Ireland needs to defend its position in Europe’s digital future

From Safe Harbour and Privacy Shield to Facebook and Apple’s tax affairs, Ireland is at the centre of the digital battlefield of Europe whether it wants to be or not. The decisions we make and actions we take will sum up our character in the eyes of our European neighbours, writes John Kennedy. From our remote outcrop on Europe’s westernmost fringe, you would think we would be shielded from pivotal events, like war, etc, but because of the universal nature of the world’s digital economy, Ireland is on the frontline. In fact, we are at the very centre of the world in digital matters due to geography and industrial policy, and it’s time to show some responsibility and backbone. Read more

Governments wishing to attract investment by data-centre providers must ensure key infrastructure is in place

"Given the long-term, capital-intensive nature of data centres, it is essential to create an overall environment that is stable and conducive to such investment."
Governments that wish to nurture a healthy Internet and technology ecosystem are placing increasing emphasis on attracting investment by data-centre operators and their users. Given the long-term, capital-intensive nature of data centres, it is essential to create an overall environment that is stable and conducive to such investment. This depends on two main factors. First, it is important for the overall business environment to be attractive, and the policy and regulatory environment to be progressive and non-restrictive. Second, certain pieces of key infrastructure must be in place at a high quality and an attractive price. In this article we focus on the infrastructure requirement, which has three key elements:
  • high-capacity domestic fibre connectivity
  • international connectivity
  • power.
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The European Code of Conduct for Energy Efficiency in Data Centre: Towards a Low Carbon Europe

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The European Code of Conduct for Data Centres programme is a voluntary initiative managed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s in-house science service. The Code addresses primarily data centre owners and operators, and secondly the supply chain and service providers.

  The energy saving focus of the Code of Conduct covers two main areas: 1. IT Load - this relates to the consumption of the IT equipment in the data centre. 2. Facilities Load - this relates to the mechanical and electrical systems that support the IT electrical load. Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 4.17.49 PM

The Data Centres Code of Conduct has been created in response to increasing energy consumption in data centres and the need to reduce the related environmental, economic and energy supply impacts. The aim is to inform and stimulate operators and owners to reduce energy consumption in a cost-effective manner without hampering the critical function of data centres. Providing a platform to bring together European stakeholders to discuss and agree voluntary actions which will improve energy efficiency following European conditions such as the climate and energy markets regulations.

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Q&A: Bjarni Thorvardarson, CEO, Hibernia Networks

After much anticipation, Hibernia Networks finally launched its Hibernia Express transatlantic cable in September 2015.

Bjarni Thorvardarson340pxCapacity catches up with Hibernia Networks’ CEO Bjarni Thorvardarson to find out about its progress and how it plans to meet growing customer demand in the market.   The Hibernia Express is now ready for service. What have been your priorities since its launch? As you can imagine, there is much work to do after you’ve launched a submarine cable. This has been five years in the making, from the preparation to the design through to the landing of the cable. Since the launch of the cable, we have been testing it for capacity and latency. We want to maximise the cable’s capacity as well as optimise its latency and diversity. That means making sure the route of the Hibernia Express is completely diverse from existing ones. Read more

A Thriving Digital Economy Can Respect Individuals’ Privacy While Ensuring the Global Community’s Safety and Protection

As Helen Dixon, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, pointed out in a statement issued by her Office, the issues dealt with in the decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) to invalidate the “Safe Harbour” system, under which companies transfer customer data from Europe to the United States, are “complex.”  She elaborated, saying that the issues “will require careful consideration” and “what is immediately clear is that the Court has reiterated the fundamental importance attaching to the right of individuals to the protection of their personal data. That is very much to be welcomed.” Read more

Hosting Data in Ireland: What Apple, Google & Facebook Know That You Don’t

From Finance to Pharma, Why Companies Large & Small Host in Ireland” by: Garry Connolly, Founder and President, of Host in Ireland Ireland is increasingly viewed by businesses as a global data centre hub. A recent TelecityGroup Ireland surveyed Senior IT decision-makers supports the claim, that one in five Irish-based companies has spent over €500,000 on data hosting in the past year. What are the key drivers to locating data centres and digital assets in Ireland? Read more

WHY CHOOSE IRELAND FOR DATA CENTERS?

