Businesses able to quickly reposition, adapt and redeploy resources fare better in times of radical change
COVID-19 has been devastating for millions around the world and has precipitated what could be the worst recession the world has seen. It has also massively accelerated the road to digitalisation. Microsoft’s CEO said he’d seen 2 years’ worth of digital change in just two months. The company’s virtual working platform Teams has not only seen a 700% increase in usage, but could become bigger than Windows. Relative new-comer, Zoom, has quadrupled its corporate user-base and has a stock market value four times greater than the 4 biggest US airlines combined. Stubbornly ‘physical-world’ activities like grocery shopping have gone online overnight, cash payments have halved in the last few weeks.
Not all these behaviours will stick, but enough will to make digital services, and the infrastructure behind them the growth industry of the ‘New Normal.’ This means lots of work for data centers, and demand for many more. Whether you are looking to move your own enterprise servers to a colocation facility, or whether you are a service provider or hyperscaler building capacity to service increasing business, whatever you think you need now you are going to need more very soon.
Finding the right partners to help you manage this growth is important. They need to have the land, the permits and relationships, access to abundant power and an agile and flexible approach to creating the facilities you need now and in the future. A combination of limited new supply, power availability and competitive pressure mean that many customers will find it hard to secure locations in largest European markets (also called FLAPD, denoting Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin).
Space to Grow
With such high levels of growth predicted for the foreseeable future, many data center customers are scouting not just for immediate needs, but for the next wave of expansion. It is far easier to select, negotiate and sign one deal for 10MW of space now, with a clause to expand to another 20MW within the coming years, than to be continually surveying sites and partners. Not only are there time and cost benefits of doing a single deal, but it leads to easier management and operations down the road when resources are located in the same facility.
Operators with significant land banks – and agreements and permission to build data centers – are finding it easier to secure new tenants. At least that’s what we are finding. Increasingly the deals we sign include options to double or even triple the footprint as part of the contract. With two new facilities under construction, and due to open in Q4, plus an additional 26,000m2 ready to be developed, we were well equipped to meet this challenge.
DigiPlex has an additional advantage. Its Nordic Connect platform provides a simple way for a hyperscale or international enterprise clients to ‘land’ in the Nordics at one point, be it Stockholm, Oslo or Copenhagen, and rapidly expand to others. Nordic Connect provides fast ethernet links between all of DigiPlex’ data centers across the region. Customers get the best of both worlds, they can be close to end users in key Nordic centers, expand easily where their business needs, and manage everything as one, under as single master services agreement.
Having the space is just the first hurdle. More servers and more storage mean more power. Emerging applications including AI, virtual and augmented reality as well as autonomous driving and other next generation services will require high performance computers. These will consume even more energy and create more heat.
Access to abundant power cannot always be taken for granted. Many of the FLAP-D markets are already struggling to access sufficient power. Increasing political and regulatory decisions about fair use of power will exacerbate this situation. Plus, those regions with warmer climates than the Nordics, must factor in the additional power needed for cooling. Low PUEs, the availability of ‘free cooling’ for most of the year, and abundant energy from 100% renewable hydro-generation, positions DigiPlex well to manage this requirement.
Business agility built in
One final learning from the COVID crisis is the need to be flexible. Businesses able to quickly reposition, adapt and redeploy resources fare better in times of radical change. There is no ‘one-size-fits all’ approach. Many of our competitors are large, global firms that have established ways of doing business and have little room for flexibility. Customers must fit into their templates and do things their way. We take a different approach. As our award-winning repurposing of our Fetsund data center and upgrade of our Ulven facility demonstrate, DigiPlex can rapidly adapt our facilities to meet the changing needs of our clients.
We build in a modular way so that individual customers can adapt, grow and shape their requirements. Our facilities are all carrier neutral and attract a rich ecosystem of potential partners, customers and suppliers. Nordic Connect provides options to locate in a ‘virtual data center’ that spans the region.
Sustainability at the core
The foundation of everything we do at DigiPlex is to provide our customers with the most flexible, cost effective and sustainable solutions possible. Growth and agile responsiveness cannot come at the expense of sustainability. The pandemic has accelerated many on their journeys to digitalisation. It is vital that as businesses, cloud service providers and digital businesses respond to this new demand at speed, they do not forget the long-term consequences of decisions made now. Data center contracts can last for decades, and the physical buildings far longer. As we enter the UN’s Decade of Action towards is 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, it is essential that organisations sign contracts that support truly sustainable digitalisation for the good of all.
Article written by CSMO Fredrik Jansson. Read more of his thoughts and insights.