Digital

Ireland as a data hub

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Ireland is considered an ideal location for data centres due to its cool climate, improving technological infrastructure and government initiatives. eolas reports.

Data centre services are increasingly being located in Ireland, mainly due to the country’s cool climate which allows for the buildings to be passively cooled, leading to huge reductions in power use. The fact that at least 25 high-profile multinational companies (including Microsoft, IBM, Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, EMC2, BT, HP and Vodafone) have data centres in the country increases its reputation as a suitable location.

The Government’s Action Plan for Jobs targets big data and cloud computing as particular areas for future employment. In addition, the IDA is seeking to attract cloud computing and data centre services to Ireland and, along with Enterprise Ireland, is also establishing a ‘cloud computing competence centre’ to promote greater investment.

A spokesman from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation told eolas that Ireland’s moderate climate “provides a stable and competitive location” for data centres and data centre-based activities because there is no tectonic risk and the opportunity to utilise cool air all year round.

The development of next generation telecoms infrastructure which will provide “direct and resilient connectivity to Europe, the UK and the US” and renewable energy resources are also an attraction, the spokesman explains.

He cited Ireland’s other positives as “the availability of a strong cluster of companies who can design and build data centres efficiently and cost effectively and strong research capabilities in key technologies relating to cloud, sustainable data centre technologies, analytics, business intelligence, sensors, high performance computing and data security in both companies and academic research groups.”

Ireland also has strong data protection legislation and a “supportive regime for the development and exploitation of intellectual property.” This includes an R&D tax credit, its 12.5 per cent rate of corporation tax on profits generated from the active exploitation of intellectual property, and a tax deduction in respect of the capital expenditure on the acquisition of intangible assets.

In addition, it is an English-speaking country and is part of the euro zone.

Microsoft’s first European ‘mega data centre’ was opened in Dublin in 2009. Its then Head of Infrastructure, Arne Josefsberg, said that Microsoft’s decision to locate the $500 million facility in Ireland was because “this is one of the best places in the world to build a data centre.” He said that Ireland’s prevailing westerly winds will drive air into the data centre which cools all the servers and networking equipment inside.

Similarly, Google opened its €75 million data centre in Dublin’s Profile Park in September 2012. A spokesman for the company said that the data centre “uses an advanced air-cooling system to keep its computers running smoothly, taking advantage of Ireland’s naturally cool climate.” He added: “As a result, the centre does not require costly and power-hungry air-conditioning units, which are still used in many traditional data centres.”

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Richard Bruton has said that Ireland’s technological infrastructure “is rapidly improving” and added that “cloud computing is one area where our climate gives us advantages.”

IDA’s Chief Executive Barry O’Leary has stated that Ireland’s “favourable weather conditions and extensive technological infrastructure,” including links such as the new East-West Interconnector with Britain, “will ensure that data centre operators continue to locate here in coming years.”

A 2011 cloud computing report by Goodbody on behalf of Microsoft noted that “Ireland is already a significant base for most of the world’s leading IT firms, and most of these have made Ireland a centre for their cloud computing activity. In addition, Ireland has a vigorous emerging cloud computing industry.”

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