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Posts from the ‘Data Centers’ Category

Earlham Institute in partnership with Verne Global

The Earlham Institute (EI) as selected Verne Global’s data centre campus in Iceland to investigate the efficiencies of distributing large-scale genomics and computational biology data analysis.

verne-global-data-centre-icelandEI, through Verne Global, will have access to one of the world’s most reliable power grids, delivering close to  100% geothermal and hydroelectric renewable energy. According to a story on Yahoo Finance, Verne Global “will enable the EI to save up to 70% in energy costs […] and with no additional power for cooling, significantly benefiting the organisation in their advanced genomics and bioinformatics research of living systems.” The power cost for EI in Iceland is said to be 40 GBP/MWh, which at current exchange rate is close to 50 USD/MWh.

One of EI’s goals is to understand crop genomes so new varieties can be developed to secure food supply in the face of a growing population and environmental change. In an announcement, Dr Tim Stitt, Head of Scientific Computing at EI, says that modern bioinformatics is driven by the generation of ever increasing volumes of genomic data requiring large and collaborative computing resources to help process it quickly and at scale. “At EI, we have some of the largest computational platforms for the Life Sciences in Europe and the demand for our computing capability is only increasing, putting pressure on the capacity and operational costs of our existing data centres.”

tim_stitt_earlham-instituteIn a video posted on EI’s website (also available on Vimeo), Dr Stitt further describes why moving their High-Performance Computing  (HPC) workload to Iceland made economic sense. To tackle the big data requirements of EI’s genomics and bioinformatics research in decoding living systems, EI wanted to explore the benefits of remotely managing its HPC resources. Mr Stitt explains that the Verne Global Icelandic campus provides an economical solution by protecting against energy price inflation over the next 10-20 years, with their environmentally friendly and fully sustainable power supply. In addition, the cooling is free and optimised design infrastructure is to reduce the total costs of EI’s scientific computing infrastructure.

This is obviously a very positive development for the Icelandic data centre industry. Which can be expected to experience rapid growth in the coming years.

Does Facebook not want truly GREEN data centers?

facebook-zuckerberg-datacentre_screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-18-14-02Two years ago, we where wondering if Apple does not want truly green data centers. Now we might ask if this also applies to Facebook. Because it seems that Facebook is in fact not to keen on truly green data centers.

According to an announcement published in last January (2017), Facebook is going to build a new data centre in the Danish city of Odense, on the island of Funen (Fyn) west of Copenhagen. At a press conference with local authorities, the California-based tech company said this data centre to be the companies third such facility outside of USA.

And Facebook’s director of data center operations, Niall McEntegart, was quoted saying that “the Odense data centre will be one of the most advanced, energy-efficient data centers in the world”. It was also stated by Facebook management that the Odense data centre will be powered exclusively by renewable energy.

This is going to be an investment of more than USD 100 millions, and will provide 150 jobs when operational (in 2020). But in fact this new data centre will hardly be powered by 100% renewable energy.

denmark-gross-electricity-consumption_1990-2015-with-forecast-to-2025_table-from-energinet-denmark_sept-2016Surely Denmark generates substantial amount of its electricity by utilising renewable sources (mostly wind). Also, Denmark has interconnectors with major hydro power countries, like Sweden and Norway. However, the fact is that very large share of the electricity people and businesses in Denmark consume, is generated by burning fossil fuels (mostly coal).

According to the most recent information from the European Union, (see table here), the renewable’s share of Denmark’s gross electricity consumption in 2014 was close to 45 percent. More recent information from the Danish transmission system operator (TSO), Energinet, tells us that the share of renewable energy in net generation of 2015 was close to 67%. And according to Energinet, even in 2025 fossil fuels will be an important part of Denmark’s power mix (as explained on the graph at left).

facebook-data-centre_odense-denmark-electricity-supply-mapHaving regard to the facts, it is hardly correct to say that a data centre located in Denmark, connected to the grid.  will be run entirely on renewable energy sources only. Obviously Facebook intends to buy so-called Green Certificates, which are a tradable commodity proving that certain amount of electricity is generated using renewable energy sources only. However, this does not mean that the electricity being consumed by the buyer of the certificate is from renewable sources – it might as well be from a coal power station in Denmark or from a nuclear plant in Sweden.

