Data centres can offer more than elastic resources

Maurice Mortell, Equinix, with Minister Leo Varadkar TD, in the DUB4 facility (Image: Equinix)

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20 June 2016 | 0

With data being billed as the new oil, data centres have become the critical infrastructure to support the new data-driven world.

Ireland now enjoys the presence of Equinix, one of the largest data centre companies in the world, thanks to its acquisition of TelecityGroup which had a significant footprint here. The acquisition closed in January of this year, which scuppered a previous agreement between TelecityGroup and Interxion to merge.

With TelecityGroup, Maurice Mortell was vice president of emerging markets and country manager for Ireland, and post-acquisition that minimally transforms to managing director for Ireland and emerging markets.

“Equinix’s approach is to work with customers to better understand how other users of their services, or providers who leverage the infrastructure, can help to improve or support what that customer is doing,” Maurice Mortell, Equinix

As the new regime settles in, Mortell showed TechPro around the 2,500 square metre DUB4 facility in Blanchardstown which was opened in September of 2015.

The Equinix acquisition has broadened what was already a significant reach for the Irish operation, providing a high level of interconnectedness, which Mortell argues is unique among competitors.

With 145 data centres in 40 markets on five continents, we are anywhere you need to be, said Mortell. But with this reach also comes the benefits of a broad ecosystem.

He said that data centre providers can be more than just platform, infrastructure or service providers. As they provide all of these, and connectivity across continents and others’ infrastructures, the good ones can also bring the benefits of partnership, nurture and cooperation for customers.

“Equinix’s approach is to work with customers to better understand how other users of their services, or providers who leverage the infrastructure, can help to improve or support what that customer is doing,” said Mortell.

Customers can be educated as to how others with a similar workload, business model or set of requirements, have leveraged what the provider has to offer, as well as being introduced to each other where synergies emerge.

This capability and approach is far from common among retail data centre providers, argues Mortell, making it a key differentiator for Equinix.

This is supported by what the company calls its vision of the interconnected enterprise, which it says enables it “to directly connect its employees, partners and customers to what they need, in the right context, using the devices, channels and services they prefer wherever they may be.”

Shared fabric
The company boasts more than 170,000 connections between 6,300 customers. This is achieved through a shared fabric that connects peers at 19 Internet Exchange Point (IXP) locations in 17 global metro areas, across Tier-1 carriers, networks, and ISPs accessible through IBX data centres across 40 markets in 21 countries on 5 continents.

Having the benefit of a global organisation behind it, the Irish operation can be seen in an objective light, and certain differentiators emerge. While enjoying the climate that allows significant use of free cooling, the cost of power also emerges as a concern.

Yes, the cost of power is higher here than in some of the other potential destination countries, Mortell admits. But, he adds, in light of all of the other advantages of data centres here, if for an organisation was worried just by the cost of power, then they might look elsewhere.

Mortell is also quick to point out that power costs do not matter so much at the hyperscale end of things. This is supported by the recent ground-breaking for the new Facebook facility in Clonee, county Meath that is now almost two and half times the size of the original proposal.

“It is not a big problem at the moment,” said Mortell, “but it is something we need to be careful of.”

On the subject of power, consumption, efficiency and environmental concerns are key issues for the company, said Mortell.

When initially opened, the DUB4 DC, despite being a multi-tenant facility where workloads can be as varied as the number of clients hosted, the expected power usage effectiveness (PUE) score was to be around 1.2, putting it in the highly efficient category, according to Uptime Institute figures.

However, Mortell admitted that such calculations for this type of facility can be complex.

Unlike web-scale facilities where there is often a uniform workload, PUE measurements for a retail data centre are not so straightforward, he argues.

“Customers often take space based on certain energy densities and projected requirements, but often they don’t use the full capability,” said Mortell. This can throw efficiency calculations off, meaning that PUEs are not necessarily reflective of overall performance.

Firm committments
Irrespective of such difficulties, the company has made firm commitments on environmental concerns, and uses certified renewable power.

From prior to the acquisition, the Irish organisation had been a founding member of Host in Ireland, the industry-led initiative designed to raise awareness of Ireland as the home of the hybrid cloud.

Mortell is highly supportive of the initiative, and sees the participation of rivals as a healthy outlet for competitive energies to allow Irish companies to compete for business at the highest levels internationally.

With a mission for the business to “amplify the message” of Ireland’s value proposition, Mortell sees the exercise as worthwhile, especially in light of current events. While he sees huge opportunities in data centre outsourcing, a potential Brexit could lead many large organisations to choose Ireland as a data centre base.

Mortell points out that there are already opportunities for Ireland in the data centre space with Asian companies, which could be amplified by a Brexit, as Chinese companies in particular look to get a foothold in the European market.

 

TechCentral Reporters

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