To identify the best places in Europe where to develop, operate and ultimately to invest in data centres, Savills - one of the world's leading property agents - conducted a benchmark based on various parameters related to security, natural resources and energy supply, broadband infrastructure, costs induced, demand and existing supply, ICT human resources and data centre capital market.
Data centres come in all shapes and sizes ranging from hyperscale facilities that house thousands of servers to mobile micro-data centres that provide remote storage. More importantly, different types of data centres serve different purposes, imply different data usage, need different operating systems and strategies, hence require different locations. Whilst there are many types of data centres, for the purpose of this benchmark, Savills divided them into two categories: hyperscale and cloud-scale data centres and traditional and cloud data centres.
Hyperscale and cloud-scale data centres have specific and heavy workload requirements such as mining, 3D rendering, cryptography and other technical or scientific computing tasks that are processed by specialised system configurations. They are primarily designed to optimise performance and cost. Hence as long as strong connectivity and security can be achieved, they can be located in rural areas, notably where energy supply is high and provided at low cost. As a result, security, natural resources and energy supply, broadband infrastructure and energy costs have been heavily weighted for this category of data centres in our benchmark.
On the other hand, traditional And cloud data centres generally perform more diverse and lighter tasks. These notably include a large amount of data streaming, which impose extremely low latency. Hence, they need to be located in closed proximity to end-users, where broadband and network infrastructures are dense. For these reasons, we gave more weight to the demand and supply and broadband infrastructure metrics for the traditional and cloud data centres benchmark.
The report covers 21 European countries including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The analysis draws on 25 indicators, gathered into seven categories: security, natural resources and energy, broadband, costs, demand and supply, talent, and capital market.
The data used for the index was collected at a national level. Where possible these indicators use the latest annual data available, past five-year growth and five-year forecasts, to ensure the index incorporates a forward-looking view.
The indicators have been ranked and weighted across the 21 countries in two different ways allowing us to present two different sets of results; one dedicated for cloud data centres and one for traditional data centres.
Hyperscale and cloud-scale data centre - Benchmark results
The Nordics and the Netherlands top the rankings. The Nordic region is characterised by its high reliability of energy supply, notably renewable energy, with some of the best-performing grids in Europe. Electricity prices in the Nordic countries are very competitive, amongst the lowest of the 21 countries benchmarked. Strong connectivity, high security and a large pool of cloud users add to the attractiveness of the region. However, the long distance to the epicentre of the EU, particularly regarding Iceland, can be a drag for some developers and operators.
In the Netherlands, strong broadband connectivity, dense infrastructure, and large cloud adoption are the prevailing metrics of the ranking result. Additionally, a short distance from major data consumption basins enables low latency.
Traditional and cloud data centre - Benchmark results
The UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands are the best-graded countries particularly thanks to the solid network infrastructure in place, large data consumer pool, high cloud penetration rate from both end-users and enterprises and good connectivity. Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and France have the highest number of co-location data centres according to Cloudscene. The four countries account for 74% of the data centre investment volume accumulated between 2014 and 2020, with the UK alone, attracting most investors interest (40%).