For decades, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, and Paris (FLAP) have dominated the European data center market. However, as demand for remote technologies continues to drive global digital transformation, the playing field has opened up and other contenders are snapping at their heels.

Spain – notably Madrid – is making a name for itself on the data scene. A combination of high-level connectivity, strategic location, and impressive capacity for renewable energy means the city region is poised and ready to become one of the key cloud hubs in Europe. However, it’s had quite the journey to get to this point. Roll the tape back a decade or so, and Spain had quite a different outlook.

The 2008 financial crisis had a profound effect on the Spanish economy, which had previously been benefitting from an explosive boom since the turn of the century. Following the crisis, a period of deep recession finally gave way to economic recovery.

By 2017, GDP was returning to its pre-2008 levels, and interest in colocation was reignited. Responding quickly to the market shift, our Data4 team decided to set up a new data center in Madrid and introduce Spain to our pioneering campus concept.

The draw to Spain

Growth is high on the agenda for our Spanish campus. Just a few weeks ago, we finished the first building phase of our second sitecenter and, following our purchase of a third plot of land, we’re excited to start work on an identical third center.

At their completion, the Madrid campus will be able to offer a total of 40MW to our rapidly expanding customer base. Considering the total Spanish capacity is currently 110-120MW, this gives Data4 a significant market share – with which we’re looking to make a significant impact.

Over the next few years, we expect to see this growth accelerate as Spain continues to penetrate the data center industry. It’s estimated that the country’s capacity may quadruple to 400MW by 2025.

There are a number of reasons for this. The positioning of the Iberian Peninsula has granted it status as an enterprising cloud region for Southern Europe, perfectly situated for intercontinental connections with the likes of Africa, North America and South America.

Located at a point of convergence for telecommunication networks means connectivity is high and very desirable. Finally, Spain has also emerged as a leader in renewable energy, with sustainable sources accounting for 47 percent of the country’s power generation in 2021.

At Data4, we’ve been able to leverage these advantages and adopt them into our centers. While all the energy consumed across our European campuses is green, in Spain, we are able to take this one step further – 100 percent of our consumed energy is also renewable.

Elevating what it means to be green

Sustainability sits at the core of our business model and helps us not only to increase efficiency but also reduce our negative impact on the planet. The very function of a data center necessitates a high level of energy consumption in order to power IT equipment; in fact, the latest statistics show that globally, data centers consume around one percent of the planet’s electricity.

We must be bold in challenging ourselves to better this situation. At Data4, we’re constantly questioning how we can improve, negate and offset our consumption. This is reflected in our airflow management, rack and cooling optimization, and techniques for reducing C02 emissions.

These tweaks and adjustments are evidence of our team’s creative thinking, all driven by the purpose to hit crucial metric targets, such as the lowering of our Power Usage Efficiency (PUE). In Spain we must accommodate for a higher external temperature, meaning we’re faced with an additional barrier to reducing PUE in comparison to centers located in Northern Europe.

Together with our clients, we research, understand, and develop new ways to sidestep this barrier, even embrace it. For example, we are currently looking to increase the ambient temperature in our data rooms, extend solar paneling in the parking lot, and establish methods of transforming waste heat that could benefit the local community.

Defining community

Alcobendas – that is, the precise Madrid suburb where our campus is located – is an industrial neighborhood that we’re proud to be a part of. While in other countries, centers are typically built in more remote areas, choosing Alcobendas has granted us a chance to give back.

Take our C02 emissions, for example. What we cannot reduce or reuse ourselves, we look to sink in a way that will contribute to the sustainability goals of the community, such as planting trees or investing in the city’s green spaces. We also know there is considerable opportunity to reuse heat energy to power the local area, and our proximity to our neighbors helps to accelerate this process.

For Data4, the term ‘community’ also extends beyond that of the local area; our relationship with our customers holds the same meaning. Collaboration is key, and we ensure we’re always working together so everyone’s needs are met, if not exceeded.

We operate in full transparency so customers can understand every element of their plan with us, including their environmental impact. This also means we share internal information such as risk assessments, and if they spot something that we might have missed, or feel they can add value in another way, we endeavor to make those changes together.

Changing perceptions

Right now, Spain is being presented with an incredible opportunity for data center growth. Saturation of resources, land, and power in the FLAP market is turning attention to other cities to help cater to worldwide digitalization. One of our main goals is to present Madrid as a city worthy of this new business.

We want to workare already working with authorities to help them understand that this opportunity won’t last forever; if we want Madrid to enter the market as a major player, the time to act is now. Indeed, the rewards will benefit the country as a whole, boosting Spain’s technology sector with more jobs and better salaries.

As one of the largest campuses and earliest cloud adopters in Madrid, Data4 is well positioned to facilitate this shift. By focusing on sustainable growth and continuing to foster and expand our client community, I hope we can inspire change and ultimately elevate Spain to the front of the global data market.