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Data Centres and Rugby: More in Common Than You May Think

One of the things I enjoy most about rugby is the strong team spirit found throughout the sport. While there certainly are individual superstars, no long-term, successful rugby team wins based on a singular person. It’s nearly impossible for one player to beat a well-organized team that can execute a synchronised shift in strategy on the pitch, as the best teams are able to do.

In rugby the forwards and backs serve very different purposes on the field, but both must work together to move the ball over the try line. It’s not all that different from the data centre industry here in Ireland. The forwards secure and protect the ball and move the team into a scoring position. They are not much different from the infrastructure partners in the data centre industry who provide the security, power and foundation - construction, fibre, engineering, etc - for the industry as a whole. They must all work in sync to, literally, lay the groundwork for today’s digital revolution.

The backs are more agile and must respond quickly to the action on the field. This is the data centre operator themselves. Regardless if they are a large hyperscaler, a co-location provider or a private data centre, each needs to respond to the changing market dynamics and individual business needs of their customers and their data requirements. If, for example, we look at the impact of smart devices on the data centre industry, we are beginning to see a redefinition of what and where is the most optimum place for the processing, storage and compute power for data. The agility required of the application or service is changing the conversation to a best "fit for purpose" solution rather than "a take it or leave it " approach of the old days.

Even the ball itself merits an analogy. For Host in Ireland, the “ball” is promoting Ireland as a development centre of excellence for data hosting. The team strategy is the “co-opetition” that is the heart of how we work together. A textbook definition of co-opetition is a strategic alliance that is seen to yield in market expansion and further success in the industry. The practical application is in how Host in Ireland’s partners come together as a collective, despite, in many cases, being competitors - rather like Munster, Leinster, Connaught and Ulster players coming together as Ireland. Our partner companies share ideas and engage in creative collaboration for the sake of the data centre industry in Ireland.

Ireland scored a try in Q1 2019 when the Dublin Metro Area was named Europe’s largest data centre cluster by JLL, surpassing the other EU Tier 1 locations of Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris for the first time. This was a strong endorsement for Europe’s “Data Isle” and its ability to supply the expertise, skills and overall regulatory environment needed to support the growth of the hosting industry.

As we look into the next decade, we can take further inspiration from team Ireland. When Ireland beat the New Zealand all-conquering All Blacks team in November 2018, the New Zealand Times noted Ireland were "brave, creative and relentless" in achieving their win. That same spirit is going to be required when it comes to solving critical issues like renewably

Garry Connolly

Founder Host In Ireland



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