With TikTok’s recent decision to build its first European data centre in Ireland, the country has cemented its status as the destination of choice for big tech companies building European data centres.
According to industry association Host in Ireland, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft own 26 of Ireland’s 60 data centres, facilities that host 77% of the country’s data centre storage capacity.
Referred to as “hyperscale” data centres, facilities owned by big tech users are often contrasted with colocation centres, where owners like Equinix or Digital Realty Trust rent space to multiple users.
While Dublin trails the “FLAP” markets of Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris in the overall size of its data centre market, it is Europe’s leader in attracting hyperscale centres.
Data from fDi Markets, the FT-owned greenfield investment monitor, shows how despite lagging other European countries overall, big tech companies dominate Ireland’s data centre sector.
Dublin was Europe’s fourth-largest recipient of ICT and internet infrastructure investments since 2010, with its 21 projects trailing 63 in London, 58 in Frankfurt, and 52 in Amsterdam. The majority of projects in this category were data centre projects.
But Ireland was Europe’s leader in attracting ICT and internet infrastructure projects from Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft in the same period, with its 14 projects ahead of 11 in Sweden, eight in Germany and seven in the United Kingdom.
Since 2010, Amazon has been the most active big tech player, announcing 29 greenfield ICT and internet infrastructure projects across Europe. Microsoft ranked second with 23 projects, followed by Google’s parent company Alphabet with 15 projects and Facebook with six.
Ireland’s success as a hyperscale cluster builds on Dublin’s status as one of Europe’s tech hubs, with a number of US tech companies choosing the country for their European headquarters.
“The highly educated, tech-savvy, multilingual workforce and the strategic location between the American and European continents are the reasons why companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have all chosen Ireland as their European headquarters,” said Garry Connolly, president of Host in Ireland.
Mary Buckley, the executive director of investment promotion agency IDA Ireland, told fDi that “Ireland is fortunate to have been on the ‘ground floor’ of data centre investment in Europe.
“The decision by the state to invest in telecommunications infrastructure in 1999 was a visionary one, enabling early internet adopters to locate investments here and then setting the scene for data centre investments by all of the leading companies in cloud infrastructure,” she added.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Ireland’s data centre industry continues to grow. Host in Ireland predicts that the country will see €1.13bn in data centre investment in 2020, with 12 facilities under construction and 26 in the planning stages.
It expects €6.7bn in investment between 2020 and 2025, adding to the €6.2bn that has been invested in the sector to date.
Outside of Ireland, big tech players have also ramped up their European data centre investments. Google announced plans in June to invest up to $2bn in Warsaw, Poland, to open a new cloud region following a similar announcement in May to open a cloud region in France.
In May, Microsoft also announced plans to open a new data centre region in Milan as part of a $1.5bn investment plan for Italy, as well as a new data centre in Poland, where it plans to invest $1bn.