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Nordic Nations Pitch For US Data Centers 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the troll-protected dept.
judgecorp writes "Nordic nations are all pitching for business from data centre owners, based on their countries' excellent network provision, plentiful electricity from renewable sources, and a climate where servers can be kept cool cheaply, using the ambient air temperature, with no need for chillers. A Swedish delegation is visiting California to lure other players to follow Facebook into Sweden. Meanwhile, Iceland now has a new multi-tenant data centre to join the existing Thor site, and Denmark has a container-park data centre for its financial industry."
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Nordic Nations Pitch For US Data Centers

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  • Iceland??? (Score:4, Funny)

    by maroberts (15852) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:30AM (#39145437) Homepage Journal

    I'd be more worried about server crashes due to hot magma than cooling!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hot magma gives you cheap geothermal energy that you can then use for cooling :)

      • Sweden???!!! (Score:4, Informative)

        by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:56AM (#39145555)
        I'd be more worried about data breaches and server seizures due to their crazy politicians [thedailybeast.com], crazy justice system! [thelocal.se] and willingness to bend over for all manner of privacy invading measures [falkvinge.net] to satisfy foreign interests. It will be a hot day in Iceland before we move any servers to Sweden. Go Iceland!
        • Re:Sweden???!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Corbets (169101) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:41AM (#39145753) Homepage

          I'd be more worried about data breaches and server seizures due to their crazy politicians [thedailybeast.com], crazy justice system! [thelocal.se] and willingness to bend over for all manner of privacy invading measures [falkvinge.net] to satisfy foreign interests. It will be a hot day in Iceland before we move any servers to Sweden. Go Iceland!

          You have to be careful trusting the Local for news. We have them in Switzerland too, same company, and all they do is poorly translate then over-sensationalize stories. Can't speak for the other sources, though.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's comical how they treat Geert as some sort of Himmler instead of the hero he is. When Amsterdam has a Sharia district setup by the left so as to not "make Muslims feel different or ostracized from Mainstream Dutch life" we will panic and vote in 50 more of him but also 10 more that push that line of what is acceptable (i.e. deportation based on religion/ethnicity or even worse).

          • by St.Creed (853824)

            Hero? A funny description for a highly opportunistic asshat who recognized a bandwagon and staked his career on it.

        • I dont think they realize that with american data, will come american economic interests, which will inevitably bring american policy pressure and interference in their government.
        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Crazy politicians, crazy justice system, and privacy invading measures? That's pretty much America today anyway. If it ends up being cheaper it's still a net gain.

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          But they're marketing it to the US, so the potential customers are used to all of that already.

        • due to their crazy politicians

          What's crazy about people who dare raise their voice about the obvious fact that multicultural "feel free to come and don't bother integrating" immigration system in Europe was a major fuckup, and has resulted in significant mess that needs to be cleaned up sooner rather than later?

      • by maroberts (15852)

        Yes, but I was more concerned about the "energy output" of volcanoes such as this lot [wikipedia.org].

        "Over the past 500 years, Iceland's volcanoes have erupted a third of the total global lava output"

        Hot rocks and servers don't mix.

        • The geologically active zones are pretty well identified, and I've never heard of any of Iceland's hydroelectric dams being destroyed by earthquake or volcano. And you would hear if it happened, because it would be a major disaster -- some of those things hold enough water to sink the Netherlands.

          Iceland is of a similar size to California, and it has one of the most geologically active land-based faultlines on the planet. Yet Silicon Valley is in California.

          • by camperslo (704715)

            Not that the risk is terribly high with modern building standards, but the combined risk of earthquake, tsunami, unexpected taxes, or some hostile whacko or government doing something seems far higher in California. Not to mention the greater danger of employees taking the day off to lay in the sun.

      • In this thread, we obey the laws of thermodynamics.

    • by amalek (615708)
      I work with some of those guys. That DC is actually pretty epic - everything cooled naturally by the environment, built in England and shipped to Iceland, put together within a month.. a good job.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, better rely on the safety of California!

    • Re:Iceland??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:45AM (#39145523)

      That being the magma they use to generate around 25% of their power requirements via geothermal energy. The majority of the other 75% comes from hydroelectric. Less than 1% of their power comes from fossil fuels. They also use the geothermal energy for heating the vast majority of buildings in Iceland.

      The average temperature is also bellow 15C, afaicr, which makes cooling things a doddle.

      All things considered, I wouldn't mind living there. If their economy wasn't fucked.

      • by wisty (1335733)

        So, wages aren't too high?

