Garry Connolly is president of Host in Ireland, an organization dedicated to promoting Ireland as an optimum location to host digital assets. I spoke with him about what makes the country stand out from the crowd. We also talked about how Irish customers stand to benefit from Equinix’s recent acquisition of TelecityGroup.
What are the key benefits of choosing Ireland as a data hosting location?
At Host in Ireland, we have been saying for many years that the growth in our hosting industry is due to Ireland’s unique blend of features – namely, the “5 Ps” (policies, pedigree, people, power and pipes).
Of course, power and pipes are a given in any location that wants to be seen as a world-class location for hosting. In Ireland, the two North America fiber cables installed in 2015 reinforce Ireland’s commitment to renewable energy.
But what is driving our sustainable growth and makes us different is our policies, pedigree and people. We are one of only two nations in Europe with both a data protection commissioner and a minister for data protection. We enjoy political stability, have favorable corporation tax structures and an outstanding data protection commissioner, Helen Dixon. Add to that the fact that data is written into the DNA of Ireland – ever since IBM came here in 1956 – and we serve as a very attractive location.
What makes Ireland unique as a data hosting location?
Ireland’s real selling point is that we are a globally recognized hub for the hybrid cloud – something we have become particularly strong in over the last five years. The trigger was the influx of multinationals choosing to locate their digital assets here, presenting huge opportunities for other businesses wishing to host in Ireland. Now, organizations can have their local data center solution as well as the ability to access hyperscale data from the likes of Google, Amazon and Microsoft as and when they want it, whilst remaining within the same sovereign state of Ireland.
With Equinix, that story is all the more compelling. Since the company’s acquisition of TelecityGroup, the Irish operation now has access to 145+ data centers across five continents. The scale and opportunities that creates are phenomenal. As the conversation shifts towards the value of big data mining to businesses, Equinix customers in Ireland are in a truly unique and advantageous position. They can access global markets, collaborate with hyperscales and reap all the benefits of colocation and managed services.
How can Ireland capitalize on its reputation as an ideal location to host data?
At Host in Ireland, we recently surveyed 1,300 Irish based multinational companies and asked them about their attitudes towards Ireland as a data hosting location. We found that only 20% of those companies host here. A large proportion of those businesses said the reason they are not hosting in Ireland was their lack of awareness of Ireland’s offering for the non-mega or non-hyperscale cloud providers. Instead of solely promoting the Googles and Amazons that come to Ireland to host, we need to start promoting the smaller and data-rich multinationals, from finance to pharmaceuticals, that are benefitting from locating their data here.
What does the future of data hosting in Ireland look like?
All around the world, data centers are going to act as honey pots for businesses that want to mine data. The magic is in the “data” rather than the “centers” themselves and that is what we need to now concentrate our efforts on: promoting the message of the hybrid cloud and how it can benefit not just foreign direct investments, but homegrown businesses as well. That uniqueness will be our great advantage.
Ireland is a Tier 1 location for serving business-to-business and business-to-consumer customers. But soon, we are going to witness a massive explosion in data generated by the Internet of Everything, with predictions that 90% of this data will be data-center-to-data-center. That’s where the opportunities lie for Ireland. We have been laying the foundations for the past 60 years – now it’s time to ride the next wave of opportunity.