Why data-centres think Ireland is cool

The cost of keeping data-storage centres cool can be high which is one reason, along with its central geographical position, why such companies are attracted to Ireland

Setting store: companies such as Google are tempted, by various benefits, to locate data-storage centres in Ireland

Setting store: companies such as Google are tempted, by various benefits, to locate data-storage centres in Ireland

Sat, Apr 27, 2013, 15:23

Ireland’s less than tropical climate may test its inhabitants, but there is at least one thing it is ideal for: data centres.

Our temperate weather has led to a number of data centres being built around the country, to meet rapidly growing demand for electronic storage.

One of the biggest ongoing costs for data centres is power, to keep the servers running and the equipment cool.

“Although we chuckle about the weather here in Ireland, the downside is that you don’t get a lot of sun each day, but the upside is that it’s a very temperate climate for keeping your data centre cool and not having to run your electricity bills. Therefore it can be cost-effective,” says Doug Loewe of Interxion. “This concept of free cooling is very important in companies making a decision about where to locate their data centre.”

It has certainly had an impact recently. Ireland has had the fastest growth in the region for data-centre use, according to Oracle Technology, overtaking France, Italy and the Middle East.

And the sophistication of the facilities is also on the rise, with Ireland scoring well on data-centre sustainability and improved energy efficiency.

This has tempted Amazon, Google and Microsoft to locate operations here, along with Telecity and Interxion. Last year Google opened a €75 million data centre in Dublin, and Microsoft announced it would expand the data centre that it opened in 2009. Both firms are using their Irish centres for international operations.

When Telecity, which is based in the UK, acquired Data Electronics in 2011 for €100 million, it also snapped up its ecofriendly data centre in north Dublin, where the company had invested about €40 million in the initial set-up and subsequent expansion.

The data centres are a significant investment for the companies, and although they don’t necessarily employ a lot of people – many data-centre operations are automated – they do have knock-on benefits for the economy.

“US-headquartered companies feel comfortable about establishing their data centre, if not their European HQ, in Ireland. That still seems to be a resonating theme,” says Loewe.

The climate isn’t the only important factor. It is vital to have the right infrastructure to allow data centres to connect to as many networks as possible. “It’s imperative in the data-centre industry to have connectivity from multiple carriers,” says Loewe. “You can build a wonderful data centre, but if it’s not connected, you fail miserably.”

Ireland’s location means it is ideally served in this respect. “Ireland has an enviable list of carriers, and customers are able to get connected and be live and available in days rather than weeks or months,” he says.

The talent pool available here to staff the centres, the ability to keep facilities secure, and lower costs than other suitable areas in the euro zone also help make Ireland look like a good bet for data centres.

“Mass attracts mass. There was already a more than adequate infrastructure in the metro Dublin area in the past few years, but now it’s been enhanced,” says Loewe. “Ireland is open for business.”

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