Italy is experiencing a period of rapid digitalization. Following a national crisis at the hands of Covid-19, the country embarked upon an ambitious Recovery and Resilience plan to spark job and economic growth. One of the main challenges was to accelerate Italy’s digital transition, streamlining data exchange processes and removing obstacles blocking the adoption of cloud solutions.
Development in the country’s connectivity capabilities, paired with a rise in remote services and cloud software consumption, has presented a rich opportunity for the data center industry.
Milan, in particular, is seeing an influx of investment due to its high network connectivity and low-risk geographical location. This is where we have laid roots for our Italian Data4 campus, and where we are excited to witness some significant growth and sustainability developments over the next few years.
Expanding the Data4 campus
As the only fully European player on the market, Data4 was one of the first operators to invest in Italy. The Data4 team’s far-sighted vision for growth and development helped them recognize the country’s potential long before the plan for Italy’s Recovery and Resilience was introduced.
Already one of the largest digital campuses in Italy, our Data4 Milan site is now preparing for further expansion. In fact, by 2025, we will be doubling the campus in both size and power, increasing to 21 hectares of land and 167 MW of power. In line with the surge in investment in Italian colocation data centers, our campus is well-equipped to stay ahead of demand and to cater to businesses of all sizes – from SMEs to hyperscalers.
Back in 2015, when the Italian Data4 campus first launched, our model was founded upon three pillars: connectivity, security, and power. The team has always maintained that excellence in all three is the only way to succeed, and that is reflected in our performance today. Exceptional connectivity is demonstrated by the thousands of fibers that connect our campus to the rest of the world. Customers are also able to choose their preferred level of connectivity, enabling a more bespoke experience.
Security is also at the heart of our mission. The high-quality design of the Data4 campuses allow us to offer scalable and secure solutions to meet a breadth of client needs.
And our final, arguably most important pillar is power. More power means scope to house more IT equipment and, in turn, serve more businesses. However, it’s well known that data centers are big energy consumers, and as we look to double our power capacity over the next few years, ‘success’ in this pillar will see Data4 focus on how we can grow sustainably. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a great way to measure the environmental impact of a data center, as it demonstrates the ratio of the total amount of power used to the power delivered to the equipment. In essence, it will highlight any energy that is going to waste. In Italy, our sustainable techniques and strategies mean we’re operating at a very low PUE in comparison to the market average. It is a level we’re proud to have achieved, but we are not complacent; there is lot more work that goes into becoming a truly green data center.
Building for a sustainable future
Sustainability starts with the blueprints of a data center and, as such, we challenged our builders to apply as many green methods as possible to the campus construction. One of these approaches was the use of low carbon concrete. By incorporating eco-friendly changes to the production process, manufacturers have been able to reduce concrete’s carbon footprint without changing the behavior or effectiveness of the material.
Another core component of a data center’s framework is air conditioning – which is business critical but can be a significant drain on energy. For this reason, 80 percent of our air conditioning uses outside air to reduce energy consumption and make the most of natural resources. The impact of our sustainable infrastructure is now measurable and available to view on our digital D4 Green Dashboard. Here, our customers can access an overview of their unique data footprint and use this information to structure and improve their approach going forward.
Analysts are forecasting a 57 percent boost in the Italian data center space between 2022 and 2026, which in parallel with the national Recovery and Resilience plan, will bring an influx of new jobs to the industry. Employees sit at the heart of Data4 and, as such, are a key component of our sustainability agenda. So, as part of a plan first rolled out on the Paris campus, every Data4 employee has or will attend a sustainability course on how they can contribute to a greener company and planet. This commitment to climate-friendly practices is one that runs through the entire company – from the builders to the HR team.
While Italy welcomes in a period of prosperity for data centers, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. For businesses around the country and, indeed, Europe in general the future may look uncertain. Rising energy prices are leaving customers assessing budgets and pressure from stakeholders is increasing demand for green partners and protocols. As a critical cornerstone of the digital economy, data centers have a responsibility to deliver power and sustainability to serve the economical and ethical goals of their clients.
Data4’s plan to double the size and power of its Milan campus will help to serve these goals, but at every opportunity our team will also strive to go the extra mile. For example, one of our latest developments is a four-hectare heritage area where we will be building a sustainable park, an investment in land that will remain just that – land! Rather than building another center, these hectares will be fully dedicated to our sustainability program.
For some, the word ‘growth’ in relation to data centers may have negative connotations of increased fossil fuel and electricity consumption, but Data4 wants to embody the very opposite. For us, growth means improvement in efficiency, sustainability, digitalization and innovation. As the Italian data center market continues to thrive, we’re committed to embedding these principles at the core of the industry.
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