Atlantic Hub to establish northwest as centre for data and services
11 January 2019 | 0
When excess capacity exists anywhere, there is an opportunity to utilise it in a creative way. That is exactly what a new initiative led by industry veteran Brian Doherty is seeking to do.
Atlantic Hub is an ambitious initiative that straddles campuses in Derry and Letterkenny that will tap into the power available from the new Coolkeeragh power station, as well as the GTT North fibre from the United States, to provide the basis for a new data centre facility and service in the northwest.
‘The sites have the three main requisites for building competitive data centre facilities: power, connectivity and the right environmental conditions.’ Brian Doherty, Atlantic Hub
At a site now called the Foyle Port Innovation Park, adjacent to the gas-fired, 400MW power station, Atlantic Hub has secured 130MW capacity, in two connections, providing a robust and resilient basis for data centre operations.
Speaking to TechPro, managing director Doherty describes it as “a very robust, resilient connection — you arguably couldn’t get a better connection.”
Two brownfield sites, in Foyle Port and Letterkenny will then be supplied for both data centre and private enclosure facilities to provide services with less than 60ms latency to New York, 4ms to anywhere in the island of Ireland and 14-16ms to the centres of London, Amsterdam and Paris.
According to Doherty, the sites have the three main requisites for building competitive data centre facilities: power, connectivity and the right environmental conditions.
Atlantic Hub, says Doherty, has created a range of partnerships, including the one with GTT, owners and operators of the GTT North fibre, which “offers us the opportunity to be the fastest connection, effectively, Europe to North America.”
The initiative also enjoys broad support from Derry City and Strabane councils, and Donegal, said Doherty. It is also working closely with both System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) in Northern Ireland and EirGrid in the South to ensure power stability and continuity.
The cross-border nature of the initiative inevitably raises certain questions in relation to the current political landscape.
“We feel we have a great opportunity with the twin campus developments only 35 km apart. We can do availability zoning across an international boundary. Depending on how Brexit falls, we could be Brexit proof,” said Doherty.
Doherty believes there are key advantages for Atlantic Hub being situated in the north west.
Firstly, there are various civil and governmental issues north and south to promote the area for economic development. Secondly, the education systems either side of the current border provide a high quality of student emerging, who are well facilitated by nearby universities. Doherty said there are already cooperative efforts to educate those people for careers in the IT industry creating a stream of graduates, of which Atlantic Hub can take advantage.
“We’d like to retain those students coming from second level, get them educated and keep them in the north west,” he said.
Doherty believes that the two sites have the potential to create a tech hub that will be vital in offering attractive careers to allow people to stay in the area, enjoying a quality of life that has been overtaken elsewhere.
Currently outsourced technical services, Doherty argues, could be served more effectively and competitively from the northwest, than from the likes of the Asian subcontinent or the far east.
Atlantic Hub will be targeting companies that are struggling with legacy hardware or data centre facilities, anywhere on the island or throughout Britain. Doherty says that Atlantic Hub’s level of interconnects will allow it to compete effectively and provide services into anywhere in the world.