Lessons from Ireland

Lessons from Ireland

The Irish economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.  Ireland has a population of 4.9 Million people, and a per-capita GDP of 95,000 USD.  This looks outstanding, but the bald figures are a little misleading.  Ireland has been highly successful over past decades in attracting high tech companies to set up home in Ireland.  This has been achieved by offering tax advantages and creative economics such as setting up a free trade zone around Shannon Airport. 

Whatever that case the Irish economy is remarkable, and although many of the tax schemes it as used in the past are now no longer possible, Ireland has a great location as a Gateway to Europe, and educated population with strong IT experience.  The companies that now have R&D offices in Ireland are inclined to stay there.

Building on all this, providing data centre services in Ireland is merely a natural evolution: Ireland is keeping up with technology and making a good job of it.  There may well be a Brexit-benefit for Wales if those companies feel the need to host data within the UK. 

Wales should be at the forefront of bidding for such business, emphasising the strong connectivity previously described between Wales and Ireland

Host in Ireland

Host in Ireland is an industry funded body that promotes data centres in Ireland. Host in Ireland publishes a bi-annual market report (registration required) 

According to the 2021 spring report, Ireland has 70 operational data centres with a further 8 under construction.  The combined power usage of these operational data centre adds up 900 MWatt, which is impressive by any count: Ireland continues to punch significantly above its weight in the data centre sector as it has in IT.   Most of the data centres are concentrated in the Dublin Metropolitan area. Dublin benefits from excellent international connectivity, with submarine cables to the Americas, the UK, Europe 

Host in Ireland promotes Ireland’s advantages in terms of “Six P’s”, these being Policy, People, Pedigree, Proximity, Pipes and Power.  See the above link for Host in Ireland’s account of these concepts.

The six 'Ps' are (source: Host in Ireland)

  • Policy: Ireland applies a pragmatic, pro-business approach to policy issues including data protection and IP with a competitive corporate tax structure.
  • People: Ireland's readily available workforce is highly educated, experienced, tech-savvy, multifaceted and multilingual with 40% of the population under the age of 30.
  • Pedigree: Ireland is the European "home" for over 1,000 global companies including more than 750 U.S.-based organizations.
  • Proximity is a word often used now in the datacentre arena. Datacentres creating a cluster, and being close in proximity to each other is a key component of what we're seeing as a sustainable differentiator in Dublin.
  • Pipes: Situated on the axis between the American and European continents, Ireland has a superior strategic global position to provide secure and resilient low-latency global connectivity.
  • Power: Ireland is investing significantly in its renewable energy resources, making strides towards a future of cleaner and more affordable power options and commitment to 70% of energy from renewables by 2030.

Arguably, Wales should stack up well against these criteria, but often falls short.  Wales could claim to have a highly educated IT workforce for example, but in practice IT jobs in the UK are largely based in England, and many of our young IT professionals end up there.  

One where Wales does not do well is ‘Pedigree’ which refers to Irelands success in attracting and maintaining significant inward investment in IT from overseas, and consequently enjoys a good reputation and an experienced workforce.  Wales has a more checkered history; the Vantage data centre in Newport itself illustrates the point.  The building it is in was originally built as a semi-conductor plant for LG, who soon pulled out.  The building then changed hands a number of times.  Its current incarnation as a data centre is a real asset to Wales, and should be recognised as such.

Meanwhile, Ireland has 3% of the European data centre market, but only 1% of its population.  Ireland continues to punch above its weight!