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The Significance of Geography when Building a Data Centre

As the demand for data centres grows, there are many factors to consider when identifying a construction site. In addition to the availability of power and access to multiple fibre routes, data centre developers must also consider demographics, road access and physical security. There are some other considerations that speak largely to the applications you are likely to host from an urban, ‘near urban’, or rural location, but we will come to those later.

Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin remain some of the most significant data centre hubs in Europe. This is due to various factors; banking – Europe’s largest capital cities are substantially charged with our international banking and trading services; demographics – these cities represent our more intense population centres with high demand for internet access, and all the associated media demands and services; Industrial and enterprise, large companies and institutions are often headquartered in these larger cities and again present hot spots for data centre and related services.

European, and certainly UK data centre operators often face the challenges of high energy costs, restricted power availability as it relates to future developments and of course a disproportionate reliance on fossil fuels. Even with these considerations the London Internet Exchange (LINX) – one of Europe’s most prominent internet access points – makes the region around the southeast of the country well suited for data centre development.

The Netherlands is a landing point for ten trans-Atlantic subsea cables, making it a strategically important location for data centres given its ability to bridge Europe and the United States. Amsterdam has one of the most important internet exchange points in the world, AMS-IX. For over 25 years this pioneering platform has been playing a crucial role rapidly routing global IP traffic whilst offering low latency for end users.

Paris is another key European city for data centre construction, somewhat owing to its connection to Marseille, the landing point for an extensive network of east-west subsea cables. At present, France is producing around 20% of its total power from renewable energy sources but is actively seeking to scale up this type of power production to 33%* by 2030. France is also offering tax benefits to companies that invest in renewable energy sources, which makes Paris a location well suited to data centre companies. The city is also home to several major Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).

Dublin is another popular location for data centre construction in part due to its geographical stability and its proximity to key markets and available infrastructure but more importantly it is driven by the demand created by hyperscale tech companies taking advantage of the very favourable corporation tax threshold available in the Republic of Ireland. Dublin also has access to large amounts of renewable energy and has a good climate for data centres, However, the country’s pressures on the nation’s energy grid system and capacity concerns have led to a restriction being imposed on the construction of new data centres in the greater Dublin area to the extent that these new facilities need to be designed  and constructed with generators providing primary power.

Data centre operators and large tech companies are increasingly turning to the Nordic countries as a location for their DC facilities. This region has the privilege of easy access to renewable energy sources and efficient national energy policies with 98% of Norway’s electricity coming from renewable resources. All five Nordic countries derive power through geothermal, hydro, and wind power.

When selecting the right geography for your data centre, it is vital to consider things such as physical access, demographics, security, power availability and provenance, climate and their interconnectivity. It is also important to consider latency and application. New data centre construction is evolving to support smaller edge type urban facilities for applications sensitive to latency, high frequency trading for example. Medium sized facilities are suited to near-urban locations where low latency is important but not critical and the much larger ‘National Engine Room’ type facilities are suited better to rural construction.

Securing a data centre location can be a challenge but given its significance in determining success, it is certainly worth the hard work and diligence.

Source: * https://renewablesnow.com/news/france-looking-to-boost-renewable-generation-with-emergency-measures-794306/

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