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Take-aways from Kickstart Conference

What are the previsions for the data centers industry? What announcements have been made? We share with you some insights from the 2021 annual strategy and networking conference on trends and investments in the European Digital Infrastructure.

Whoever had tried to make predictions in 2019 about 2020 has been overtaken by the unpredictable scenario of this past year, where the whole population realized how critical data supply is. Yet, the industry was growing steadily even before the covid-19 crisis, as shown by the presentation of Penny Madsen, Research Director at CBRE UK. Bigger and bigger campuses, hyperscale and build-to-suit data centers were already part of the landscape end of 2019 and investors’ interest was already increasing despite the technicality of data centers that was in the early years often putting them off.

All of this has been obviously emphasized by covid-19. The impact has been particularly remarkable in colocation data centers, as companies were adopting remote working tools such as Zoom and therefore needed extra connectivity. It is particularly interesting to note that companies are considering the long-term implications of the lock-downs and rethinking their work organization model to potentially include a permanent portion of remote workforce.

The conference also provided an opportunity to discuss and debate the opportunities for new European data centers hubs, in addition to the traditional “FLAP” markets (Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris) which are reaching a saturation level. Dublin is now being considered as a tier-one market and Garry Connolly, Founder and President of Host in Ireland (an industry-led initiative promoting Ireland as an optimum location to host Digital Assets), celebrated the fact we now speak about the FLAP-D markets! Second-tier data centers markets such as Warsaw, Zurich, Milan also attract more and more investors though at this stage we still do not see 100MW+ hyperscale colocation investment commitments.

On another hand, two announcements were made during the Kickstart conference:

The European Data Center and Cloud Industry launched a Climate Neutral Data Center Pact by which data center operators and trade associations commit to make data centers climate neutral by 2030. The measures to reach this objectives include 100% carbon-free energy purchase, water conservation prioritization, reuse and repair of servers and heat recycling. Among the signatories, we find big players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Interxion, etc. but also mid-size European data centers and colocation companies such as LCL, a Belgian Tier 3 data center operator.

Finally a brand new industry intelligence platform providing relevant info on data centers, suppliers and industry trends has been presented during this exceptionally online edition of the Kickstart conference. At the moment, data are available for Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. For example, we can find out on the platform that the three largest data center sites in Belgium belong to Kevlinx with 20.000 racks, Google with more than 10.000 racks and Interxion with over 4.000 racks and a capacity 15MW. DC Star (16MW), LCL (11MW), Colt (10MW) and GTT (4MW) are also important data centers operators in the country.

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