The result is that every data centre in Denmark, connected to the grid, will in fact be using electricity from all kinds of power plants, including for example coal power stations. If Facebook truly wants to run its data centre on 100% renewable energy, the company should connect the data centre to a grid that only delivers electricity from renewable sources. In Europe probably no grid comes as close to this as in Iceland.

Iceland produces close to 99.9 percent of its electricity by utilising hydro- and geothermal power (and some wind power). So instead of claiming its data centre in Denmark being powered by 100% renewable energy, Facebook should consider Iceland as the location for its next data centre in Europe.

Data centers site selection

Which are the main decision drivers when companies are selecting location for data centers? This was the topic of an interesting presentation given Mr. Phil Schneider in Reykjavík earlier this summer. The event attracted high number of audience, which is not surprising as the date centre service in Iceland has great possibilities for strong growth.

Site selectors guild

Mr. Phil Schneider is the President of Schneider Consulting LLC and Chairman of the Site Selectors Guild. The Guild* is an association of the world’s leading site selection practitioners. Guild members provide location strategy to corporations across the globe and for every industry, sector and function.

Phil-Schneider_President-of-Schneider-Consulting_Chairman-of-the-Site-Selectors-Guild-in-Iceland-Askja-Energy-Partners-2015-2Mr. Schneider divided his presentation into three main parts. Firstly, he discussed the most important general issues that dictates the choice of companies regarding location of their business units. Secondly, Mr. Schneider described how this relates to the location of data centers. And thirdly, he discussed the challenges facing Iceland in attracting more investment in data centers in Iceland.

Strong growth potentials for Iceland

The data centre sector is growing rapidly all around the world. This trend creates interesting opportunities for Iceland in increasing diversity in the Icelandic economy. Due to extensive hydro- and geothermal resources, Iceland is able to offer more competitive long-term electricity contracts for data centers than available anywhere else in the western world (in addition, the Icelandic electricity is 100% green power).

Advania-Green-Data-Centre-IcelandThis is an important incentive for locating data centers in Iceland. Furthermore, Iceland has highly qualified workforce for this sector and a competitive tax system. However, Iceland needs to consider its marketing strategy and must present the necessary information in a way that is easily accessible. clear, and understandable.

Risk factors and misconceptions

Although site selection for data centers aims at being based on a thorough assessment of all the variables that may be relevant, it is quite common that misunderstanding regarding risk factors becomes a a major decision factor.  According to Mr. Schneider, companies often jump to wrong conclusions regarding risk factors. In the case of Iceland, foreigners may for example have the perceived feeling that Icelandic is a risky location due to earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. In fact, natural risks are a less threat to business operations in Iceland than in for example most areas of the USA. In this context, it is tremendously important to present correct and accurate information to avoid wrong assumptions or mistaken image.

The Icelandic energy portal plays an important role

Phil-Schneider_President-of-Schneider-Consulting_Chairman-of-the-Site-Selectors-Guild-in-Iceland-Askja-Energy-Partners-2015-5In his lecture Mr. Schneider emphasized the importance of good access to clear and reliable information about the Icelandic business environment and the energy sector. He especially referred to the Icelandic Energy Portal as such a source, regarding data center site selection. In the coming months we, at the Portal, are going to emphasize even stronger the issue of locating data centers and storing data in Iceland. Note that Mr. Schneider’s presentation can be watched here (starts at 36:22).

* Founded in 2010, the Site Selectors Guild is dedicated to advancing the profession of international corporate site selection by promoting integrity, objectivity, and professional development. Members are peer-nominated, vetted, and must demonstrate a significant amount of location advisory experience. Guild Membership is the highest standard in the site selection industry.