        • by maroberts (15852)

          I would suspect that since the servers should all be accessible remotely you'd only require a few building maintenance and tech support guys there, so wages would not be the big issue.

        • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

          They've never been terribly high, from what I can tell. They're probably even lower now. It has a very small population too - the entire country fits in one phone book, iirc.

          • by jimshatt (1002452)
            The entire country is less than 1 cm2 on my globe! A phone book is usually printed on A4 paper or some such, so that would fit EASILY.
            • by G3ckoG33k (647276)

              Try Google Earth. That will give you some sense of how large Iceland is. It fills my 27" in no-time. Just a gentle roll on the mouse wheel.

      • Re:Iceland??? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ComaVN (325750) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:58AM (#39145567)

        If their economy wasn't fucked.

        If Iceland's economy is fucked, I'd like to know where I can sign up my country's economy for a proper rogering.

        • Re:Iceland??? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:04AM (#39145585)
          Icelands economy has recovered nicely [independent.co.uk]. So well in fact that it is making Ireland, Portugal, and Greece jealous [independent.ie].

          Quote from last link:

          ICELAND pursued better policies than Ireland or Latvia when the three countries' economies collapsed in 2007 because the Reykjavik government allowed banks to fail, according to a new report by the influential Bruegel think tank." ... "The experience with the collapse of the gigantic Icelandic banking system suggests that letting banks fail when they had a faulty business model can be the right choice," the report notes.

          • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

            Awesome. I'm happy to be wrong about that, partly because I wouldn't mind working there.

          • Awesome. However, Iceland compares with only *one* of the 6000 islands in Greece. There are probably more homeless vagrants in Athens than the total population of Iceland. It is really a quite inconsequential little rock.
            • by G3ckoG33k (647276)

              "It is really a quite inconsequential little rock."

              Which is why Microsoft refused to make an Icelandic version of Office, since Iceland had less inhabitants than a few blocks on Manhattan...

          • Re:Iceland??? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:42AM (#39146027) Homepage

            It wasn't quite "allowing the banks to fail" in the sense that the Icelandic equivalent of FDIC kicked in and the banks were nationalized, but the key thing was that Iceland spent absolutely no cash on trying to bail out holders of stocks and bonds. It's that combination of socialism and capitalism that is not uncommon in European nations: The socialism is enough to ensure that you'll survive. The capitalism means that if you're invested in a big bank, or a CEO who's made some dumb decisions, you take your losses.

            • It wasn't quite "allowing the banks to fail" in the sense that the Icelandic equivalent of FDIC kicked in and the banks were nationalized, but the key thing was that Iceland spent absolutely no cash on trying to bail out holders of stocks and bonds. It's that combination of socialism and capitalism that is not uncommon in European nations: The socialism is enough to ensure that you'll survive. The capitalism means that if you're invested in a big bank, or a CEO who's made some dumb decisions, you take your losses.

              In Soviet Russia, new overlords welcome you.

              Interestingly, your signature references "Soviet Russia". Iceland got a 4 billion Euro loan from Mother Russia. That helped. So did having a small population. It's much easier to fix problems when they are Iceland's than those of more populous countries like Greece and Portugal. Government officials in Portugal are actually encouraging Portuguese citizens to leave Portugal and move to their former colonies to find jobs. I don't think that's the kind of solution that most citizens are after.

              • by 21mhz (443080)

                Actually, when the push came to shove, Russia's finances were in a bad shape as well, so they refused [en.rian.ru] even a revised loan of $500 million.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Note that this was probably not a conscious choice by the Icelandic government, but rather pure necessity. The Icelandic banks were considerably larger compared to their government than the Irish banks. With just 300.000 citizens and a large banking section, it was obvious from the beginning that the icelandic state had absolutely no chance of bailing out the banks.

      • It sounds great when expressed in percentages. Iceland has almost no people and no industry. With a total population of about 300,000, the whole country compares poorly with a small town on the Canadian prairies and is too small for a single coal powered power station.
      • Re:Iceland??? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Dave Whiteside (2055370) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:06AM (#39145857)

        the only main sticking point is that Iceland only has 3 data cables - Europe, Scotland and Greenland - though I think another is in the pipeline to the US / Canada

        • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

          I can't imagine that linking Iceland to Canada would be hard, especially if it already has a link to Greenland.

        • Data cables? Who needs data cables? Just put the data on the cloud!

          (c)2012 Technology Management for Dummies

          • by mikael_j (106439)

            We can access the cloud using WiFi and Bluetooth! Streamed synergized multimedia content played back with software rented from the integrated Web 2.0 cloud accessed over a wireless connection is the future!

