Data Center Spotlight on Iceland

24 Sep 2013 by Technology

"The tiny Nordic island nation of Iceland may soon have more to boast about besides its beautiful landscapes, geothermal pools and Björk – it could become the next great hotspot for data centers. Iceland already has many of the factors that contribute to a company’s decisions regarding where to locate data centers, including a cool natural climate and favorable business conditions. The next step for interested companies is to figure out whether its relatively remote location and connectivity options are up to the task of today’s data center servicesneeds.

Several high-profile data center, cloud computing, colocation hosting and managed services companies have invested in their Icelandic footprint in recent years, taking advantage of a reinvigorated business climate that has reversed the course of the country’s financial crisis which stretched from 2008 to 2011. RMS, a leading provider of catastrophe prevention and risk modeling services, announced that it is using Verne Global’s Iceland data center campus to deploy its RMS(one) service, which runs on the RMS Cloud. The RMS(one) service is primarily used for real-time exposure and risk management in the insurance industry, enabling carriers to underwrite policies and manage portfolios in an open-platform, green environment. Managed IT services provider Datapipe is providing its Stratosphere high-performance computing (HPC) cloud platform to assist in the ecosystem.

RMS representatives stated that the company is providing a global data center in order to meet growing HPC needs, which require power at a level that some current infrastructures cannot supply reliably or cost-efficiently.

“With RMS(one) running on the RMS Cloud we are giving our customers unprecedented freedom, business agility and competitive advantage by allowing them to execute on their entire exposure and risk management strategies,” stated Bobby Soni, RMS chief platform and services officer. “RMS(one) offers the industry’s first secure, reliable and scalable computing platform coupled with big data infrastructure, which streamlines our customers’ modeling, underwriting and portfolio management processes.”

Verne Global’s facility supplies 100 percent renewable energy to Datapipe’s Stratosphere HPC platform, which offers premium on-demand scalability and flexibility for large-scale processing ecosystems. The Stratosphere HPC supports data-intensive, energy-consuming services, applications and computing systems.

“With aging power grids and rising concerns about the environmental impact of data, Verne Global is thrilled that innovative companies like Datapipe and RMS are tapping into the abundant and available renewable power offered through our data center campus,” stated Verne Global CEO Jeff Monroe.

The Advantages of Iceland

The favorable climate, which lends itself to renewable energy, low cooling costs and potential for additional investment in disaster recovery services, is certainly one of the top benefits of colocation in Iceland. Forrester contributor Sophia Vargas recently outlined some of the other advantages and potential drawbacks of investment in Iceland data centers. The effective conversion of natural resources into renewable energy has long been on display in the country – look no further than the geothermal pools so popular with tourists or the hydroelectric power generation plants that pump 100 percent renewable, carbon-free electricity to Iceland’s residents and businesses.

In fact, there’s enough energy on hand that the country’s utility companies are conducting research into converting extra energy into finished products. Iceland’s location above the Arctic Circle provides natural cooling that further defrays the cost of energy. Iceland is currently exploring the installation of a 727-mile power cable between it and Scotland, according to The Independent. The move would connect Iceland to the European energy market, and could pave the way for other connected infrastructure between the island and mainland Europe. There are also cost benefits – the country’s economy has been on the mend since the economic crisis, growing steadily over the last two years.

There are some potential drawbacks to colocation in Iceland. One is location. Most companies have heretofore relied on regional data centers and are only willing to go out of their area if there are no facilities sufficient to their needs close by. Distance, coupled with the fact that many organizations would be unlikely to set up employees in offices in a relatively remote place, would require that operators take a more active role in facility oversight and developing stricter service-level agreements (SLAs), Vargas wrote. Iceland facilities could be used for the deployment of non-critical or business-critical applications and storage that doesn’t need to be in close proximity to the company. Iceland data center operators may have to offer more managed services than a typical data center and integrate more remote monitoring support systems into their facilities."

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