Build, own or operate data centers in Iceland

The Icelandic national power company Landsvirkjun has published a new video, explaining how data center operators in Iceland are using clean, renewable energy to power some of the world’s lowest total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) data centers. Landsvirkjun is Iceland’s  largest electricity generator, processing around 75 percent of all electricity used in Iceland. Iceland-data-centers-well-connected-by-optical-fiber-cablesAccording to a report by BroadGroup Consulting, Iceland is a highly attractive place to locate data centers. BroadGroup‘s, analysis show that on the key issue of power (encompassing everything from costs to quality to regulation) Iceland scores higher than leading global data centre locations such as the US, UK, Sweden, Singapore and Hong Kong. The report states that  power costs for data centers in Iceland can be half of those in Scandinavia, and significantly more competitive than other European countries. And what is even more important, Iceland’s power costs remain very likely to stay much lower than other countries. It is particularly important that data centers constructed in Iceland have the opportunity to cap the prices for ten years or even longer for greenfield projects. Opera-Software-logo-Data-Centre-IcelandIn addition to the low prices, it is an important fact that the power in Iceland is 100 percent from renewable sources. Iceland produces electricity using exclusively hydropower, geothermal energy and onshore wind. These are sustainable, environmentally green resources with zero carbon trade-offs. This makes Iceland an ideal location for addressing corporate responsibility considerations. On telecoms, existing connectivity (Greenland Connect, FARICE and DANICE) are being substantially upgraded. Significant new capacity is planned to be added over the next several years. The telecoms pricing attractiveness and strong telecom connections are well illustrated by existing users in Iceland, such as Opera Software. You are welcome to contact us at the Icelandic Energy Portal for more information on building, owning and/or operating data centers in Iceland.

Verne Global in Iceland scores high

Iceland’s green data centers are receiving growing interest. They run 100% on renewable energy and offer the lowest carbon footprint in the industry.


It does indeed matter if a data center is green or not. According to a report by UBM Tech and InformationWeek, 22 percent of 100 executives said they regularly track energy usage in their data centers, and close to 60 percent of IT decision makers say the state of their data center is fair, serious or urgent, and at the brink of running out of capacity in 2014. For many of those executives and IT people, Iceland may be the perfect location for their data.

Small and large companies alike are looking for greener options. Adobe, eBay, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, Salesforce and Symantec have joined the Future of Internet Power initiative to showcase low-carbon power. IBM is heavily into promoting green data center design; the European Union Commission honored 27 of them in January 2012. EBay also has raised the bar by with its Digital Service Efficiency (DSE) methodology, which links how many “buy” or “sell” business transactions are completed per kilowatt-hour.

Recently, the GreenBizGroup listed 12 green data centers and co-location facilities that stand out for innovative cooling, green energy or head-turning designs. One of them is the data centre of Verne Global in Iceland. According to GreenBiz, the geothermal and hydroelectric-powered campus of Verne Global in Southwest Iceland calls itself the first zero-carbon data center. Among its customers are automaker BMW Group and the Climate Action organization.

Krafla_geothermal_power_station_winter_LandsvirkjunBMW is using the campus of Verne Global for crash simulations, aerodynamic calculations and other computer-aided design (CAD) purposes. This requires plenty of electricity, both for the transactions and to keep the infrastructure cool. By moving ten of its  high-performance computing clusters (HPC) to Iceland from Germany, BMW hopes to reduce annual carbon emissions by 3,570 metric tons.

What is no less interesting for BMW and other companies considering where to host their data, Iceland not only offers green electricity and natural cooling, but also electricity prices that are lower than anywhere else in Europe. Therefore, it is quite obvious that Iceland has excellent possibilities for becoming a leading data centre hub.

Green high performance computing cloud node opens in Iceland

Managed hosting provider Datapipe has launched a green cloud node in Iceland. The company has made its high performance computing (HPC) cloud platform available out of Verne Global’s facility in Southwestern Iceland, which uses 100 percent renewable energy.

