High-performance computing (HPC) specialist OCF is celebrating smashing the £20m turnover ceiling as it reaps the benefits of the government’s investment in supercomputing.
The Sheffield-based VAR was the subject of an MBO exactly 10 years ago, and boss Julian Fielden said the firm has since gone from strength to strength and is winning more public sector deals than ever before.
“In the 10 years since the MBO, we have always been profitable, but in the past couple of years we have taken a step up,” he said. “Last year we were £13m, but this year we are on target to hit £20m. We are moving to the next level.”
Fielden said chancellor George Osborne’s announcement last year that the government would increase investment in HPC has definitely boosted OCF’s coffers.
“There is no doubt that the HPC and high-performance storage markets are the ones that have held up the best over the past couple of years,” he added. “In the public sector there has been the attraction of high-quality jobs and adding to the research capabilities of the country as the government commits to academic research. Last year it found £150m in funding that allowed for certain projects to be implemented in a short time scale.
“However, the private sector business has been under more strain as people have not invested in infrastructure as they would in more forgiving times.”
Fielden said there were also internal reasons why the firm has enjoyed continuing success.
“We have always been very good at the technical side of the business,” he explained. “But about five years ago we realised that we needed to look at the delivery capabilities of the business as well and we have spent a lot of time getting the logistics right. Our business is SLA driven – expectations are clearly identified and a path for mitigating and solving any problems has been agreed.
“We are increasing our top line without increasing our cost base, and that is because we have remained a tight-knit team that works well together.
“Another reason is that we have our preferred infrastructure partner in IBM, and the market knows what we stand for," he concluded.
As a result, the VAR has won a number of significant contracts recently, including a three-year, seven-figure deal with Edinburgh University to supply 7.8PB of storage and an additional 19.5PB of backup capability for its HECToR supercomputer; and a stake in a £30m project with the Science and Technology Facilities Council and IBM in Daresbury. In addition, the firm recently completed a multimillion-pound deal to upgrade Southampton University’s IBM-based Iridis3 high-performance cluster.
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