Thought Leadership and Insight from our CEO

19 November 2019
Ahead of DCN 2019, Gisle M. Eckhoff talks openly with Broadgroup about goals for 2020, HPC & new sites.
Thought Leadership and Insight from our CEO

Article published online 11 November 2019

1. What are the current trends and challenges for data centres in the Nordic region?
Currently, we are in a ‘cloud-first’ phase where businesses are moving everything that can be moved to the cloud. However, even in a cloud-first environment, some key applications and data will always need to be hosted locally for technical, security or regulatory considerations. The emergence of hybrid and multi-cloud strategies is already driving increased requirement for data centre capacity as organisations want the combination of dedicated local infrastructure, the ability to keep data within specific jurisdictions, plus direct connections to the cloud, as we have in our data centres.

The opportunity for colocation data centres in the Nordics is that they can meet these requirements in cost effective and sustainable ways – the challenge is to remain flexible to customers’ ever-evolving requirements.

2. What do you see as the future drivers for the industry in the Nordics?
The twin challenges of increased environmental scrutiny and demand for ever more computing power will continue to drive the industry in the Nordics. Climate change has become climate crisis and we can expect ever more scrutiny from politicians, the public, and customers over the significant power consumption of data centres.

At the same time, innovations such as High-Performance Compute (HPC) will drive demand for ever more density and the rising power-consumption and cooling challenges that entails.

However, we are well placed to meet these challenges. The Nordics have led the world not only in cold-climate cooling technologies, but in the use of 100% renewable and sustainable energy sources. Whilst other regions and indeed other operators are just waking up and learning about sustainability, we have been practicing it for decades.

They will learn from us, but we need to maintain our leadership by pressing forward with new technologies, approaches and solutions to continue to be world-beating and planet-saving.

3. What will be the main drivers of data growth in the coming decade?
5G, IoT, Virtual Reality and autonomous vehicles will all generate petabytes of new data every year. But, in my opinion, it is AI, artificial intelligence, that will be the biggest driver of data growth and data usage in the coming decade. Suddenly organisations of all sizes and all types are looking to AI to inform strategy, develop new products and serve customers in innovative ways.

AI draws on vast lakes of data, analyses it and delivers new outputs. Sometimes this needs to be done almost instantaneously, and this will drive demand for more data centres located at the edge of networks, close to devices and users. Other times, for example in drug discovery, AI can be located remotely to take advantage of lower-cost infrastructure.

AI will also drive more hybrid and modular data centre resources. HPC halls may host the dense GPU-based compute resources whilst adjacent facilities can offer storage, cloud and enterprise IT resources. Building and maintaining these disparate environments is not viable for individual businesses, so colocation data centres will become the primary site for these hybrid systems supporting AI. In the Nordic region we have the environment, the sustainable, low-cost power, the political stability and the business experience to become a major location for these facilities. DigiPlex is well placed to help businesses make the most of these advantages with sufficient land, an unsurpassed track record in sustainability and a flexible modular design concept.

4. What is one of your goals for the next year and how do you expect to achieve it?
Last month (September 2019) we announced two new data centres in Norway, at Fetsund and Hobøl. Together they will deliver 8,500 m² of new facility space. Much of this has already been reserved for international customers who are increasingly choosing the Nordics. So, my primary goal for 2020 is to complete these new facilities on time in Q4.

At the same time, the plot that we own in Hobøl has space for five more data centres of similar size. We are already speaking to domestic and international customers with a view to continuing to expand our capacity and footprint, whilst constructing flexible, modular facilities that meet the changing requirements of the technology and our customers.

With close to 20 years’ experience, and a single, persistent focus on this marketplace, we have exactly what we need to succeed in these goals.

Gisle will be at Datacloud Nordic in Copenhagen on 3 December. Meet him there.

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