Why Cloud Computing loves Ireland

Ireland is making serious progress in its bid to become the cloud centre of Europe. Here are some of the key success factors putting Ireland on every CTO’s shortlist

Cloud

Cloud computing continues to gain momentum as the preferred IT delivery model, which is giving data centres a rush of customers not seen since the millennium. Ireland is positioning itself well in this burgeoning market – a quick look at the names involved shows just how much the country has achieved in just four years:

  • Dell – locates first Cloud Computing R&D Centre in Ireland
  • HP – expands Cloud Services Centre in Galway
  • EMC – expands its cloud computing, big data and data centre research programmes in Cork
  • IBM –  first European Cloud Computing Centre established in Ireland
  • Microsoft – first Cloud Services Centre for EMEA customers opened in Dublin
  • Amazon.com —  European availability zones for Amazon EC2 Cloud Computing services housed in Ireland

From my point of view, here’s what I think Ireland is doing right:

The Irish government has prioritised the cloud

The importance of this can’t be underestimated. The Irish Government has not only committed itself to wider use of cloud computing for public sector IT; it is also promoting Ireland as a destination for cloud companies in line with its Programme for Government. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is working hard to bring high-growth cloud companies to Ireland and has already signed with Engine Yard, Marketo and Pinger. The taxation environment is vital — 12.5% corporation tax, and 25% tax credit for qualifying R&D undertaken in the state – but the people skills are probably the bigger draw. Amazon for instance is actually based in Luxembourg; it points to Irish talent as the real reason it’s invested so heavily here.

Cool and calm, just the way data centres like it

The cloud loves clouds, and Ireland’s climate has them in spades. The naturally cool environment here enables data centres to deliver economical, airside cooling; and the lack of extreme weather makes the Irish environment a more predictable location than countries in northern latitudes. Microsoft’s Grange Castle data centre in Dublin uses “free air” cooling almost exclusively; and ambient cooling is also the norm in eir’s Clonshaugh facility, which is set to double its capacity in 2012.

What’s more, the island of Ireland now offers 2,262 megawatts of renewable electricity capacity — wind and other renewables are a growing part of the energy mix, ideal for multinationals seeking a smaller carbon footprint.

Ireland’s got skills, and they’re multiplying

All the tax incentives in the world can’t help a company that locates in an emerging economy and finds it impossible to get skilled people. In Ireland we differentiate ourselves against newer economies with our deep pool of home-grown coders, networking specialists and data centre operations experts — many of whom take a Silicon-Valley style, no-fail approach to project delivery…a big comfort to inward investors with tight deadlines. And cloud specific graduates are on the way. Institutions like Cork Institute of Technology and Dublin Business School offer various qualifications in cloud computing, and Irish post-doctorate cloud research is extremely well-established.

Of course, the skills base will need to be maintained: if Ireland can retain its cloud workers with knowledge-based jobs here at home, the cloud strategy has real potential to bring the country through the tough times and give Ireland its time in the sun.