How to leverage Europe’s data superpower

14 October 2020

It’s no secret that the increasing digitalisation of our economy imposes a massive impact on the way enterprises operate. With the digital economy comes an ever-growing amount of data, piling high over the world’s leading commerce hubs – both an asset and a challenging obstacle. According to research recently released by Digital Realty, Europe is the world’s enterprise data superpower and will continue outpacing both APAC and North America through 2024.

As the largest global provider of multi-tenant data centre capacity1, Digital Realty has a unique vantage point on how technology infrastructure is built, deployed and operated. Our customers continue to solve the most complex infrastructure, connectivity and workload use cases on our platform globally.

With an abundance of data-led industries requiring strong global connectivity – from technology, to financial services, and more – European cities created so much enterprise data that many are experiencing the ‘Data Gravity’ effect, exponentially attracting more data to the region. Digital Realty produced a formula which quantifies and predicts the continuous creation of data and applied it to 21 metros globally to produce the Data Gravity Index DGxTM.

The average Data Gravity score in Europe (48.45) is more than double the average across all cities worldwide (22.64). London, due to its highly connected financial services industry, is currently the most powerful centre for enterprise data in the world, with a Data Gravity score of 167.50, above New York City (79.61) and Tokyo (80.32). Other top cities in Europe include Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris.

But what’s truly intensifying Europe’s Data Gravity pull is not just individual cities, but the flow of data between them. Pairs of cities strengthen each other’s pull, due in part to the regulatory ease of commerce between each other, as well as thriving financial centres that integrate well. As more importance is placed on digitally enabled interactions worldwide, the data exchange volumes between these pairs will rise even further. The most prominent pairs include:

  • London & Amsterdam – London, a leading financial centre for international enterprises, and Amsterdam, headquarters to some of the largest international companies, exchange data largely for finance and trade purposes, resulting in a high level of attraction.
  • Paris & London – The two densely populated capital cities are financial centres with a diverse G2000 Enterprise presence, leading to huge amounts of data generation and sharing.

Even though Data Gravity creates a powerful data hub, the phenomenon can incite problems for businesses. For one, the greater the amount of data an enterprise needs to manage, the more challenging it can be to control and process. As a result, workflow performance is inhibited, which can ultimately stunt innovation and digital transformation. Second, the pull of Data Gravity can be so strong that it becomes difficult for data to travel elsewhere, hindering enterprises’ growth at a global scale.

On the operational side, stronger Data Gravity yields greater security concerns, as the huge amount of data creates more entry points for hackers. Costs increase too, as greater amounts of data require more capital to capture, manage and process it all. And to top it off, regulatory requirements add even greater complexity.

Enterprises need to be thinking about and planning for Data Gravity, which is why Digital Realty released its Data Gravity Index DGxTM. “Most enterprises and service providers are just at the beginning stages of understanding Data Gravity’s potential impact on their innovation, customer experience, and profitability, but they need to be designing for it now,” said Chris Sharp, CTO at Digital Realty. “The study is designed to give CIOs, chief architects, and infrastructure leaders insight into the phenomena causing architecture constraints as well as a blueprint for addressing them.”

New, Data-Centric Architecture

To defy Data Gravity, enterprises need to build new, data-centric architecture. Currently, IT architecture is constrained, unable to address enterprises’ Data Gravity needs, including: data exchange across multiple internal and external platforms, local data copies to meet compliance, and the ability to run performant analytics across each global point of presence.

Smart response to Data Gravity requires a connected community approach between enterprises, connectivity, cloud, and content providers. Enterprise architecture needs to be inverted and deployed at points of presence in neutral, multi-tenant data centres, securely housing enterprises and service providers separately, but in close proximity, to integrate private and public data sources. This strategy brings users, networks, and clouds closer to privately hosted enterprise data – rather than moving the data to those actors.

This transformation removes the barriers that Data Gravity imposes and unlocks new capabilities. Data-centric architecture powered by multi-tenant data centres enables enterprises to:

  • streamline their at-scale workflow by solving for coverage, capacity and connectivity needs
  • operate deployments with greater control as a seamless extension for their infrastructure
  • distribute workflows globally at data exchange centres to fight Data Gravity.

As a result, enterprises reduce risk through secure data exchange, lower costs by reducing bandwidth and duplicated infrastructure, and grow revenue via unbounded data analytic performance.

Digital transformation creates data – tons of it. Although European enterprises can benefit greatly from the buzzing hubs of commerce across the region, they could be smothered by the debris of the digital economy if they are not protected by the proper architecture. Leveraging the region’s colocation data centres provides the support and connection needed to make the most of Data Gravity.

Review more worldwide data projections, and how to futureproof your data-centric architecture in the full Data Gravity Index DGxTM report, here.  

1. 451 Research, Market Forecast, Leased Datacenter Global Providers, 2020.  Capacity measured in terms of both the number of datacenters and operational square footage.