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Ireland has risen to be one of Europe's most strategic data center hubs, and with favorable tax laws and a large pool of young, well-educated workers, the country has attracted a formidable group of data center providers, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft along with several capable local competitors, including Equinix and Digital Realty.
In this Q&A, Tanya Duncan, managing director of Interxion's Dublin campus and 17-year veteran of the company discusses the burgeoning Irish data center market and the unique connectivity services that help Interxion's enterprise and SaaS customers tie together cloud and traditional data center services.
What has made Ireland perhaps the biggest hub for data centers in Europe over the past decade or more?
Tanya Duncan: Part of it is our geographical location. Some 20% of the TransAtlantic cables that go from North America to northern Europe land in Ireland, and that's an ever-increasing number given the proliferation of hyperscale data centers here. [Ireland] seems to be a natural trading point between the United States and Europe. And it helps that the connectivity is secure and the latency is low.
What other advantages does Ireland have to attract both American and European companies?
Duncan: There are several. I mentioned connectivity as one. There are the power sources we have such as wind and an established track record when it comes to sustainability. We have a renewable energy target of 40% by 2020. We also have a long history of high-tech companies investing in Ireland and a lot of that is tied to the government's pro-business attitude vis-à-vis the corporate tax rate. And we have a young, high-tech savvy worker base with skills [that] international high-tech companies are looking for. About 55% of our population is under 35 and a third is under 25. But we are as much a victim to the global skills shortages as anywhere else. So we also must try to keep up with the momentum and demand.
How will the new U.S. tax policy undercut some of Ireland's advantages?
Duncan: We are still analyzing what the implications for companies might be. It is hard to answer.
What technology advantages can you offer customers that your competitors don't have in Ireland?
Tanya Duncanmanaging director, Interxion's Dublin campus
Duncan: First, we are carrier neutral and provide connectivity to multiple carriers (Tier 1, localized ISPs). [We also] set up direct connections to multiple cloud services providers, so users have the choice of whatever cloud service provider they want. This gives clients more security, reliability and improved throughput and performance [versus] an internet connection from their on-premises location. We see ourselves as a hybrid facilitator enabling clients to utilize both the cloud and traditional data center services.
You've been following the issue involving the U.S. Department of Justice trying to access information residing on servers in Ireland as part of a criminal investigation. How could the outcome of the case affect your business?
Duncan: The implications of the outcome could be very far reaching. For instance, if you look at one of the more extreme possible outcomes, it could mean that you couldn't send an email between the U.S. and Europe because of the requirements that could come out of this decision. People are trying to understand the technology involved, the data and the legalities around it. I am not an expert on this, but I think they are looking at all the right things and hope they reach a decision which protects everyone.
Who are your competitors either in Ireland or in Europe in general for the services you provide?
Duncan: We have the hyperscale providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Then there are the self-builds, or the guys who build for the hyperscalers. There has been a big proliferation of the hyperscalers in Ireland. In fact, when you take the hyperscalers into account, Ireland is the third highest DC market in terms of megawatts in Europe. On the multi-tenant side the usual suspects are all here like Equinix and Digital Realty along with a few local players.
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