Eric Boonstra is the managing director of EvoSwitch, a state-of-the-art, carbon-neutral data center in Amsterdam.
Many organizations across multiple regions are asking themselves whether they should move or colocate their servers. Cloud computing is a top priority for CIOs and many Internet-based businesses are currently gaining serious momentum. As such, many companies are looking to localize expansion in Europe alongside new branches and operations, which means that data center vacancy levels are falling sharply across the continent. What may surprise some however, is that Amsterdam is seeing the highest take-up among European Tier one markets.
This demonstrates a shying away from the traditional favoring of physical boundaries and data center hubs close to major business hubs, as many seek to benefit from lower overhead and access to the AMS-IX exchange.
Carbon Reduction Scheme Impacts Location
Of course, many factors influence the eventual decision as to where to host data. Locations such as London have larger markets than Amsterdam (London has almost four times the stock and availability) but can suffer from high energy costs and strict legislation. A recent survey carried out by the organizers of the upcoming Data Centre World 2012 conference appeared to show that the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) is responsible for a dramatic rise in energy management policies within UK data centers, but the legislation is not all good news. CRC requires data centers to measure and report on carbon emissions and then purchase carbon allowances. This essentially goes against the "carrot and stick" approach for making data centers more efficient, instead adopting a big stick to coerce compliance.
Amsterdam does not currently have such an approach. Of course, the argument could be made that the less energy-efficient would have an easier time in Amsterdam, but there would simply be no reason for companies to throw away money on inefficiency. At EvoSwitch, we are carbon neutral – not because we have to be but because it pays to be in the Netherlands. Energy efficiency should be just that, efficiency in operation, cost and every possible sense of the word. Energy efficiency = cost leadership. It’s a simple concept that many are still struggling to grasp because it sounds almost too good to be true.
Benefits of Location: Connectivity, Space and Green Considerations
The focus for those looking to localize should not be on avoiding penalties for failing to meet targets, but instead on reaping the benefits of being part of a cost efficient set-up with which ‘green’ contributions should fundamentally be associated.
There’s no denying that there are a variety of factors that can come into play when making a decision; factors that can "muddy the waters," but Amsterdam benefits from greater access to physical space compared to many major cities and, more importantly, is the closest city to AMS-IX, the fastest Internet exchange in Europe.
Legislation and taxes in other major European cities (such as London) place increasing price pressures on data center providers and only further favors Amsterdam (costs that are passed down). I’m yet to hear a stronger case for hosting data in Europe than the one for hosting in the region.
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