Is Madrid the new Data Centre hub?
Thu 3 Jun 2021
Robert Assink (Interxion): “We need the participation of the Public Administration to make Madrid’s Digital Hub possible”
The international data centre sector strongly supports the Spanish market. Interxion is one firm leading the way, opening its fourth data centre in Madrid (35,000 square metres), which will make it the largest installation of its kind in the capital.
We spoke with Robert Assink, General Director of Interxion Spain, on its confidence in the Spanish market and the impact of the pandemic on the data centre industry.
1.Building your fourth data centre in Madrid shows your undeniable confidence in the state of the Spanish market. What is it that attracts you to invest in Spain?
Spain has a privileged geographical position. It’s one of the principal European economies and is currently a hub for digital business in southern Europe. The arrival of underwater cables interconnecting with America and Africa will also open up new opportunities and will transform Spain into a destination for major public cloud providers. All of this makes Spain a great place to invest.
2. Spain is working to become a digital hub for southern Europe. What is it doing to achieve this and what can be improved?
For Spain to become a digital hub for southern Europe, we need a stable, transparent and simple regulatory framework. One that expedites approval processes for construction, land availability and electrical power. We need the participation and collaboration of the Public Administration to achieve this. Fortunately, the data centre sector and cloud service providers are being heard. What’s important is the collaboration between different providers to achieve a support network which benefits the country as a whole.
3. You are currently meeting with key figures from the data centre and cloud infrastructure sector, as well as members of parliament. What is the outcome from these meetings?
We are participating in various forums to offer our vision, and the Administration is showing significant interest in meeting our requirements. In recent months, we have been in contact with the Secretary of State for Telecommunications, the Vice President of Digital Transformation, and the Minister of Economy for the Community of Madrid. Last December, the Mayor of the capital also visited us to see the infrastructure first-hand.
4. How do you value the role of the Public Administration in positioning Madrid as a digital hub for southern Europe?
We need the participation of the Public Administration groups to make the Madrid Digital Hub possible. We are already seeing this interest in certain initiatives and programmes. One example is the Digital Spain 2025 plan which includes attracting investment into cross-border infrastructure as a key objective, as well as driving the development of Spain as a “digital port” for underwater cables. The key aim is to advance the digital transformation of the country so we can perform with efficiency and see faster results.
5. Data centres are often forgotten as “invisible infrastructure”, but the pandemic has highlighted the sector’s fundamental role in the digital community…
Data centres are places where telecommunications, content services, businesses and users can interconnect and interchange data. Stored data isn’t valuable, it obtains value when it travels. During the pandemic, data centres have been made visible more than ever as we are seeing the need to access data from any location at any moment. We need to take advantage of this visibility.
6. During the pandemic, data centres were categorised as critical infrastructure and technicians as key workers. What will be the post-pandemic view?
Where the large majority of services now depend on the cloud, data centres are pillars of the digital economy. Our availability needs to be constant and that is an obligation, be it during a pandemic or not. We need to avoid service cuts at all costs, and our personnel devote themselves to this duty.
7. Climate change and sustainability are hot topics when it comes to data centres. What measures should the sector implement to promote energy efficiency?
Sustainability and energy efficiency are pillars of our business. From the design phase to operation, we take measures to reduce energy consumption and to ensure our sources are renewable. A few weeks ago, we signed the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, an international agreement which pledges to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. In Spain we are already CO2 neutral. Our energy sources are 100% green and the CO2 generated by residual activities (such as the transport of our data centre employees) is also compensated.
8. Lastly, taking into account the demand for electrical power, data centres are looking to be included in the electro-intensive industry sector. What implications could this have and at what point are Interxion in this discussion?
In a data centre, the cost of electricity can represent up to 40% of its costs. To be considered as an electro-intensive industry would afford the industry tax exemptions associated with electrical supply, increasing competitiveness and attracting more investments from major data centre operators. The cost of energy is a decisive factor when it comes to choosing a country to build a data centre.