Data centre giant plans growth in ‘internet capital of Europe’

2 Jul 2010

California-headquartered Digital Realty Trust – which has more than US$500m worth of data centre infrastructure under management in Europe – says it is expanding its workforce in Dublin on the back of significant internet and financial opportunities.

Backed by a Californian pension fund, Digital Realty Trust has been buying more than 13m sq feet of data centres around the world, including two in Dublin.

Since establishing its HQ office in 2006, Digital Realty Trust has invested almost €120m in Ireland and employs 30 full-time staff across European marketing, IT, corporate accounting, portfolio management and technical operations.

Digital Realty Trust’s 15pc expansion

Bernard Geoghegan, senior VP of international operations at Digital Realty Trust, told Siliconrepublic that it plans to expand its 30-strong workforce in Dublin by 15pc, with five new technical, legal and financial jobs.

Digital Realty Trust owns three data centres in the greater Dublin area. The company provides flexible, reliable and cost-effective data centre solutions, from data centre design and construction, to comprehensive data centre management solutions.

The company leases data centre space to more than 50 of the Fortune 500 companies’ data centre requirements, along with local organisations such as Eircom, HEAnet and Servecentric.

The company’s entry into the Irish market began in 2006 when it acquired a data centre from Hibernian Atlantic in Clonshaugh, rapidly followed by the purchase of the former Worldport data centre the same year.

“The purpose of our Irish operations are to support our international properties in Europe, namely in Ireland, the UK, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland,” Geoghegan explained.

“The last couple of years were all about stabilising those assets and making sure they were properly managed. We’re now going to hire an additional five people in the areas of legal and technology. This will be key to keeping our critical mass of growth but also expanding our expertise across multiple functions to grow the business. Our portfolio in Europe is half a billion dollars in value.”

Dublin as an internet hub

Geoghegan said that a key driver for growth has been the emergence of Dublin as a significant destination for internet businesses. The city has attracted the international headquarters of firms like Google, Zynga, Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, Big Fish Games, eBay Gala Networks and PayPal, earning it the sobriquet ‘Internet capital of Europe.’

“Last year, we thought things would be slow,” said Geoghegan. “We looked out there with our negative spectacles on. To be honest, instead we’ve seen steady growth. Our deals take longer than your average sales cycle, but we’ve just signed up another property in Amsterdam. Internet companies, financial institutions and system integrators are on a growth curve.”

He said that the company is still acquisitive. “The easiest thing for us to do would be to extend properties at existing locations. But we’re currently beavering away to acquire more properties. One of the key sectors is the internet, and Ireland is still attracting more and more investment.

“We believe the innovation focus by Government will count and I see a positive for Ireland if the tax benefits for games companies end in the UK at the end of the year, Ireland could reap the benefits.”

Digital Realty Trust study results

A study by Digital Realty Trust last year found some 80pc of the decision makers in Europe plan to expand their data centres in the coming years. Of the total, 18pc plan to expand in the next 12 months and 67pc plan to expand in the next 24 months. Some 15pc of data centre expansions are in the planning stages. The average size of the planned expansions is about 10,000 sq metres.

Geoghegan said Digital Realty Trust has the necessary funds to make more acquisitions and construct data centres. “We made more acquisitions in the US than actually building data centres. We consider ourselves a facilitator for people have a particular IP strategy. We have the funds there and they can learn from our experience and buying power to get the solution they want.

“We’re not adverse to buying something, refurbishing it and nor are we afraid to take a Greenfield site or partner with somebody.

“In terms of areas of opportunities for the future, we see that a number of financial companies are trying to reinvent themselves with new services, product, and they’re under pressure to work their way out of the recession. In that sense, we’re very much on the lookout,” Geoghegan said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years