With just about every aspect of global business becoming digital at its core, the demands for larger, faster and more efficient data storage have never been greater. Like all aspects of business technology, the data center market is evolving in reaction to this demand, with innovative new solutions to address a wide range of challenges, including cost, security, scalability, speed and sustainability.
One company that has emerged to set the standards for the next generation of data center solutions is DigiPlex, a company which has put fresh thinking, innovation and foresight at the core of its strategy.
DigiPlex is the Nordic leader in next-generation, environmentally friendly and extremely cost-effective data center services and solutions. Founded in 2000, the company set out to revolutionize its market by leveraging both the incredible geographic and political advantages of the Nordic region, then overlaying this advantage with best-in-class thinking about how data centers can and should be set up.
Location, Location, Location – Why the Nordics?
“US companies will increasingly host their data in the geography where it makes most business sense.”- Byrne Murphy, Chairman and founder
One of the unalienable advantages DigiPlex has over global competitors is its geography. DigiPlex data centers are located across the Nordic region, an area which boasts of its excellent fibre infrastructure, but also one which offers several other key advantages to customers around the world.
The combination of naturally low prices and recent legislation which nearly eliminated all tax on power also makes Nordic electricity very inexpensive. As an example, a US firm deploying 12MW over 10 years will save $100+ million just by placing their data center in the Nordics over an equivalent in the UK. This is just based on the difference in the cost of power.
There are natural advantages as well. Cooling plays a major role in data center upkeep. Many data centers based closer to tech hubs in the US or Asia must fight their own climate to keep their servers running. The cool Nordic climate favours extremely efficient and sustainable operations.
Putting innovation to work
“Innovation needs to be a collective state of mind. Embrace it and thrive, or ignore it and, eventually, die” – Byrne Murphy, Chairman and founder
The local advantages DigiPlex is positioned to offer are significant, but what truly makes DigiPlex a global leader is its culture of continuous innovation. With the goal of offering the greatest possible level of flexibility and trustworthiness, DigiPlex has consistently worked to introduce more and better high-quality products. The self-imposed pressure to innovate and update is relentless.
DigiPlex understands that once a data center is built, it’s already time to re-evaluate it. In early 2016 a team of experts from DigiPlex set out to make fundamental improvements to the energy efficiency and resilience of their live data center at Ulven in Oslo, which was been operating 17 years without a second of down-time.
The complex improvements involved creating state-of-the-art Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) by rebuilding the units in-situ, as well as modifying the chilled water pumps. For performing such an extensive upgrade and maintaining zero down-time, DigiPlex was awarded the “Above and Beyond Award” at the annual DataCloud Europe Awards 2017.
Illustrating how integral cooling can be to delivering value to customers, DigiPlex data centers also feature the company’s own award-winning design for Air-to-Air evaporative cooling systems. Leveraging the advantages of the cool, moist climate, this solution delivers natural, free cooling to the many thousands of heat-generating servers housed in each facility. The design works in concert with nature to save energy, reduce costs and decrease the environmental footprint.
Fresh thinking beyond technology
Truly embracing a culture of innovation, also means ensuring it’s applied every corner of the business – operations, procurement, design, sales, HR and especially financial growth.
DigiPlex projects are 100 percent funded by its own equity at launch, and this financial strategy is maintained until there is sufficient cashflow to attract debt on appealing terms. The Finance team is constantly comparing structures and securities in the capital markets from Oslo to London to New York and back to Stockholm, in pursuit of truly “value-added” debt.
In 2015, DigiPlex issued a publicly listed bond for the debt required to construct a new Norwegian data center, and did so before their first brick was even laid. This bond was the first of its type in the data center sector in Europe and, in fact, in the world. The issuance was oversubscribed and it meaningfully lowered the cost of capital. The innovative bonds were are primary contributor to DigiPlex Chairman Byrne Murphy being awarded the 2016 ‘Data Industry Achievement Award’ – an award which recognizes one individual who has made a significant contribution to the data center industry.
What global data center customers want: consistency and flexibility
“Our data centers have a 17-year track record of 100 percent uptime.” – Byrne Murphy, Chairman and founder
Data centers have become so essential to a business’ and to government operations that no Board of Directors or government minister wants to risk placing their mission critical data with a young or untested data center operator. DigiPlex has a 17-year track record that conclusively proves it is a truly international leader in the data center space.
