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Iceland Now a Data Center Relocation Hotspot

Thanks to the country’s abundant renewable energy sources and cool climate, Iceland has emerged over the past few years as one of the top data center relocation spots in the world. As latency concerns begin to dissipate, the nation will further increase its standing as an ideal place for a data center.

Because Iceland straddles two tectonic plates, it is able to harness geothermal energy. Plus, the country’s rivers help to provide the nation’s inhabitants with ample supplies of hydroelectric power. Thanks primarily to these two energy sources, parts of Iceland now have all electricity needs met by renewable sources, according to Forrester analyst Sophia Vargas. As more companies look to embark on green initiatives, this aspect becomes an even stronger selling point.

Further boosting Iceland’s standing as a green IT hub is the ease with which a data center can use alternative cooling techniques to keep equipment at ideal temperatures at all times. Vargas wrote that Iceland’s cooler climate and abundance of cold water allow data centers to cost-effectively utilize free air and water cooling techniques. Since HVAC units use a lot of electricity to keep equipment at the right temperature, these alternative cooling mechanisms go a long way toward lowering a facility’s total cost of ownership.

Due in part to these unique attributes, Iceland has become one of the top data center relocation spots in Europe and the rest of the world. According to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield’s Data Center Risk Index 2013, Iceland is the seventh safest country globally to operate a data center.

“The Nordics, powered predominantly by hydroelectricity and with comparatively low energy unit costs, are becoming an increasingly attractive global data center location,” the report noted.

Is Distance Still a Concern?
Despite its benefits, a data center relocation to Iceland is far from a sure thing. In particular, ZDNet contributor Liam Tung noted last year that the country’s relative geographic isolation means that data transmission speeds to major urban hubs may be too slow for some firms to bear. For example, a business headquartered in London that prioritized reduced latency will likely find that a data center outside Reykjavik is not as effective as one in Greenwich or another nearby location. Furthermore, companies that decide to go through with such a data center relocation will likely need to either rely on Icelandic IT teams or relocate professionals to manage the facility.

Despite these concerns, Vargas wrote that the pros outweigh the cons in many situations. Not only is the profile of managed services providers in Iceland rising, but so are advances in remote monitoring technology. Plus, data transmission speeds only matter in certain instances, as this is not much of a concern for data stored primarily for disaster recovery purposes, for example. “Constraints aside, the Icelandic data center market presents an exciting opportunity for the rest of the world to take advantage of green computing,” Vargas said.

For global organizations concerned about energy efficiency and clean energy sources, Iceland remains one of the premier data center relocation spots in the world.

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