Datapipe-Data-Center-World-MapDatapipe is an existing tenant, but its expansion is a reflection of increased data center activity in Iceland. Low cost, renewable energy, improved connectivity, and a location between North America and Europe add up to an enticing proposition. Datapipe clients have immediate access to the new Iceland node. It’s available through the same portal as its other locations in Silicon Valley, the New York Metro area, Ashburn Virginia, London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. “Iceland is a great in-between point with our U.S. and UK infrastructure, it’s great for disaster recovery., says Ed  Laczynski, Datapipe’s VP of Cloud Strategy.

The Statosphere HPC cloud platform is a high performance solution targeted at Big Data wokloads. Typical verticals that the company attracts are manufacturing, financial service, and research and development. The platform is API driven and utilizes all SSD storage with guaranteed IOPS (input/output per second) . Stratosphere can be configured with public or private resources, with up to 32 physical core equivalents per instance, a half terabyte (TB) of RAM, and tens of thousands of IOPS per volume, all residing on a 10GE network. It’s known as the most widely deployed Apache CloudStack environment on the market.

datapipe-logoDatapipe has been committed to using as much renewable energy as it can, and is finding that customers are increasingly asking for it as well. “As we grow new solutions, we’re seeing more and more green qualifications as a requirement to do business,” says Laczynski. “The kind of customers we’re talking about really do care about this; these are multinational corporations looking for sustainable solutions.” Recognized as a Green Power Partner by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 2010, Datapipe achieved EPA Leadership Club status in 2011 and is currently ranked #9 on the EPA Green Power Partner Top Tech & Telecom list.

Iceland-waterfall-1Verne Global offers a 100 percent renewably powered data center solution, which features access to geothermal and hydroelectric power sources, free-cooling provided by Iceland’s ambient air temperature and lower power prices that can be locked in over a 20 year period. “Power availability and costs are becoming two of the leading constraints for HPC clouds and clusters,” says Jeff Monroe, CEO of Verne Global. “Together, Verne Global and Datapipe are meeting these challenges with the first truly green HPC Cloud for the European and North American markets.”

Iceland as a leading data centre hub

Data-Centre-Operation-Cost-comparedIceland is a highly attractive place to locate a data centre and is positioned to become an international data centre hub, according to an independent study conducted by BroadGroup Consulting. On the key issue of power, encompassing everything from costs to quality to regulation, Iceland scores higher than leading global data centre locations, such as the USA, UK, Sweden, Singapore and Hong Kong. When all the issues are taken together, Iceland has truly become an extremely attractive location in which to site a data centre. Reasons include:

1.  All the basic factors in place

The reality for most data centre users is that they need all basic issues to be in place. This includes cheap energy and strong connectivity, and also areas as telecoms, power, reliability, taxation and business environment, and the legal/regulatory framework. According to BroadGroup, Iceland has these factors in place.

2.  Low-cost power

Iceland is also highly attractive in terms of differentiating factors such as power costs and availability, government support and incentives, and operating costs. Power is the biggest operating cost item for data centre users. Iceland is highly competitive on power pricing today, and can provide commitments for ten years or potentially more. Iceland power costs can be halve those in Scandinavia, and significantly more competitive than other European countries. Iceland’s power costs remain very likely to stay much lower than other countries, particularly given the opportunity to cap such prices for ten years or even longer for greenfield projects. Factoring in all data centre cost factors over a ten year period, shows the significant savings available in choosing Iceland (as per chart).

3.  Excellent reliability

Power reliability and quality are extremely high. Iceland has a long history with a key group of power-intensive users already (such as the aluminum smelters). Such users, including global leaders such as Rio Tinto and Alcoa, can have requirements of >400MW and have expanded their sites in Iceland due to the strong reliability and availability. These are users for whom an outage of more than an hour would cause serious damage, and have selected Iceland and expanded in Iceland due to its power reliability. For these businesses, there have no disruptions due to natural disasters since the first smelter started operating in Iceland in over 40 years ago.