DigiPlex centers are managed to comply with the latest International Standards Organization’s requirements on quality (ISO 9001), security (ISO 27001) and environmental management (ISO 14001). The continued compliance with these standards will ensure that the facilities meet, and often exceed, the level of service demanded by customers. Because the DigiPlex team manages all aspects of a data center’s life cycle, including financing, building, and operating the data centers, all DigiPlex customers have to do is accept the key and move in.
Being a consistent provider does not mean being inflexible one. Flexibility is one of DigiPlex’ core differentiators. DigiPlex enables its customers to grow their business as part of an interconnected ecosystem for critical digital operations. DigiPlex’s customers are companies which stretch across the corporate spectrum, from fast growing cloud players to leading financial firms. Considerable time is spent upfront with each customer to understand their strategy, to customize a data center solution which supports their particular business requirements, and to reduce their operating costs.
A business founded on experience and insight
With over 25 years’ experience of making and managing property-anchored investments and businesses in the USA and across Europe, Byrne Murphy, the Chairman and Founder of DigiPlex, started the company in 2000 after recognizing the need for clean, highly efficient data center solutions in Europe.
Throughout his career, Byrne has focused on innovation within the capital-intensive property industry. For the past several decades he has imported new, innovative concepts from the United States into Europe, from outlet centers, to private residence clubs and data centers. As an entrepreneur always seeking to create an energizing corporate culture that reinforces high performance, Byrne credits his success to what he describes as broadly American attributes of pragmatism, optimism and realism.
There were very few people in the industry 15 or 20 years ago who foresaw demand for data storage becoming this big, this fast. The consequence is that nearly all companies developed a pressing and rising demand for data center solutions. Predictably, as this escalated, operating costs became a key concern. That is where Byrne saw a compelling opportunity for a sustained competitive advantage by focusing on the Nordic region.
The future of data centers – balancing demand against the need for better solutions
“DigiPlex’s sustainability focus is integral to our corporate strategy. We are constantly incorporating green solutions and innovating to bring our PUE down even further.” – Byrne Murphy, Chairman and founder
There are a wide range of drivers that are putting data center solutions at the top of global businesses’ list of priorities. The demand for competitive solutions has been on the rise for quite some time, spurred on by familiar macro business drivers such as big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
However, the global explosion of the most prolific data consumers, smartphones and internet of things (IoT) devices, have accelerated demand faster than many people thought possible. According to IBM, 90 percent of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years.
In a world with ever-growing energy consumption and data generation, energy efficient data centers have never been more vital. In fact, the world’s data centers now uses more power than the whole of Britain, a level of demand that experts predict will double in every four years.
DigiPlex has positioned itself to address these growing demands, through innovation, location and a laser focus on its customers. However, there is another incredibly pressing issue that will soon become a central feature of all data center considerations: the environment.
Delivering a sustainable, future-fit data center solution
“Digitization needs to be a step on the way for the world going green. The data center industry’s current power consumption and emissions are not sustainable for the long term. This is a big issue that cannot be ignored, whether from societal or sustainability standpoint.” – Byrne Murphy, Chairman and founder
The data center industry is very solidly in the high growth stage, with robust margins and high-profile customers gobbling up more and more space and power. However, currently there is relatively little attention paid to the carbon footprint of data centers, and similarly little taxation or penalty associated with housing data in inefficient or power-hungry centers. DigiPlex is one of the few providers in the world which can offer incredible long-term insulation against future carbon-cost charges or bad publicity related to ‘dirty data’.
Today, data centers are responsible for 2% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions. If we consider the macro-drivers mentioned earlier, this is just a sliver of the impact our industry may come to have on our planet in the years to come. Businesses and the data centers that support them will both need to take responsibility for their environmental footprint, and very likely sooner than they think. Organisations such as Greenpeace, with their Click and Clean campaign, are raising urgent awareness of the impact of ‘dirty data’. It’s not out of the question to assume that in the years to come, governments will be pressured to introduce penalties and tariffs on companies and data centers using dirty power, making complacency even more costly.
In addition to a reduced need for power in general, all of DigiPlex’s data centers run on 100% renewable energy, which offers customers an extremely low carbon footprint. DigiPlex has the advantage of being powered entirely by clean and renewable energy. That doesn’t mean the company takes its responsibility for the environment any less seriously. However data centers draw their power, they produce massive amounts of excess heat. DigiPlex intends to continue leading the industry by recycling this energy back into the system and use it to heat thousands of homes. This would create a sustainable ecosystem which minimizes overall power usage and best utilizes the world’s resources.