    • Re:Iceland??? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:01AM (#39145575)

      Not only that, they also have to worry about elves. The hidden people are generally friendly but they do not like being disturbed. If the data center is build in one of their areas, they might curse the data. Perhaps they already have...think about Iceland's recent economic breakdown...

      • You just have to get the trolls on your side, and you won't have anything to worry about from the elves. Trolls are highly reliable.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Personally I'd feel sorry for anybody that lives in a country so damned cold they brag "AC? bah! Just open the door and supercool your data center!....BTW has anybody seen my left nut? It fell off when that last gust from the north hit. Also i can't feel my fingers anymore so if one breaks off just hand it back okay?". Of course what do i know, i live in a state that is like a fricking jungle in the summers and here it is in late Feb and we just had an 80 degree day.
  • Innovative (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:36AM (#39145469)
    This is a great way to avoid snooping by pesky authorities. Until 5 years from now when Sweden receives the largest request for unfettered access to its systems by all those liberal, invasive governments.
    • Yup (Score:5, Informative)

      by upside (574799) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:49AM (#39145539) Journal

      As mentioned, the Swedes have declared all data passing through it free game for its security apparatus. Great for hosting your sensitive data.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_surveillance#Sweden [wikipedia.org]

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Norway and Denmark are part of NATO and have held 'European Principals Meeting' and would be networked with aspects of the GCHQ/NSA.
      If they where trusted with some of the ideas behind Sigdasys (a system to share military sigint in Europe in the 1980's) do you really think all that NSA/GCHQ contact stopped in 1991?
      Sweden offered the UK airborne elint deals during the cold war.
      The UK also worked very very well with a telco from Finland.
      Your data is as safe from the NSA as it is with any US based telco - w
      • Re:Innovative (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:07AM (#39145601)

        I think you confuse military cooperation with the possibility of industrial espionage. The two issues have nothing to do with each other. Just because you trust a network to handle shared military information doesn't mean you can or should trust the same network to handle trade secrets, financial information, or military state secrets.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Just because you trust a network to handle shared military information doesn't mean you can or should trust the same network to handle trade secrets, financial information, or military state secrets.

          Shouldn't be a big problem. As far as I know none of the Nordic countries have a history of handing over snooped information to competing companies. The same can't be said for the U.S. (The Wikileaks documents have shown that CIA still practices this behaviour.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by billcopc (196330)

      Too late. Sweden sold out years ago, in exchange for quasi-NATO privileges. They are now just as crooked as the U.S. and U.K.

    • by JosKarith (757063)
      Don't forget that the second any US-generated data is put on the servers the servers come immediately under US jurisdiciotn and are bound by US law.
      What? That's not the case? Then what the frack happened to MegaUpload...?
  • by jlar (584848) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:40AM (#39145493)

    Denmark gets most of our electricity from coal based electricity plants and a small percentage from renewable sources (mainly wind). And we have the most expensive electricity (~41 cents per kWh) in Europe and only topped by Tonga in the World. You would have to be literally insane to place an international data center here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_pricing [wikipedia.org]

    The financial industry data center is probably placed here because of sensitivity of data or because they have to be placed close to the stock exchange. Or something along that line. It is surely not because we have plentiful cheap and renewable energy.

    • by upside (574799)

      LOL, pretty interesting. So much for the common Nordic electricity market. How can Denmark have electricity twice the price of Finland?

      • by jlar (584848) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:12AM (#39145619)

        "How can Denmark have electricity twice the price of Finland?"

        Because taxes constitute half of the price. Or to put it differently: electricity is taxed by approximately 100% in Denmark. But I just read that commercial entities are exempt from some of the taxes. But even without any direct taxes we pay twice the price consumers do in the US. And that is probably caused by other types of regulation on electricity production. Our politicians have a nasty habbit of implementing hidden taxes that are subsequently paid by the consumer.

        • by GNious (953874)

          Energy-companies have generally being doing a killing in DK - prices are _also_ high to pay for exorbitant wages in the upper levels of management at DONG and its allies.

          • by Carewolf (581105)

            10 years ago the electricity prices in Denmark were the lowest in Europe, even with taxes. Something happened since then. What could it be? The only major change was that we privatized the energy companies.... Hmmm.

        • by HexaByte (817350)

          > ALL taxes are eventually paid by the consumer. Companies just pass them on as part of doing business.

    • Indeed. Unlike, say, Norway (not mentioned in TFS, idk about TFA) which uses mainly hydroelectric.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        Norway has to my knowledge not put any real effort into getting major data centers here, I remember reading some local news criticizing it. Plenty renewable energy, cool climate and overall a very stable and free society but you're not getting special tax breaks or anything like that. Unlike most countries we're not that desperate, unemployment is now 2.8% and we're trying hard now not to overheat our economy on oil income while the rest of Europe is struggling.

