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The digital future looks bright in the Nordics

When it comes to data centres there is a lot going on in the Nordic region. Over the past five years we have seen a huge interest for the data centre industry in the region, due to the arrival of several global hyperscale data centres in both Denmark and Sweden. According to Peder Bank, Managing Director, Interxion Nordics, choice of location is closely connected to the strong connectivity hubs available for data traffic exchange in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Data Economy: What is the current state of the Nordic data centre market?

Peder Bank: The great supply of power from sustainable sources like hydro- and wind power combined with the cold climate makes the Nordics a great place for building sustainable data centres. Due to this and a fast-growing market in Northern Europe, we are seeing an increased number of hyperscale data centre projects emerging in both Denmark and Sweden.

However, to be considered a deployment location for hyperscale data centres, a strong power supply is not the only determining factor. The physical location also needs to offer a highly connected infrastructure, consisting of two key requirements. Firstly, a backbone fibre supporting the data centre’s connection to their other data centre deployments. And secondly, access to strong connectivity hubs, so that the hyperscale data centres can deliver and receive data between the networks, companies, internet exchanges and end-users.

From this perspective, we have seen Stockholm become an even larger and more attractive connectivity hub in the Nordics over the past decade. Stockholm is highly connected by several key internet exchanges, by strong carrier-neutral colocation providers and is home to the highest amount of network and cloud platforms in the region. Stockholm has earned recognition as a strategic gateway location, connecting western Europe to the rapidly growing Internet economies of Russia, the Baltics and beyond. This hub, and the synergies it creates for business, is attracting even more international business to Sweden.

At the same time, Copenhagen is also experiencing rapid development. The city contains all the ingredients which are needed to be a great location for data traffic exchange and serve as a gateway market. The five key components are an excellent geographic location from which you can reach 80 percent of Europe’s GDP in less than 30 MS, the presence of several internet exchanges, a lot of fibre, a strong IT service provider community and of course the presence of cloud platforms.

From a Nordic perspective, I see both Stockholm and Copenhagen having great potential to become crucial nodes for data traffic exchange competing with the traditional big four European markets: London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

DE: With cloud coming – how do you see the future of the data centre industry?

PB: That depends on if we are talking enterprise data centres or highly connected colocation hubs as the ones Interxion operates. Gartner recently stated that the on-premise data centre is dead and by 2025 80% of enterprises will have closed their internal data centres. Instead they will move to the cloud and/or use colocation.

Interxion is one of the few pan-European providers operating neutral colocation hubs. These hubs will in the future gain further value as ‘interconnection hubs’. In this way we will enable our customers to increase business agility and optimise networking strategies by interconnecting networks, cloud platforms and customer communities. In other words, Interxion will provide hyper-connected colocation services that will support businesses on their road to success.

In the case of the cloud, the ability to provide enhanced security, reliability and performance with a private connection will be crucial when accessing clouds like Azure and AWS. Businesses will want to colocate their IT infrastructure alongside the on- and off-ramps of the cloud platforms in order to enjoy the benefits of the public cloud without having to compromise on network performance. They will also colocate critical enterprise edge functions thereby overcoming networking challenges. This trend will become more apparent in 2019 and beyond.

DE: How strong an impact does sustainability hold for the future?

PB: Sustainability is close to Interxion’s heart and will continue to be so in the future. For more than 20 years Interxion has pioneered energy-saving designs and harnessed everything from arctic winds to underground aquifers to the Baltic Sea to reduce our energy use and thus reduce our carbon footprint.  Interxion is purchasing 100% renewable energy across Europe. That makes me proud.

Looking forward, I see sustainability as one of the most important trends.  Not only for data center and digitalization, but in general. At Interxion we have already committed to managing our resources responsibly. Being located close to the city centers in our cold countries it has been obvious for us to innovate to be able to reuse the excess heat.

In Stockholm, together with Stockholm Exergi, we are transferring the excess heat energy into residential heating. This is a perfect example of a technical solution that due to the cold climate makes the Nordics a great choice for building datacenters.

This article was first published in Data Economy Vol 9 – November 2018