Inspired by Facebook's hyperscale data center in Luleå, the once large area of argricultural municipality in Northern Norway is now eager to attract international actors to establish hyperscale data centers in Balsfjord.
News from Computerworld - http://www.cw.no/artikkel/datasenter/international-datasenter-balsfjord
"Balsfjord municipality has excellent conditions for establishing large data centers," says Rune Strømme from Bredbåndsfylket. Strømme has just finished a preliminary study for Balsfjord based on the competitive advantages within the region to be an ideal host for hyperscale data centers.
The preliminary study conclused that there it is positive to build data centers in Balsfjord due to:
1. Access to an abundance of stable and renewable energy
2. A cool climate that makes cooling affordable
3. Regulated sites for industry and business with permits ready for building
4. Redundant fiber capacity to sites.
5. Relevant expertise in IT and Computer Science, including the Arctic University - University of Tromsø
6. Good transport infrastructure with short distance to the airports at Tromsø and Bardufoss
"We see great opportunities for Balsfjord. Data center industry can generate growth in the municipality with skills jobs that help Balsfjord become a much more attractive."says Gunda Johansen, the Mayor of Balsfjord Municipality. Johansen went on a study trip to Luleå, and was impressed by the region's growth as a result of the establishment of Facebook and other high tech companies.
Enormous growth in data
The global data center industry is growing tremendously. 90 % of all digital information was produced in the last two years and it is estimated that the global data will continue to growth twofolds every 18 months.
"Cloud space" are essentially huge server parks, or data centers, which are driven by electricity to operate as well as to cool down. Tech giants like Facebook, Google and Apple are committed to run their data centers with 100 % renewable electricity. In Northern Norway , 100% of the energy produced is from renewable sources.
Data centers and fiber networks are the backbone of the digital community, "says Dag-Kjetil Hansen, CEO at Bredbåndsfylket. Strømme and Hansen recently came home from Datacloud Europe in Monaco 2016, a global conference that brings together important actors in the data center industry from around the world. They say that they received a good market responses regarding to the initiatives at Balsfjord.
Much work remains
Ther is a lot of work remains before a data center can be established in Balsfjord. The municipality is now working with both politicians, the local government and private sectors to secure funding for further development. "The main challenge for Balsfjord and Northern Norway is the need for fiber connection to the major internet nodes that are located in London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Today, any data traffic to and from Balsfjord must go through Sweden.' says Hansen.
Plans for sea cable
However, there are plans to build a fiber cable connecting Asia and Norway through the Northeast Passage. At the same time, other actors are working to build the "Midgardsormen" sea cable from the United States to Mo i Rana.
"This means that Northern Norway may be the focal point of this fiber highway between Asia and Europe, and it will make it even more attractive to establish data centers here," says Hansen.
May cause enormous ring effects
It became apparent when Facebook chose Luleå to set up one of its data centers, the establishment has also led to new development in the region. Boston Consulting Group reported in 2014 that, that Facebook datacenter has caused major ripple effects in the region by adding NOK 9 billion in regional value creation, and provides 4500 jobs in the ten-year period after Facebook's establishment. This includes workplaces for the operation of data centers, subcontractors, but also jobs related to research and development.
What's next in Balsfjord?
Facebook's establishment in Luleå has given the whole region a huge nutritional boost. Now the goal is that the same happens in and around Balsfjord.
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