        • I know. I should really move back, but the UK economy isn't allowing me to make enough money to make the move :(
        • We decided not to try and get into the business because we can simply say "Fuck it, we have oil".

          Of course, the absolute ultimate server park location is Longyearbyen since we have proper power there, we have some of the biggest Internet pipes in the world there (it's where the cross arctic fibers come down), we have passive data center cooling there 9 months of the year. Other than the 75% of the nations graduates who came from BI (in otherwords useless as shit but can still sell oil), the remaining 20% ar
    • by Ries (765608)
      In 2010, Denmark got 33% of its electricity from renewable sources (and it was a bad wind year, only 80% of a normal year). The current plans will give us 52% in 2020.
      • by jlar (584848) on Friday February 24, 2012 @09:11AM (#39146181)

        "Denmark got 33% of its electricity from renewable sources (and it was a bad wind year, only 80% of a normal year)."

        That is only half true. 33% of the electricity _production_ was from renewable sources. Not the consumption. The problem is that wind energy is fluctuating with the wind speed. We are therefore exporting surplus wind energy at very low prices during peak production periods and importing expensive electricity (which can be renewable, e.g. from Swedish nuclear plants) during calm periods. And even worse: every one of these cheap kWh that we export are subsidized by Danish consumers.

        But my main point is: We do not effectively get 33% of the electricity of the electricity that we consume from renewable sources (and implicitly ~20% from wind energy). According to a recent study we actually only consume half of the wind energy in Denmark (i.e. 10%).

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          That is only half true. 33% of the electricity _production_ was from renewable sources. Not the consumption. The problem is that wind energy is fluctuating with the wind speed. We are therefore exporting surplus wind energy at very low prices during peak production periods and importing expensive electricity (which can be renewable, e.g. from Swedish nuclear plants) during calm periods. And even worse: every one of these cheap kWh that we export are subsidized by Danish consumers.

          It works both ways, and muc

    • by billcopc (196330)

      That Wikipedia page only lists the gross price of electricity. Where I live (Ontario, Canada), there are several extra fees tacked on to the hydro bill, notably the "debt retirement charge", which is the result of our idiot ministers privatizing the government-owned power grid so cheaply that after the sale, we were left with 20 billion in debt. The net cost of electricity here is noticeably higher, and I suspect similar nickel-and-diming occurs elsewhere in the world.

      Privatized hydro... did I mention th

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nonsense. That price only apply for private individuals. Industry and commercial users get it for half this price.

  • by xtal (49134) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:54AM (#39145545)

    Energy is one thing. Ability to actually protect data from warrantless search and monitoring is another.

  • by Suomi-Poika (453539) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:14AM (#39145627)
    Too bad we were forgotten from TFA, in 2009 Google placed their server farm to an old paper mill in Hamina. Now the 5th nuclear power plant (1800MW, what we buy from abroads now) is "soon" completed (before 2015 I hope) and two more are coming.

    We have cheap co2 free electricity and cold weather. I believe Finland is going to get a lot of data centers because in addition of chilly weather and good infrastructure here companies can buy a portion of nuclear power producer and get tax free electricity from their "own" nuclear power station. Other Nordic countries do not have such arrangements, there you pay the market price of electricity even if you own a power producer.
    • by Skal Tura (595728) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:25AM (#39147717) Homepage

      The nature of my job makes me research the situation constantly. Problem is high transit costs in Finland. Cheapest i've found is 1.3€/Mbps as a special deal commitment in a small business budget range, above that HE.net was willing to come to Finland for min. 5Gbps commitment at 10k $ which would be currently 1.52€/Mbps.
      Goto central Europe and you can get transit at 0.8€/Mbps, and Peering will actually be a huge net benefit. But here in Finland you got to stick mostly with transit.

      Transport prices are also high, so you cannot connect to say AMS-IX on the cheap neither because the transport costs takes you to near transit prices.

      Still, most Finnish companies are charging around 5-7€/Mbps of transit. Colocation prices are not cheap neither. Many of the DCs i see has huge chillers and do not depend upon outside weather to be cold at all, infact, seems quite to the contrary.

      Peering is next to useless in Finland too because of the FICIX peering monopoly, and the only worthwhile peers won't peer with you unless you are ready to pay in total more than transit, ie. Elisa wants you to hook up on all FICIX locations which will bring the cost of exchanged data way too high, seeing that FICIX peering amount is quite low. Also Elisa is nasty to peer with, and the peering will not work properly.

