Nordics at the heart of digitalization
The Nordic region, although a collection of smallish countries in Northern Europe, is an engine of digitisation with the skills, connectivity and experience to lead Europe, if not the world, in the successful transformation to a digital economy. Which is why it is attracting so much attention from hyperscalers keen to support innovative and fast growth digital businesses.
Nordic governments were among the first to explore how digital can help deliver better public services, and they still lead the world in eGovernment. Similarly, Nordic businesses were quick to innovate around the internet – look at Skype, Spotify, Nokia, Ericsson, Klarna… all Nordic businesses that have grown to dominate key aspects of the digital economy.
Ready for business
As a result, we have one of the most vibrant, tech-savvy, high quality workforces in the world. This provides a ready market for digital services and a deep pool of highly skilled talent to support them. Data centers are the infrastructure of the digital economy and the region also leads on efficient, cost- effective and sustainable data center hosting. From this privileged perspective I believe we have a unique view on the role data centers will provide in supporting the digitization of organizations and society.
Our market has evolved rapidly over the last few years. Even before the current COVID-19 crisis we were in the midst of a ‘cloud-first’ revolution where everything that could go to the cloud did go to the cloud. The demands of social distancing and enforced working from home have further accelerated and broadened this trend. More and more businesses are considering what can and should be made more accessible through cloud-based IT architectures. Hyperscalers are looking for fast and cost-effective solutions to providing cloud computing capacity close to these growth markets.
Lakes of data
But it is not just COVID, nor even the movement of existing IT infrastructure, that’s driving the extraordinary growth of cloud and need for data center capacity. 5G, IoT, Virtual Reality and autonomous vehicles will all generate petabytes of new data every year. In my opinion, it will be AI that becomes the biggest driver of data growth and 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 centers located at the edge of networks, close to devices and users. Other times, for example in drug discovery or the deep machine-leaning needed to support autonomous vehicles, AI can be located remotely to take advantage of lower-cost infrastructure. Some customers will want dedicated high performance computers (HPC) to run their AI, but many will select one of more of the options offered by hyperscale providers or opt for an ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service” approach.
Part of the value chain
Whatever route customers take the Nordics, and DigiPlex specifically, are well placed to help them. We see increasing demand for hybrid and modular data centers which combine HPC halls to host the dense GPU-based computers with facilities offering direct connection to storage, cloud and enterprise IT resources. Building and maintaining these disparate environments is not viable for individual businesses, so colocation data centers will become the primary site for these hybrid systems supporting the new digital economy.
Cost, latency and regulatory and governance requirements are critical factors and the Nordics provides compelling solutions to each. Abundant, low-cost and sustainable power, plus the availability of ‘free’ cooling most of the year, significantly reduces the cost of operating the high-performance computing needed for AI. Regulatory and governance requirements are also important and the supportive attitude of Nordic governments, plus the business-friendly culture of the region, are attracting many. Finally, DigiPlex specialises in creating vibrant, carrier-neutral marketplaces that link hyperscalers, customers and service providers together and deliver high-speed, low-latency connections across borders.
However, whilst data centers are at the heart of the digital revolution, to be successful, it’s crucial that data center owners are more than just suppliers. Ultimately, we are part of an extended value chain. End customers are not looking for a data centrer – they want help as they manage their evolving digital transformation. At DigiPlex we are focused on providing the best infrastructure for today and to be part of our customers’ journey towards digitization for success in the future. Partnering with our customers is important to understand their needs, but also partnering with a wide ecosystem of suppliers that can help deliver on them. A digitally skilled population, governments committed to a digital economy, and a cool climate are just three advantages the Nordics offer in this rapidly emerging world.
Article by Tim Bawtree, VP International & Hyperscale Sales
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