Atos wins deal to establish supercomputing Centre of Excellence in Wales

25 June 2018 6 min. read
More news on

IT specialist consultancy Atos has garnered a new contract in collaboration with Dell EMC to establish a supercomputing Centre of Excellence in Wales. The alliance sees the firms work with Supercomputing Wales to bolster the technological economy of the small nation, as it prepares for life outside the EU.

International consulting firm Atos is a global leader in digital transformation, and has worked regularly with clients to help them leverage new innovations in order to boost their business outcomes. Most famously perhaps, this saw Atos complete an Olympic first at the winter games in Pyeongchang earlier in 2018, as the Winter Olympics IT partner oversaw all the critical IT applications – including the distribution of results in real time like the Olympic Diffusion System (ODS) – be remotely managed and hosted on the Cloud. The firm’s high profile work at the showpiece sporting event came on the heels of an especially fruitful 2017 for its supercomputing offering as a whole, however.

In January of last year, Atos announced a major collaboration with the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Hartree Centre, which included the purchase of the first Bull sequana X1000 supercomputer system in the UK, and one of the most powerful in the world. The alliance saw the consulting firm drafted in to support a number of key goals of the UK Government, including the launch of a new UK based High Performance Computing (HPC) as a Service Offering (HPCaaS), and the promotion of ‘Deep Learning’ as a service (DLaaS); an emerging cognitive computing technique with broad applicability from automated voice recognition to medical imaging, in order to enhance high-tech business innovation amongst the SME community across the UK – an area which may provide the British economy with a much needed shot of growth, in the years following Brexit.Atos wins deal to establish supercomputing Centre of Excellence in WalesThe Bull sequana system was the source of a further contract just six months later, as the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) enlisted Atos to install the supercomputing model to support research. The AWE has been at the forefront of UK nuclear deterrence for more than 60 years. It supports the UK's Continuous At Sea Deterrent and plays a key role in national nuclear security, something which the supercomputer further boosted the AWE’s sophisticated scientific and technological capabilities in support of. Then in the winter, the world-renowned University of Oxford contracted Atos to deliver a new national Deep Learning Supercomputer, in order to enable UK academics and industry to develop and test deep learning applications and Proof of Concepts.

Now, further reaping the benefits of its perceived expertise in the field of supercomputing into 2018, Atos has signed a contract with Supercomputing Wales, the national supercomputing research facility for Wales, resulting in a world-first of the creation of an Atos and Dell EMC supercomputing Centre of Excellence. Under the agreement, in partnership with Dell EMC, through the joint Atos Dell Supercomputing Centre of Excellence, Atos will deliver a full suite of the latest in high performance computing equipment, software and services including a supercomputer, two BullSequana S Datalake appliances, and on-demand cloud-based supercomputing simulation and services powered by Extreme Factory, the HPC on-demand solution from Atos. The agreement also includes community benefit provisions by Atos and its partners including in-depth technology workshops for staff, and guest lecturers by Atos scientific community experts.

Supercomputing Wales

Supercomputing Wales, which is supported by EU funds, is looking to facilitate a sea change in supercomputing activity across strategically important sectors for the Welsh economy, as the nation prepares for Brexit, after a recent study suggested the heavily subsidised region would be hard hit by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Sectors of potential growth include nano-scale materials and advanced engineering; energy and the environment; and life sciences and health, all of which Supercomputing Wales will be keen to bolster via its contract.

Its contract with Atos will see the consultancy provide high performance computing facilities and big data research capabilities to a consortium of universities in Wales including Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities, while Atos will work to harness its industry leading supercomputing capabilities to help Supercomputing Wales unlock world-class research capabilities, and place the country on a firm competitive footing worldwide. The research capability will be available to industry in Wales and internationally, and is poised to help secure greater research funding for Wales from the British state, while simultaneously creating more highly-skilled research jobs, increasing industry collaboration and boosting sustainability. 

Professor Roger Whitaker, Academic Director for Supercomputing Wales said, “I welcome this exciting milestone for high performance computing in Wales. Supercomputing Wales, with its supercomputing hub facilities and new group of Research Software Engineers, is a unique national technological asset that is crucial to underpin our scientific excellence in Wales.”

Commenting on the agreement, Samantha Toombs, Atos Client Executive for Wales, said, “As a proud Welsh woman in technology, I am delighted to be working with Supercomputing Wales to bring world-class supercomputing and big data powered research capabilities to Welsh Universities. This is an exciting time for Wales, the country is already the fastest growing digital economy in Britain outside of London.”

Richard Rawcliffe, Vice President, UK Public Sector, Dell EMC added, “We are thrilled to be part of such an important partnership to help continue the great work already being carried out by universities across Wales. These universities are at the forefront of some exciting new technologies and we can’t wait to see what these new capabilities bring.”

Related: Atos and Siemens pump additional €100 million into joint R&D programme.