WHY CHOOSE IRELAND FOR DATA CENTERS? Originally posted on Citadel100 Ireland’s attraction to multinational corporations, both those operating here and those considering investment, is based on a variety of factors, from low tax to the quality of the workforce. For current facts about Ireland please see the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) ‘Global Business Services Report 2013′ available here and their website here. Read more

CBRE Ireland Releases Bi-Monthly Report

cbre-logo-vector CBRE Ireland released their latest bi-monthly report focussing on trends and transactions in each sector of the Irish commercial property market.  Below is an excerpt from that report. To read this in full, please read click here   INDUSTRIAL & LOGISTICS
  • Transactional activity in the industrial and logistics sector paused for breath to some extent during July and August following a bumper first half of the year during which more than 185,000m2 of take-up was recorded in the Dublin market.
  • There was considerable activity in the data centre sector of the market during the Summer with Facebook having been granted planning permission for a data centre on the M3 motorway at Clonee, County Meath and Google announcing plans to develop a second data centre alongside their existing facility at Profile Park off the M7 motorway.
  • Demand for prime industrial sites which has been increasing of late is fuelled by an increase in demand for greenfield design-and-build solutions from occupiers that are frustrated by the scarcity of supply of modern accommodation along primary road networks.
  • With a large proportion of available stock now reserved and no new stock expected to be developed anytime soon, there is potential for a notable spike in prime rental values over the coming quarters as new market evidence materialises.
  • Demand for new industrial and logistics stock continues to strengthen although we do not expect to see any speculative development until well into 2016.
Click here to download the full report: CBRE | Bi-Monthly Research Report September 2015

Irish tech companies raise €307m in funding in first 6 months of 2015

Originally posted on Silicon Republic by Colm Gorey Irish tech companies had a rather successful first six months of 2015, with a new survey revealing €307m was raised by start-ups and SMEs in that period. The VenturePulse survey of Irish tech companies was undertaken by the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) and also marks a significant jump of 45pc on the same period in 2014 when €211.9m was raised, and in 2013 when €164.9m was raised. Among the findings, the survey of Irish tech companies found that a total of €187.1m was raised during the second quarter of 2015 alone. Early-stage companies were able to raise €7.6m in Q2 alone – or 4pc of the total funds raised – while the total half-year amount was €19.4m in funds. Read more

Google’s new Irish head has his gaze fixed on innovation

Originally posted on Irish Times

googleRonan Harris brings a vision for change to his new role after 10 years with the tech giant

It’s a wonder that Ronan Harris gets anything done. Google Ireland’s new head has a corner office with a breathtaking view of Dublin city that would distract even the most focused person. It’s a clear day, you can see right across the city, taking in everything from the Aviva Stadium to the Dublin mountains and more.

But when you are the head of one the biggest tech companies in the country – and vice-president of its EMEA operation too – the view is just a nice extra.

“It’s great, even on a bad day,” he admits. “All of the offices no matter which side of the building you happen to be on have an amazing view. We’re all pretty lucky I think here.”

On the day we meet, he has already had somewhat of a star-studded morning, with Amy Schumer and Bill Hader delivering one of the company’s “Fireside chats” at Google’s Foundry building across the street. Harris was there to perform the introductions before heading back to his office in Google Docks.

It’s been a hectic few weeks for Google as a company. The company has restructured and rebranded as Alphabet, with Google forming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the new Alphabet, alongside other ventures such as Nest and Calico, the company’s longevity product. The announcement was live streamed to Google’s offices around the world.

The new structure is something that may take the rest of a little longer to get used to, but Harris has taken it all in stride.

“Google never sits still. I think it’s one of the things that makes us such an exciting company, whether it’s in terms of our products or organisation or some of the experiments we do in Google X. We’re a company that is built on innovation – if you build on innovation, you build on change,” he says. That certainly can be seen in Google’s operations over the years.

For a company that started out as primarily focused on search, things have changed considerably. Google has moved into mobile devices with Android, the internet of things with Nest, and has dabbled in driverless cars and wearables, with Google Glass.

Even in Ireland, things don’t stay still. The Dublin team has grown from its humble beginnings to be an important part of Google globally. Rather than simply sales and marketing, the company has a considerable engineering function here too, from hardware and data centres with site reliability and search quality.

“We are where the rubber hits the road for our users, publisher and advertising partners for EMEA,” says Harris.

“We provide the supports, the sales support, the research and innovation out to each of those groups from here. For me it’s really important that we stay at the forefront of that, that we continue to be the fountain of insight for Google across each of those groups and the innovation associated with it.”

While Google’s change to Alphabet may mostly be a rebranding, the appointment of a new head of Google Ireland is not.

Harris has only been in the role since May, when John Herlihy stepped down after 10 years at the helm, but he’s a company veteran and determined to make his mark.

