Data Centre Industry Contribution of the Year
It is only in the recent years the industry has opened its eyes towards Norway as a data centre location. From being “too far away, too complicated, too immature”, this region is now a rising star offering a value proposition of green energy, low power costs and stable framework conditions. We would like to nominate CEO of Green Mountain, Tor Kristian Gyland, for his immense contribution in building and promoting Norway as a data centre location.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
Gyland’s journey in the data centre industry started in 2011, when he took the role as CTO of Green Mountain. This newly established company had an ambition of building a new industry in Norway, realizing that the country had all the prerequisites to become an attractive data centre destination. At this point, there were hardly any colocation providers in Norway and most of the enterprise data centers were hidden in office basements. Together with the first few employees of Green Mountain he crafted a strategy of building both the best and greenest data centres in Europe. Gyland was responsible for designing Green Mountain’s two first data centres, located in Stavanger and Rjukan. They have been TierIII certified by Uptime institute and have won numerous awards for innovative solutions and high-quality.
PUTTING NORWAY FIRST
Gyland saw early on that building top-notch facilities were not enough to attract international customers. “In order to position Norway as an attractive data centre destination we had to work together as a united industry. We also needed to work towards the authorities in Norway to create the best framework conditions possible and make the industry competitive in an international market.” says Gyland.
Gyland has been heavily involved in these efforts, working together with competitors, NGOs and politicians to create a foundation for growth in the industry. All the work produced results and in 2018 the Norwegian government presented their data center strategy “Norway as a Data Center Nation”. (https://www.regjeringen.no/en/dokumenter/datasenterstrategien/id2590685/) This plan includes measures relating to tax reductions, facilitation of fibre optic cables, and less bureaucratic regulations. It has proven to be effective as the Norwegian industry has experienced a tremendous increase in establishments and interest from international clients like Microsoft (https://news.microsoft.com/europe/2018/06/20/microsoft-announces-two-new-datacentre-regions-in-norway/) and Google. (https://www.statkraft.com/media/news/2019/statkraft-facilitates-for-google/)
ADVISING NEWCOMERS IN THE INDUSTRY
One of the major challenges in presenting the Norwegian value proposition abroad was the fact that the players in the industry were not equally mature. It has therefore been important to Green Mountain to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience between the companies. This has been done both informally and through the "Invest in Norway" organization. Bringing the whole industry up to par and having a common narrative to present has been a vital factor in succeeding. “As a more mature player, we have a responsibility of setting the industry standard and making sure the whole industry works towards it.” says Gyland.
PUSHING FOR CONNECTIVITY
Improved connectivity is a critical factor in order to succeed. In Norway, there are now several new subsea fibre cables in the making or recently launched. Gyland, and Green Mountain, has been directly involved in one of these projects, the NO-UK cable.(https://no-uk.com/) In addition to being one of the owners, the landing station of the cable connecting Norway and the UK will be at the DC1-Stavanger facility. This 700 km long cable with be part of the Euroconnect-1 fiber network connecting Norway to important digital hubs such as London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Hamburg. “We have always had a strong value proposition with our renewable and abundant hydropower, low power prices, safe business environment and beneficial framework conditions. Now we can truly add multiple state-of-the art international fibre connections to the list, which makes our offer even stronger.” says Gyland.
THE GROWTH ACCELERATED IN 2017
In 2017 Gyland was appointed the new CEO of Green Mountain. From this point, both Green Mountain and the Norwegian industry started reaping the fruits of their labor.
For Green Mountain the contractual revenues have more than doubled every year since, and the growth is expected to continue. With the opening of our 3rd data centre in the Oslo region in September this year Green Mountain has a unique offering to the international data centre market. “The strategy of industry collaboration and putting Norway first has proven effective. We have managed to attract multi-national enterprises to the country and positioned Norway as a rising star among Europe’s data centre locations.” says Gyland.
CLOSING THE COMPETENCE GAP
Building a new industry also means developing a professional workforce that is specialized and capable of solving the challenges in data centre design and development. Gyland has been a proactive force in this regard as well. On one hand, he has made it Green Mountain’s strategy to build competence internally by taking in apprentices, and support the professional development of employees through further education and courses. On the other hand, he has contributed to the establishment of a higher professional study in data centre infrastructure technology at the Tinius Olsen School in Norway. This new study is the first of its kind in Northern Europe and provides a comprehensive understanding of how data centers are operated. This includes knowledge and skills in electrical, climate/energy/environment and safety, as well as computer knowledge. The graduates will be an important workforce to rely on as the industry grows. Gyland has for the last 5 years held guest lectures at the University of Oslo and at other conferences to spread the word and create interest for the datacenter business.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SITE DEVELOPMENT
Professional site development has always been a topic close to Gyland’s heart. “If we want to attract international clients, we have to know their needs and facilitate sites that satisfy their requirements. It is not sufficient to brag about our availability of power and land, we have to make the choice easy for them, in respect to all the factors affection site selection.” For instance, Gyland has been involved in the establishment of “New Kaupang” (https://newkaupang.com/), an organization showcasing sites in the western part of Norway and assisting international clients in gaining access to sites, stakeholders and resources. At Kalberg Valley, outside Stavanger, he is participating in the development of a new area with a potential to grow to 1.500 Acres, with a power capacity of 500 – 1000 MW and connectivity to cater for the world’s biggest Cloud and Content providers.
“To become a truly attractive data center location, we have to show that Norway can host both hyperscalers and co-location clients with the same level of quality. I believe that our cooperative approach is the reason that an increasing number of companies choose Norway as their next data centre destination.”