      The choice of Transit providers is also very limited compared to Sweden.

      Also, if you are on off-net location the costs skyrocket to around 15€/Mbps with 1Gbps commit, even if doesn't require any new fiber to be laid out.

      However, new DCs are being build constantly, there was several new majors ones built last year alone, one of which has military spec physical security (old military bunker or something).

      The transit prices are not insane high, but they are definitively not competitive. Same goes for electricity.

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:24AM (#39145941)

    The best part about this initiative from my perspective is that these data centers rarely wind up in Stockholm (where a lot of the other IT and dev jobs are) but rather in smaller cities up north where power and land are cheap. And while a data center itself might not bring all that many jobs (I believe I read somewhere that the estimate for Facebook's data center in Luleå was something like 30 to 50 permanent jobs) it does mean that infrastructure is put in place which makes the region more attractive to other companies looking to build data centers. It is also likely to create jobs in the surrounding area and long-term it prevents "brain drain" in the form of skilled workers moving to Stockholm, Malmö och Göteborg just to find work.

  • by Dunbal (464142) *
    Yes I want to move all my data to a country that has proven it is willing to roll over for foreign governments - nay, foreign movie industries... What could possibly go wrong. Of course one the data is all in Sweden I can imagine that suddenly Sweden will be receiving a lot of "terrorism-related enquiries and please hand over all the servers" by the US and other countries.
  • Nordic countries can't compete internationally because their labor laws are insane. Everyone gets paid a lot of money, they can't be made to work very hard, about 99% of the calendar is a paid holiday, there's a lavish benefit for everything from paternity leave to trash collection day and all labor disputes are decided in favor of who resembles Sesame Street the most.

    • Yeah, Nordic countries can't compete because they've banned the whip and insisted that people are treated at least a little better than caged hens.

      Nordic operations are generally very efficient and effective. Why? Because overworked, overtired, overstressed workers make mistakes. Nordic labour laws go a long way to preventing people becoming overworked, overtired or overstressed. So Nordic workers make less mistakes.

      Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Do you want your data centre run by monkeys?

      • by gelfling (6534)

        Be that as it may this is the world you live in. When you spend $2000 for an iPad made in a panda friendly environment, let me know.

        • If Apple were a Scandinavian company, the phrase "holding it wrong" would never have entered our vocabulary.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Skal Tura (595728)

      LOL!
      I guess you don't live in Finland.
      Wages here are tiny, taxes are insane high.
      In Finland you will know what it means to be POOR.
      If you have a job you are in worse situation than unemployed people are, and the slightest, smallest, surprise expense can make you efficiently pay for working, unless your salary is VERY high even in capital area terms.
      The total tax rate for minimum wage is about 60%, if you are educated skill worker earning well tax rate can be 90%, it's just hidden mostly.

      From 3k € gross

      • by St.Creed (853824)

        So after you have paid for everything, including a vacation to the Caribbeans, you can still save 2K per year? Wow. That's amazing - it's almost exactly the same as in most other rich EU countries. And much better than in the poorer EU countries.

        Colour me unimpressed by the depraved conditions in which you have to suffer your "poverty".

        • by Skal Tura (595728)

          That's not 2k € a year in SAVINGS, but the budget for: Health care, clothing, misc expenses, furnishing your apt, hobbies etc etc.
          That was for higher mid wage income level, quite few gets to enjoy that level of income. I know a lot of people who gross half of that, and even those who consider to having an OK income are getting in some 70% of that only.

          2k € a year is *NOTHING*, unless you live very frugally, forget smart phones, forget high quality clothes, forget health care, forget hobbies.

          450

  • The USA doesn't have any locations (like Wyoming, Colorado or the Dakotas) with an abundance of cheap energy, high speed data connections and local cheap power.

    How about selling political stability and business climate?

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Friday February 24, 2012 @12:08PM (#39148273)

    The last five years it has been interesting to see deficits turned into opportunities. In this article, it's the unrelenting cold of Scandinavia being used to cool the heat engines known as servers. In the American Midwest it has been turning the unrelenting winds, which used to be cursed and inveighed against, into wind power that is putting more money in people's pockets than they've seen in 100 years.

    I am far from capitalism's fan, but it does occasionally produce results better than its proponents intended.

  • The Facebook data center in Luleå will use about 100 megawatts electricity, while the steelworks only uses 80-90. Just using the waste heat from the center is enough to to supply 40.000 houses with heating... though the waste heat from the steelworks is already used for that... so the waste heat from the center will just be eh... wasted...

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