Analysts are now looking ahead and trying to predict where Ireland’s burgeoning data hosting industry is headed.
To that end, Host In Ireland has released a new report in conjunction with Bitpower titled “Ireland’s Data Hosting Industry 2017.” The study, which was partially funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), closely examines the numerous challenges and opportunities that are being created in Ireland’s digital asset hosting industry.
This comprehensive report focuses on large, purpose-built data centers that are over 1MW in size. This includes hyperscale, wholesale and colocation data centers as well as private facilities.
Of note is the fact that in 2016, hyperscale data centers made up 75 percent of Ireland’s total digital hosting capacity. And €71 billion of ICT services were exported including products and services hosted in its data centers. Based on this data, it’s clear that Ireland remains a leading “Digital Gateway to EMEA for Global Commerce.”
In one survey of colocation providers on why they choose to host in Ireland — specifically in Dublin — participants mentioned continued investment in off-island fiber to the U.S. and Europe; six decades of association with Foreign Direct Investment; the city’s diverse and resilient fiber ring, the T50; pro-business fiscal policies; common law legal framework; increasing awareness within the Irish government for time-certainty on planning and energy applications; and a workforce that is educated and native English-speaking.
Another key advantage of Dublin, when compared to other European cities, is the proximity of managed services, colocation and Internet exchanges to Amazon, Google and Microsoft, all of which are based in Dublin. Ireland’s combination of hyperscale and colocation data center facilities is unique in Europe. The report also states that Ireland’s temperate climate has little to no effect on decisions to locate data centers in Ireland.
“Ireland has evolved as a Tier 1 hosting location to become the ‘Digital Gateway to Europe’ and the ‘Home of the Hybrid Cloud’ amongst other recognitions, as major multinational companies prioritize their online presence and aggressively launch digital-first initiatives,” stated Garry Connolly, Host in Ireland’s Founder and President. “The combination of Ireland’s pro-business approach, attractive corporate tax, common law based legal system, continued investment in off-Island fiber cables to the U.S. and Europe, and continued financial support for data center energy efficiency make it uniquely attractive to global operators, including international pharmaceutical, biotech and software companies seeking an optimal location to host their digital assets. Over the past 12 months, the market in Ireland has seen unprecedented demand for its product from colocation, hyperscale and wholesale providers, with similar demand only seen in Data Center Alley in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA.”
The report also predicts that Irish managed service and colocation data center providers will experience a minimum of 50 percent growth over the next six years. Wholesale and hyperscale colocation providers are anticipating a 100 percent increase over the same period.
Strong demand for Irish hosting, however, does not come without supply challenges. While the Irish government has recommended including the data center asset class in the Strategic Infrastructure Act, the value of including the class in the Act will be measured by the industry based on an improvement on time-certainty of energy connections and planning decisions.
Additionally, the report attempts to make a baseline of the size, by sustainability and category, of Ireland’s data center industry by addressing the scale of energy in use, requested and predicted between 2017 to 2024. In 2016, total energy use for all operational data centers in Ireland was estimated to be 1.40 TWh. The country’s total electricity use in 2016 was 27.6 TWh. In comparison, the world’s data centers used 416.2 TWh in 2016, of which Ireland’s data center energy use represented 0.34 percent of the industry’s total.
Ultimately, this report serves as a useful reference for policymakers who are looking to provide context to the growing global requirement for data centers, as a more “Connected Planet” becomes a reality. The document offers a comparison of different types of data centers, while documenting best practices and energy efficiency in data center design and operations.
“Data has a much higher economic value than the energy that powers it, and all stakeholders should recognize this when trying to evaluate the sustainability of the data center industry in Ireland,” commented David McAuley, Founder and CEO, Bitpower, and Host in Ireland Advisory Council member. “As ‘Ireland’s Data Hosting Industry 2017’ report indicates, collaboration between data center operators, state utilities and agencies, and renewable energy developers will be key to maintaining Ireland’s position as a Tier 1 global location for hosting and participating in the next wave of growth.”