Where are the current hotspots for ICT?
The global data centre market continues to develop at pace. The market is predicted to grow from 2017’s USD 14.9 billion valuation to USD 34.7 by 2025, with demand for data centres leading to new structures being developed all over the world. But where exactly are the latest hot spots for these data centres and other ICT industry activity?
Data centres in the Nordics are big business. In fact, the market in this region is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 7% during 2018-2024, fuelled in part by the high availability of land to develop data centres in this part of the world. Cooling systems play a major part in this market growth, with direct and indirect evaporative coolers as well as air and water-side economisers increasingly being used to facilitate free cooling in centres. Because of this, we can expect to see a boom in demand for computer room air conditioning (CRAC) and computer room air handling (CRAH) units. In addition, free cooling chillers with smart technology will become more widespread due to their ability to operate efficiently based on outside temperatures.
ICT isn’t the only sector booming in the Nordics, either. Renewable energy is taking off, with hydro and wind powers fast becoming the main renewable energy sources in the area. The availability of renewables is linked to the boom in data centre activity, with Iceland emerging as a data centre leader thanks to its availability of 100% renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, Sweden’s availability of renewable energy, along with its favourable climate, has led to a raft of new data centre investments in the country. For anyone considering their next career move in either ICT or renewables, the Nordics seem an obvious pick.
Ireland also presents plenty of opportunities in data centres, with investment in this area set to reach over €10bn by 2022. Investment into Ireland from data centres has tripled since 2015, with the nation’s ICT sector now supporting more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. Computer service-related exports are now the largest export sector in the economy, above pharmaceuticals and agri-food.
Then there’s the fact that Ireland is home to transatlantic subsea cables. In fact, Ireland has transferred data through cables beneath the sea since the mid-19th century, though today there are close to 20 active subsea cables that end in Ireland, including the 12,200 kilometre-long GTT Atlantic cable, which has landing points in the Republic, Northern Ireland, USA and England, and the new America Europe Connect-2 cable that has landing points in Ireland, Denmark, Norway and the USA.
Northern Virginia has long been at the heart of the world's data centre market, with cloud computing growth seeing wholesale colocation capacity reach 1,000MW in 2019. In comparison, London – which is the second-largest colocation market – has just 559MW capacity. In the middle of it all is Ashburn, an area known as ‘data centre alley’ thanks to is cheap power, strong connectivity and ecosystem of data centre companies. Equinix opened its first data centre company in Ashburn in 1999 and even where AOL ran its dial up operations in 1996. These days, technology is more advanced, but it still has the same innovative spirit, albeit on a larger scale. And for anyone looking to make a move to this area for work, the odds are in their favour: there are 250.7MW of data centres under construction in the area, with a further 316MW in the planning stage.
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