Dublin Emerges as Cloud Computing Hub

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An aerial view of the Microsoft data center in Dublin showing the rooftop air handler units atop the first phased of the facility, as well as the vacant roof space available for additional air handlers as the remainder of the facility is built out.

Ireland has emerged as a key hub for the growth of cloud computing, hosting huge data centers powering the global cloud operations for two of the largest players in the sector, Amazon.com and Microsoft. Dublin also hosts major data centers operated by Digital Realty Trust and facilities for IBM and SunGard, among others.

Dublin has become a key gateway to Europe and beyond for U.S. companies due to several factors, including the city’s location, connectivity, climate and ready supply of IT workers. Dublin’s temperature is ideal for data center cooling, allowing companies to use fresh air to cool servers instead of using huge, power-hungry chillers to refrigerate cooling water.

This allowed Microsoft to design and build one of the world’s most efficient data centers, a huge facility that hosts the company’s cloud services for Europe and operates entirely without chillers. At 550,000 square feet, it is also one of the world’s largest data centers.

The Microsoft project also illustrates the impact of data center development on the Irish economy. It was one of the largest construction projects in Ireland in 2009, requiring approximately 1 million man-hours to complete and a workforce of close to 2,100 at peak.

Amazon Cloud Contributes to Growth

Amazon Web Services has also been a major force in the Dublin region’s development as a cloud computing hub. The company development opened a data center in Dublin in December of 2008 to house the European availablity zones for its EC2 cloud computing services. The company recently acquired a 240,000 square foot building in Greenhills Industrial Estate that previously housed storage for UK supermarket chain Tesco, which will be converted into a data center.

The company’s property moves reflect the rapid growth of its European cloud computing operation, which was chronicled by Netcraft in December. “Amazon’s cloud hosting now makes up more than a third of all internet-facing web servers in Ireland, with three times more web servers hosted than the next largest hosting location,” writes Netcraft’s Colin Phipps.

Many other companies also host data center and cloud operations in Dublin. these include:

  • IBM operates a next-generation facility in Dublin to provide IT services for the Irish market, and also serve as a global hub for delivering IBM Software to clients in 84 countries worldwide. IBM says the Dublin facility provides its clients with “massive internet-scale computing capabilities.”
  • SunGard Availability Services entered the Dublin market in a major way with its March 210 acquisition of Hosting 365, a managed hosting provider with two data centers in Dublin. SunGard said the deal provided it with “access to a new geographic market and proven cloud computing expertise.”
  • The world’s largest data center developer, Digital Realty Trust, operates a data center campus in Dublin, whose tenants include Irish telcom Eircom and ServeCentric.
  • Dublin also houses data centers for two of Europe’s leading providers of colocation and wholesale data center space, Interxion and the TelecityGroup.

See Data Center Map for more information on data centers in Dublin.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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