4.  Base-load renewable energy

Icelandic power is 100% green. Iceland is one of few countries in Western Europe with large quantities of competitively priced, renewable carbon neutral electricity. Setting Iceland apart from most countries, it produces electricity using exclusively hydropower, geothermal energy and onshore wind. These are sustainable, environmentally “green” resources with zero carbon trade-offs. This makes it an ideal location for addressing corporate responsibility considerations.

5.  Good connections

Iceland-Telecom-Network-Latencies-MapOn telecoms, existing connectivity, Greenland Connect, FARICE and DANICE are being substantially upgraded, while significant new capacity is planned to be added over the next several years, enabling up to 30 Tbit/s of full capacity. In terms of telecoms pricing, large international users are able to negotiate prices which are comparable with transatlantic prices into mainland Europe. For example, Icelandic prices are close to the Telegeography Median 10G transatlantic prices reported in Q4 2012. The telecoms pricing attractiveness is illustrated by existing users in Iceland, such as Opera Software, which uses >50 Gbit/s of capacity. Furthermore, Iceland is ideally situated between the US and Europe, and is highly accessible with 20+ airlines landing on the island. Many of the Iceland data centers are also within a short drive of Reykjavik airport.

6.  High educational skills and modern European business environment

There is a high education level in Iceland and strong availability of highly skilled technical staff. A major issue for data centre users is how a location will evolve over the 15+ years of the facility. Some of the large, existing data centre locations are facing key challenges such as lack of land, power availability and the threat from natural disasters. By contrast, Iceland is rapidly developing as a global data centre location, with a highly committed, stable and democratic government and clear focus on the sector, and a legal system in line with the European Union.. 

7.  Positive political support

The Icelandic economy is strongly supportive of IT investment, and has particularly looked to ensure it is attractive to those looking to site data centers in the country. This has attracted an impressive range of global companies who already have data centers in the country, including Opera Software, COLT Telecom, BMW, Datapipe and the Joint Nordic Supercomputer. It has also attracted data centre outsourcing companies such as Advania and Verne Global. The Iceland government has also developed specific incentives for the industry.

8.  Low natural risk

Iceland does have earthquakes, but most are tiny (<2 on Richter scale). They also tend to be well away from the best data centre sites, and the electricity production and distribution infrastructure has been developed in such a way that it is not vulnerable to earthquakes or strong winds. Indeed, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions of the last decades have caused no real damage and had no disrupting effect on the services of electric power transmission, power production or telecommunication in the country as a whole and no effect on local services for the potential sites. A detailed independent study has shown that estimated risk from earthquakes and volcanoes is still relatively low, especially compared with places like California. Indeed, even New York State had 400 earthquakes with Richter magnitude greater than 2.0 recorded between 1700 and 1986. Iceland also has negligible risks from other natural disasters such as hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, wildfires and tsunamis.

9.  Plenty of space available

Iceland also offers two of the other key requirements of many data centre users – space and flexibility. There is plenty of space to build data centers of different designs, rather than being forced to use refurbished buildings or multi-storey sites. For example, land is available at suitable locations close to both the capital Reykjavik and the Keflavik International Airport. And there is flexibility to provide different solutions, from high-connectivity, purpose-built technology parks to sites that are close to energy sources and offer a green and low-cost option.

From colocation facilities to major internet giants

In the last few years, Iceland has been seeing new investments in the form of colocation facilities.

Iceland-green-renewable-askja-energyLong term contracts for fixed price low cost power, free cooling promoting a year-round power usage effectiveness, well-educated workforce, and several high-speed telecom subsea cables make Iceland a perfect location for data centers with a minimum of cost and complexity.

Verne Global opened its data centre in 2012 and has taken on BMW on as a major and expanding client. The Advania-owned highly effective Thor Data Centre hosts search engine Opera’s environment and the supercomputer used by the National High Performance Computing organizations of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland.

Gullfoss-eveningIceland is likely to attract increasingly more colocation facilities, offering equipment space and bandwidth for rental to retail customers. With plenty of renewable energy to spare, Iceland may soon also lure a major internet-giant to host its data in Iceland. Companies like Yahoo!, Facebook and Google have all been looking towards Iceland in this respect.

