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Ireland’s Data Center Market: It’s Looking Greener on Europe’s Other Side

Ireland on the Map

Ireland’s connectivity journey began three decades ago, establishing the fiber and telecommunications foundations necessary to compete as one of the most advanced and competitive digital markets in Europe today.

This foresight is part of Ireland’s digital DNA and has helped it become the fastest-growing economy in the Eurozone.

Data center headlines for the region are usually overflowing with news of construction, job creation and foreign investment. However, the official scrapping of Apple’s $1 billion data center in Athenry this month threatens to cast a shadow over the attractiveness of the region.

The tech giant had chosen the regional area largely to take advantage of green energy sources nearby, but three years of delays in the approval process led to Apple officially pulling the pin earlier this month.

The news came despite the High Court finally ruling in October that the data center was approved, dismissing the appeals that came largely from just two campaigning individuals.

Apple maintains that whilst the legal delays were disappointing, it would continue as planned to expand its European headquarters in Cork, and said in a statement that the “setback will not dampen our enthusiasm for future projects in Ireland as our business continues to grow.”

Athenry Data Center

Apple wasn’t the only one let down by the three-year delays.

In addition to Apple, some of the biggest names in tech including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook can be found on the Silicon Docks of Dublin.

This digital clustering has consolidated the city’s position as the “Home of the Hybrid Cloud”, offering a combination of public, private and hybrid data clouds in close proximity to leading colocation, managed services and hyperscale facilities.

According to a recent report, Ireland’s hyperscale data centers “represent about 300 MW of connected power, increasing to 760 MW over the next seven years.”

Why Ireland?
In spite of Apple’s hurdle in Athenry, Microsoft recently gained planning permission for four additional data centers at its Dublin campus at a cost of $1.07 billion. The tech giant stated the company originally chose the location to take advantage of “the naturally colder Ireland climate to cool the facility.”

Google Data Center in Dublin

Free cooling is said to have inspired Google’s data center murals in Dublin

Google also boasts an advanced cooling system for its Dublin campus, which relies on Ireland’s cool air to keep its servers up and running. An announcement this month to expand its Dublin facility at a cost of €150 million couldn’t have come at a better time for the region. The expansion will bring Google’s total data center investment in Ireland up to a cool €500 million.

Ireland’s climate is certainly advantageous but it’s just one of a long list of reasons large data center operators are attracted to the country.

Low-latency connectivity to the United States (44.92ms) provides an important bridge between Ireland and the US, which has paved the way for local businesses looking to expand. It’s also desirable for global companies seeking a European footprint.

Investment in the construction of data centers in Ireland each year is now projected to exceed €1 billion – reaching more than €90 billion by 2021. This is aided by Ireland’s continued economic growth, low corporate tax rate, common law system, and availability and support of renewable energy sources.

Across Ireland, predominantly in Dublin and Cork, there are now more than 40 data centers in operation.  With such an extensive investment in data center construction, this number will continue to rapidly increase.

Dublin Data Centers

More smile-inducing murals are set for Dublin as Google plans to expand its facility.

Domestic colocation demand is also on the rise. A recent Digital Realty report revealed that 26% of Irish businesses have already adopted colocation, with 25% evaluating their options and 11% planning to collocate within the next 12-24 months.

Whether you focus on Dublin, or look to the North, the reasons for Ireland’s thriving data center industry just keep stacking up.

Even in the face of the GDPR, Ireland finds itself in a promising position, as the country will be unaffected by the restrictions on the transnational transfer of data on EU citizens given transfers can occur among any of the 28 EU member states.

Energy Resources a Critical Link
The sustainability of Ireland’s thriving digital economy, like many other nations, is ultimately dependent on energy resources.

The same forward-thinking that seeded Ireland’s early adoption of high-tech infrastructure is evident in Ireland’s approach to energy – informing policy development, options for better integration, energy efficiency and best practice in data center design and operations.

This nation of just 4.8 million people is looking ahead.

Currently, wind energy is the largest and most affordable renewable resource in Ireland boasting 2,600 MW of new wind farms in development. Both Microsoft and Facebook have signed agreements with Irish wind farm operators to support their renewable energy targets.

Coupled with an equally robust solar PV strategy, Ireland’s renewable energy capacity will certainly help feed data center industry growth for the region in the years to come.

The Future is Green
The consumer thirst for data shows no signs of slowing down. The IoT is driving demand to challenging levels for service providers, and this will only feed the outpouring of investment in the data center sector globally.

Ireland certainly stands to benefit from connectivity and storage demand, and is well on its way to becoming a Tier I data center market in its own right. Things really are looking greener on Europe’s other side.

Want to know where Europe’s data centers are all located? Take a look via Cloudscene

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