Key takeaways from DataCloud Global 2024

Jun 28, 2024

At the start of June, I had the pleasure of attending DataCloud Global Congress for the first time. Already having high expectations for the event, it did not disappoint. From a pre-summer sunny stint in Cannes, to eye opening, much needed discussions, this year’s conference has opened the door to addressing some of the biggest challenges our industry faces. I want to take a moment here to highlight three discussions, from our very own atNorth team, which centered on the rapid growth and far-reaching impact of digitalization. 

The race is on
The keynote panel set the scene, looking at the future of data centers as we strive to keep pace with AI and HPC demands. Our CEO, Eyjólfur Magnús Kristinsson, sat on this panel discussing the explosion in Big Data and what this means for data center capacity, location, sustainability and green compute. 

Traditionally, housing data and applications on-site or in close proximity was important due to legacy issues such as latency, redundancy and resilience. But today, thanks to vast improvements in technology, location matters for other factors such as cost efficiency, available space in a timely manner, and of course, the ability to meet sustainability targets. 

The Nordic region is AI-ready’ to meet these fast-paced requirements and ensure that AI and HPC workloads can run at the speed and capacity needed, while at the same time draw on the region’s sustainable infrastructure, deployment competence, abundance of renewable, cost-efficient energy, cool climate and stable power supply. 

The Nordics are made for high density
Anders Fryxell, our CSO, participated in a panel session discussing why workloads should move to the Nordics. Many data centers in the Nordics have been purposefully built to cope with the capacity, speed and instant usage required from HPC and AI, with no legacy bottlenecks. 

An early adopter of renewable energy, power is readily available at competitive prices in the Nordics — many energy providers offer long term power agreements which help to mitigate the risk of large fluctuations in pricing. The naturally cool and consistent climate allows for energy efficient cooling technologies such as air and direct liquid cooling. 

As digitalization continues to grow exponentially, there are key facets emerging that will demand more accountable sustainability. Legislation such as CRSD will require many enterprises to report on carbon usage and ESG factors, while increased pressure on power grids will result in data center providers having to provide both high-density infrastructure, grid support and of course, alternative power and cooling methods to remain competitive.

Sustainability is the future
Data centers are the backbone of the digital revolution and play an integral role in our everyday lives. We sit at a pivotal point in history, one which will see our industry transform the role of the data center to drive efficiency, scalability and sustainability. Our very own CFO and Deputy CEO Eva Sóley Guðbjörnsdóttir pointed to this in her session at the conference where she discussed the emerging trends that are quickly becoming mainstream. 

For one, the concept of heat reuse is already widely accepted and encouraged in the Nordic countries as part of circular economy principles, making many energy providers open to this process. All new atNorth data centers are equipped with heat reuse technology, allowing excess heat from the cooling process to be recycled in local communities. This generates more sustainable heating options and creates numerous job opportunities in the ecosystem surrounding the data centers. We know that businesses are looking for ways to actively improve their sustainability credentials, and we are already a key partner in helping them to decarbonize their IT workloads by moving infrastructure to our highly energy efficient data centers in the Nordics. 

Sustainability is the future of the data center industry, and the responsibility of us all to incorporate it into every part of our businesses, across the whole of the value chain. We must engage with all stakeholders from the communities to partners, suppliers, employees and customers to ensure that the environment is at the forefront of what we do to help shape the future of our industry and our planet.

Three: a winning combination
In conclusion, the surge in big data has significant implications for data center capacity, location, and sustainability. The Nordic region stands out as a prime destination for meeting these evolving needs, offering an AI-ready infrastructure specifically designed for HPC and AI workloads, and boasting a sustainable infrastructure with cost-effective renewable energy, a stable power supply and naturally cool climate. 

The Nordics’ — and atNorth’s in particular — commitment to sustainability extends beyond tick-box exercises to innovative concepts such as heat reuse, which support circular economy principles from sustainable power production throughout the value chain to directly benefiting local communities. For businesses seeking to enhance their sustainability credentials, relocating infrastructure to the highly energy-efficient data centers in the Nordics is a strategic move that contributes to a greener future while also meeting and exceeding operational needs.

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