Q&A: Jeff Monroe, CEO of Verne Global

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Datacenter modulaesare stored in the Verne Global data center in Iceland, awaiting assembly into a finished data hall. (Photo: Colt)

Verne Global recently opened the doors on its new data center in Keflavik, Iceland, which is powered entirely by renewable energy. Working with modular specialist Colt, Verne Global was able to create a 500 square meter (5,400 square foot) data center in four months. The data center hall consists of 37 modules that were built in the UK and then shipped to Iceland, where they were assembled into a completed data center. We recently had an email question-and-answer with Verne CEO Jeff Monroe about the process of bringing this facility into production.

Data Center Knowledge: Verne Global announced its project in 2008. Despite some challenges along the way, you persevered and have begun installing tenants. What were the keys to getting the project completed?

Jeff Monroe: When Verne Global began the process of building its campus, we knew that there was a tremendous amount of work to be done to enable Iceland to become an attractive hub for data centers. Some of the keys that have opened the door for data centers in Iceland are:

  • 1. Installation of Redundant multi-terabit cables into Europe and North America
  • 2. Securing an ample supply of dual sourced renewable power from the largest power company in Iceland
  • 3. Long-term price visibility and predictability of that power
  • 4. Tech savvy, highly educated work force
  • 5. Legislative changes to tax code to bring Iceland to parity with other EU countries and ensure they are well positioned for the future growth of data centers in Iceland

Each of these factors was key to Verne Global’s ability to bring its data centre from concept to completion.

DCK: In addition to having a plentiful supply of renewable energy, your Iceland location also offers long-term stability on power pricing. How did you arrange this, and why do you think it’s important?

Monroe: While we can’t go into details about our power contract, we can say that we felt strongly that providing our customers 20-year visibility into the price of power was a key advantage Verne Global brings to market. Given how much power data centers require and the price volatility of traditional, carbon-based energy sources, providing our customers with the ability to know what their power rate is for up to 20 years is an key driver in terms of how they evaluate the total cost of ownership of where they deploy their data centre assets. We believe that Iceland’s abundant dual sources of renewable power and Verne Global’s long-term contracts with the power providers are a distinct advantage in today’s market.

DCK: There are a growing number of providers of modular data centers. What led you to partner with Colt, and what aspects of their design proved appealing to you?

Monroe: The flexibility of Colt’s solution is what led us to them in the first place and their common interest in efficiency is what kept us with them as we moved from concept to delivery of our data centre. They worked with us to ensure that Verne Global could incorporate all of Iceland’s unique advantages, such as free cooling, into the final design.

DCK: This is one of the first public examples of a deployment in which components are built in one country and shipped across the sea to the installation site. Did everything go as planned? Any lessons learned that can be applied in future expansion?

Monroe: The installation was remarkable across the board, from planning to installation and all the way through to operations. Verne Global brings a wealth of data center design, construction and operations knowledge to the table and this provided us the opportunity to collaborate in a way that resulted in the best product.That being said, this installation offers both teams an opportunity to learn along the way and improve the process for next time. Verne is able to benefit from Colt’s experience in deploying these units in data centers elsewhere in Europe and Colt is learning from their Verne Global experience and can make improvements to modular deployments in other locations. I am sure there are things we will take forward with us as we grow but we were very pleased with the entire process.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief 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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