Data center of the month

Mar 6, 2024

For the second Data Centre of the Month, we head north to Iceland – and north again from Reykjavik to Akureyri, where atNorth opened its 12MW ICE03 facility in 2023.
Published by Capacity Media 6 March 2024

Iceland as a data centre location makes sense logically.

Suitable climate? Iceland has one of the coolest average climates of any country in the world, with an oceanic location smoothing out extreme temperature fluctuations.

Reliable international connectivity? Iceland now has multiple submarine cable connections to Ireland, North America, Denmark and Scotland.

Sustainable operations? Iceland generates all its power from renewable sources, namely hydroelectric and geothermal plants. So power capacity and availability is not an issue – particularly given Iceland has no power interconnectors that would allow the exporting of electricity, like those that operate between Britain and Norway.

In the decade or so since the first facilities appeared, Iceland has become an attractive destination for storing data – both from data centre operators wanting to build sustainably, but also from clients under Scope 3 pressure. Iceland was already connected to international data markets by the Greenland Connect, Danice and FARICE1 cables, and the arrival of the IRIS Ireland-Iceland cable in 2023 added valuable redundant connectivity and allowed the Icelandic data centre market to reach the position it currently occupies – within the top 10 global data centre markets for sustainability and operator incentives, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s most recent data centre market comparison.

One operator that moved early into the Icelandic market is atNorth, which operates seven facilities across four of the five Nordic countries. This number includes two existing Icelandic facilities, ICE01 (originally Thor DC) in Hafnarfjörður and ICE02 in Reykjanesbær – and these were joined in June 2023 by ICE03, located further north in the city of Akureyri. ICE03 was completed and put into operation in June 2023, and offers 6,750 sqm of white technical space to Tier 3 standard. Round trip latency times come in at 18ms to Frankfurt, 15ms to London, 20ms to Paris and just over 17ms to Amsterdam.

The location of ICE03 sets it apart from the ever-growing number of facilities springing up in Iceland. Akureyri is around 350km from Reykjavik and does not quite enjoy the same tourist flows as the Icelandic capital and its famous hot springs. But staying out of the capital offered atNorth several advantages when it came to selecting the ICE03 location. Diversifying facility location makes for sound redundancy planning, especially in a seismically active area such as Iceland. And keeping one facility away from the Reykjavik hub offers a compelling advantage in terms of disaster recovery and enhanced security, meaning higher levels of data protection and business continuity for the companies keeping their data in ICE03.

As we approach 8 months of operational success at our ICE03 site we would like to thank the citizens of Akureyri for welcoming us to their town”, Erling Freyr Guðmundsson COO atNorth, told Capacity. Building a data centre in northern Iceland not only complimented our growth strategy but also offered a significant benefit to our customers who require geographical separation from our other Icelandic sites in terms of terms of disaster recovery and enhanced security. Already a thriving high-tech hub, Akureyri benefits from a skilled workforce, great connectivity and close proximity to Reykjavík airport — important factors for the success of our business”.

Akureyri, like the rest of Iceland, offers a steady and cool climate that avoids particularly harsh winters thanks to its coastal location. This informed the design of the ICE03 facility, which utilises both direct air cooling and liquid cooling across its 12MW capacity. In terms of construction, ICE03 went live following a swift 11-month build, from breaking ground to onboarding the first clients.

ICE03 was specifically designed to meet the demand for high performance infrastructure in the most energy efficient way, said Erling. The site benefits from Iceland’s cool climate, an abundance of renewable energy and utilizes state of the art heat re-use technology, which makes it highly energy efficient and cost effective. We also chose to work with local contractors and ensured the most sustainable materials were used for the build.

We are delighted to accommodate domestic and international clients at the site, including public sector organizations, managed service providers, and research and telecommunications service providers to name a few. The site will be expanded in due course, and we are negotiating with companies that are interested in reusing the excess heat – as is our strategy for all our future data centres”.

Read the complete article online here.

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