He joined Google as the company was packing up from its former home in Harcourt Street and making its way to Barrow Street, where it now dominates the heart of Dublin’s Silicon Docks. “We were one of the first tech companies to arrive in this part of town,” he says. “We had taken two floors of Gordon House and it was a huge space, and we were wondering what the future held.”

Data centre

A bit of crystal ball gazing would have revealed some good news for the company. Back then, it was only getting started in Europe, with between 2,000 and 2,500 employees globally. Now, between full-time staff and contractors, Google Ireland employs double that. At the last head count in October last year, the Irish arm employed 2,500 people on a permanent basis, and it’s set to grow further with the introduction of second new data centre in west Dublin.

An electronic engineering graduate, Dublin-born Harris had a stint overseas, putting in a few years as an engineer with Mitsubishi before moving into consulting. From there, he moved on to be a director of Truscom, before taking up the role of chief operations officer of e-learning firm Skillspro. His entrance to Google came in 2005, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I’ve always been working in the tech area, so to see this blossoming tech scene building in Dublin and for us to be a major part of that is great,” he says. “It’s a huge source of personal pride for me.”

It’s a nice way to mark a decade at the company, taking over the top job. But Harris is modest about the achievement.

“What made me right for the job?” he laughs. “You have to ask somebody else that question.”

Building the operation

Despite his modesty, being appointed to the job is one of his proudest moments in his career, he says, particularly because he was involved in building the Irish operation over the past decade.

“Being asked to lead the site is both a humbling moment and also one I’m very proud of,” he said. “There’s an amazing amount of people who have put a huge effort into building the success of Google in Ireland and building its reputation within Google globally.”

It’s the people that form a major part of the culture at Google. The company is known for its less-than-staid work environment, with employees enjoying perks like an in-house gym and swimming pool, fully stocked fridges and snacks throughout the building, and themed days where staff dress up or bring in baby photographs.

“It can be [long hours and hard work], but it’s fun. Google is well known for having an amazing work environment,” he says. “The most fun thing we have on the list that we like is the people we have here. We’re lucky to be able to attract the talent that we do. Maintaining that culture is very important to us.”

One thing that may have made Harris stand out above other candidates for the top job is his focus on innovation – a major consideration for a company in such a fast-moving sector.

“I’ve always had this huge focus on innovation, and trying to constantly change and constantly look for the next thing – don’t always get it right but part of being at Google is that we expect people to try things and to fail,” he says. “Hopefully over 10 years I’ve demonstrated that the focus on innovation is important in terms of leadership at Google.”

His focus over the years has been on where the company can innovate and change to do things better for its customers, build new services and products for partners and change how it operates internally to be one of the more efficient parts of Google. That, he says, is key.

“In the world of technology, in the world of internet, you can’t afford to stay still. You have to be constantly challenging and thinking about what’s next,” he says.

Adrenaline

Sitting still certainly doesn’t seem like it’s in Harris’s character. He is, he admits, somewhat of an adrenaline junkie. In his office, there’s a certificate that acknowledges he’s climbed Kilimanjaro. He took the trip in 2007 with a few people from Google - something he did for a bit of fun. “It was great,” he said. “I like some interesting and crazy stuff.” His family also keeps him busy, with two children to balance with the demands of his current role. “That’s a busy part of life that time has to be made for,” he says. “You make the best of it, you figure out how to balance it and get the quality time. That’s so important.”

In his spare time – something he has a little less of these days with the travelling that comes with the VP role – he likes kite surfing, sailing and other water sports, a throwback to his days at UCD. His typical haunts are Dublin Bay or Roaring Water Bay near Skibbereen, although his regular trips to California might yield more temperate conditions for scuba diving.

But for now, his professional focus at least is on cementing Google Ireland’s place in the global organisation.

“I think Ireland Inc has got this tremendous position where it’s now got nearly all of the top 20 largest internet companies with their European headquarters based here,” he says.

“I think it’s a huge opportunity for Ireland to build around that and for Ireland to play as an increasingly important role as a data hub for Europe. We just need to keep fuelling that ecosystem.

“Hopefully we can sustain the growth.”

CV

Name: Ronan Harris

Position: Head of Google Ireland, VP of Google EMEA

Age: 43

Family: Married with two children aged 5 and 7

Something you might expect: Most of his career has been with tech companies since he graduated from UCD

Something that might surprise: He is a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and counts kite surfing and scuba diving among his hobbies. He has also climbed Kilimanjaro