Thought Leadership and Insight from Byrne Murphy
Datacloud spoke to Byrne Murphy, co-owner and Chairman of the DigiPlex Group of Companies.
Datacloud: What are the biggest factors effecting the data centre industry now?
At present, there are a wide range of drivers that are putting data centre solutions at the top of global businesses’ list of priorities.
The largest might be broadly defined as the digitalisation of commerce. The demand for competitive solutions in this space has been on the rise for quite some time, spurred on by familiar macro business drivers such as big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
However, the global explosion of the most prolific data consumers, smartphones and internet of things (IoT) devices, have accelerated demand faster than many people thought possible.
Smartphones, especially when used for video streaming, require massive uninterrupted volumes of data. Device users are also becoming less patient, expecting content to load near-instantly. Getting appropriate volumes to users at the ‘edge’ is a both a technical and structural challenge.
This is also true for the rapidly expanding number of ‘internet of things’ enabled devices, all of which are transferring critical data at all times to and from central databases.
Datacloud: How is the market changed over the last 10 years and what is the biggest opportunity in the industry today?
There weren’t many in the industry 15 or 20 years ago who saw data demand becoming this big, this fast. The companies that were born operating online, such as Amazon and eBay were much more prepared, but essentially all companies developed a pressing and rising demand for data centre solutions. Predictably, as this escalated, cost became a key concern.
70-75% of variable costs of operating a data centre is for power. Providers who put efficiency at the core of their design and use less power, were much more attractive. Today, 90% of data centres deliver a Power usage Effectiveness (PuE) of 1.84 or higher.
This is where we at DigiPlex see the opportunity for a competitive advantage. Based in one of the coldest year-long climates in the world, we operate on hydroelectricity. Which in the Nordics is far less expensive when compared to alternative power sources around the world, such as coal or oil. This allows us to cool our data centres far more effectively and efficiently, however we are constantly innovating to bringing our PuE down even further. As one example, by implementing evaporative cooling on a large scale, we have been able to deliver PuE levels as low as 1.1-1.2 in some of our most advanced data centres.
The opportunity for savings in this space is compelling. Based on the cost of power alone, we have estimated that a company deploying 12MW over 10 years with DigiPlex will save $100+ million compared to an equivalent in the UK.
What's one of your goals for the next year and how do you expect to achieve it?
DigiPlex is already presenting the market with some of the most efficient and cost effective solutions available anywhere. However, we recognise the need to continually innovate and add value beyond occupancy costs. Latency reduction and data sovereignty are major considerations for international companies who see the value of co-locating, but need to see solutions that address their specific needs.
Therefore, we hope to drive down our PuE even further through new and more impactful engineering innovations, however we’re also confident that our track record and expertise will continue to create opportunities for new conversations and relationships. Data centres have become so essential to a business’ operations that few will want to take a risk on a start-up. Our 17-year track record shows we are a truly international leader in our space.
Datacloud: What do you think matters most in the development of the industry and its effect on business and society?
Today, data centres are responsible for 2% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions. If we consider the macro-drivers mentioned earlier, this is just a sliver of the impact our industry may come to have on our planet in the years to come. This is an issue that cannot be ignored, whether from a societal or sustainability standpoint.
Businesses and the data centres that support them will both need to take responsibility for their environmental footprint, and very likely sooner than they think. Organisations such as Greenpeace, with their Click and Clean campaign, are raising urgent awareness of the impact of ‘dirty data’. It’s not out of the question to assume that in the years to come, governments will be pressured to introduce penalties and tariffs on companies and data centres using dirty power, making complacency even more costly.
DigiPlex has the advantage of being powered entirely by clean and renewable energy, but that doesn’t mean we take our responsibility for the environment any less seriously. However they draw their power, data centres produce a lot of excess heat. DigiPlex hopes to continue to lead the industry by putting this energy back into the system, heating homes and further reducing energy consumption.
DigiPlex will be at the Datacloud Europe 2017 congress in Monaco June 6-8th.