In next post we will be introducing an independent analysis of Iceland as a global data centre hub. This new study was undertaken by BroadGroup, which made a comparison using a wide variety of criteria with today’s leading data centre locations from around the world. The results were strongly in Iceland’s favor.

Opera Software chooses Iceland

Iceland is experiencing increased interest from companies overseas for hosting their data in Icelandic data centers.

Opera-Software-logoRecently, Advania signed an agreement with Opera Software for the expansion of its operations in Advania’s green data center in Iceland. Advania is a leading Nordic Information Technology (IT) company and owner of Thor Data Center in Iceland. This new agreement continues the ongoing buildup at the data center with a near doubling of Opera’s current capacity.

Advania-Green-Data-Centre-IcelandAdvania’s data center is arguably one of the world’s greenest data centers as all of the energy used at the site is generated from renewable sources and less energy is used for cooling due to the natural cool climate in Iceland. Opera Software uses the data center to facilitate web browsing for more than 230 million Opera Mini users around the world. Already more than half of Iceland’s Internet traffic runs through the Advania Thor Data Center, and this expansion is set to increase this traffic even further.

Opera Software was one of the first companies to seize the opportunity represented by Iceland’s affordable green energy and free cooling. This allows for an extremely efficient operation while still maintaining harmony with the environment since there are no carbon emissions from Iceland’s energy production. You can read more about how data centers in Iceland offer dramatic savings here.

Data centers in Iceland offer dramatic savings

Businesses overseas are turning to Iceland to host their data, making use of cheaper energy and natural cooling resources. Icelandic datacenters do not only offer very competitive prices, but also reduce carbon footprint and improve green credentials, as they are powered by renewable electricity only (from natural hydro- and geothermal resources).

datacenter-icelandA recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the operating expenditure of a 10,000 sqf data center in Iceland, over a 15 year period, is USD 130 million cheaper than running it in the United Kingdom or in Continental Europe. Thus, Iceland offers dramatic savings in the long run.

According to Invest in Iceland, a government body provides information to foreign investors, a fifth of data centre costs are spent on power. Half of that is used for cooling. In Iceland, businesses have access free-air cooling all year round and thus saving substantially on cooling costs.

In addition, the electricity is much cheaper in Iceland than in the rest of Europe. In Iceland, data centers are currently being offered power at the price of USD 0.043 (4.30 cents) per kWh, which is less than half of the price which is common in other European countries. This low Icelandic price can be locked up for at east 12 years, offering businesses a clear understanding of operating expenses in the long run.

Furthermore, while cost is one of the major factors attracting data centre investment and services to Iceland, carbon footprint is also an important driver for European businesses to consider Iceland as a location for their data. As European carbon taxes begin to bite, companies are looking towards Iceland’s carbon free data centers as a long-term option to demonstrate their commitment to green IT. Currently, three data centers have been constructed; the Advania, GreenCloud and Verne Global.

Iceland-Data-Fiber-ConnectionsThe Icelandic electricity generation and distribution ranks as one of the most reliable in the world. Thus, Iceland data centers offer 99.999% uptime, and power companies are willing to put that uptime in the contract agreement. Connectivity to the Icelandic data center facilities is provided by redundant, high-capacity, multi-terabit-per-second connections, including Farice, Danice and Greenland Connect.

Volcanic activity in Iceland may have the effect making investors reluctant to invest in data centers in Iceland and same may apply to businesses regarding hosting their data in the country. But the fact is, that large areas in Iceland have no volcanic activity and none seismic risk. In a nutshell, the risk for data centers from natural hazards or extreme weather are no higher in Iceland than in most other European countries.

Reykjavik-Center-WinterThe regulatory environment in Iceland is clear and is built on European standards (Iceland is a full member of the European Economic Area; EEA). Numerous agencies and local governments are willing to assist companies interested in investing. Our readers are welcome to contact us at the Icelandic Energy Portal for more information. You can call us at +354-863-8333 and/or send message through our contact-form.

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