Data centres may attract 20,000 firms


IF IRELAND were to develop data centres to support “cloud computing”, it could attract up to 20,000 small and medium-sized firms specialising in data treatment within three years, according to the vice-president of EU affairs at Microsoft, John Vassallo.

Mr Vassallo said Ireland could be at the forefront of “enabling technologies” which would attract investment into the State and could help to reduce energy consumption.

Speaking at a talk held by the Institute of International and European Affairs, Mr Vassallo said if data protection laws could be overcome, Ireland could become a forerunner in Europe for data treatment centres, operated by a third-party provider on a consolidated basis, from which smaller companies could access data.

This form of “cloud computing” would allow companies to access a range of data with remote software, cutting out the need to invest in expensive hardware to collect their own individual data.

This would lead to reduced environmental impacts and would attract start-up companies specialising in data-driven decision-making technology into the State.

“If Ireland proposes or finds a solution that creates something like a data-free zone, an area where data is given special treatment during the time it is being treated, . . . we could imagine that being a spur to the development of this technology and Ireland could be a centre which would attract many more of these investments,” he said.

Mr Vassallo added that Ireland was cited in a recent publication as “a beautiful place for a data centre” due to its climate.

Microsoft opened a $500 million (€367 million) data centre on the outskirts of Dublin last year.