Interview Frank de Fremery, Director at ACNiellsen Datacenters - "Brexit might have a bigger impact on decision-making then believed at first. It will be interesting to see which city will benefit the most in the next years."
What are you most eager to share with attendees at KickStart Europe and to learn from fellow speakers?
There has been a lot of M&A consolidation in our industry during the past few years with a result that a few key players are dominating the main markets. Their growth has come mainly from finding new customers and facilities in their existing markets not necessarily in new markets.
We have been discussing the push to the ‘Edge’ for a while now and this turns out to be more and more just a new buzzword. When receiving mandates to find new facilities, Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt are priority #1 and all other cities and countries are more or less ignored. Whether the movement to the edge by the big players is really happening or if there is still a future for regional data centers would be a very interesting topic to discuss during the Kickstart event.
What future trends are you expected to see in 2019?
The data growth is staggering and will be for the foreseeable future. To counter that demand we see a lot of new built facilities in the main markets and both new and established operators entering these markets. While some operators are constantly deploying new capacity, others are struggling to capitalize on the demand coming into that market. As first generation data centers are nearing the end of their economic life, we are seeing a constant battle between upgrading existing facilities versus new build. It would be interesting to see how this would play out in the coming years.
Another important factor is Brexit, as it might have a bigger impact on the decision as to where to build new data centers than a lot of people would like to believe. Whereas it used to be enough to have a center in London to cover Europe it turns out that a facility in mainland Europe is a necessity. It will be interesting to see which city will benefit the most.
How do you prepare for these new developments?
Space, Power and Connectivity are the key indicators when looking for the right locations. When such a site has been found the service provided (colocation) has become more or less a commodity.
Operators need to identify their niche market, which can be a particular set of customers or a specific geographic location to differentiate itself. This is not happening quickly in our market and to many me-to centers are deployed.
Power will be the biggest hurdle in the industry and can only be overcome by close cooperation between the government, utility companies, legislation and the industry together. KickStart Europe is the perfect place to discus these issues and together find ways to overcome them in the future.
What is the biggest challenge for your industry, looking at the future?
Data centers don’t run by themselves, they need IT and security personnel to stay operational 24/7, sales and marketing personnel to fill them and experienced management to make sure that the right strategy is deployed to secure the future.
While IOT and cloud for example are hot industries, the enabler of these services, traditional colocation, might not be. An educated workforce is a basic requirement for any data center and it is difficult to find the right skilled people to perform these functions. As a result facilities must be located in markets with access to skilled labor for many important functions, from security to technical IT and engineering.