jobs. Facebook this week said it plans to create an extra 500 jobs in the UK when it opens its London headquarters in 2017.
IBM said its most recent UK investment is the largest that its cloud unit has made in any one country at any one time.
IBM, which currently employs around 15,000 people across the UK, has not yet revealed jobs numbers for the new sites.
Robert LeBlanc, a senior vice president of IBM Cloud, said: "By adding four new cloud data centres in the UK, IBM is giving local businesses an easy route to the cloud, helping them quickly innovate and respond to market demands."
Along with storage and data transfer services, IBM says the sites offer "next generation capabilities", giving companies access to digital services like blockchain technology, analytics, the so-called internet of things (IoT), and IBM's machine learning technology Watson.
IBM's list of cloud clients in Britain include companies like Boots, National Express, Dixons Carphone and house builder Travis Perkins.
The UK expansion is part of the company's shift to cloud services, having boasted 12.7 billion dollars in cloud revenue (£10.2 billion) in the 12 months to September 30.
Together with analytics, mobility and security services, its cloud business helped deliver 31.8 billion dollars (£25.5 billion) in revenue over the period, which accounted for 40% of total company turnover.
Market research firm IDC estimates that the market opportunity for public cloud services will surpass 195 billion dollars (£156 billion) by 2020.
Commenting on the new facilities, Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: " We are already among the most digitally connected countries in the world, with a globally successful digital economy worth more than £118 billion a year and strong cyber security defences to protect consumers and business.
"Today's announcement by IBM is a further boost for this thriving area, and another vote of confidence which shows Britain is open for business. These new cloud data centres will help our firms work smarter and quicker to become the world-leading businesses of tomorrow."