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France: a paradise for data centers

Posted by Invest in France Agency in Sectors of excellence the 19 April 2010

Today, 25% of growth worldwide lies in the digital economy. As ‘virtual’ as this economy may seem, it depends on very real physical infrastructure: data centers. Trade associations in telecommunications and electrical equipment engineering came together in 2009 to form “France for data centers”, seeking to prove that France is in fact an ideal host country.

Virginia Tech - data center’ by cbowns on flickr

‘Virginia Tech - data center’ by cbowns on flickr

These large metal cabinets house crucial components of the global economy. The internet would simply not exist without them. Every financial transaction for banks, stock markets and companies travels through them. It goes without saying that choosing where to locate data centers is a matter for serious consideration…

France’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, the quality of its transport infrastructure and low property costs are among the many advantages that bolster the country’s strong case for hosting scores of data centers. According to Nelly Recrosio, head of EDF’s corporate marketing division’s “eco-efficient energy products” department, there are some 100,000 m² of data centers being built throughout the country every year, which currently puts France in third place in Europe, with 78 data centers.

A highly skilled French industry

A data center has to ensure that thousands of computer applications keep working all the time. Data center management requires an extremely highly skilled workforce. France also has the capability to provide skilled personnel, bring in young graduates and offer cutting-edge professional training.

Moreover, France has numerous suppliers that can provide an inventory of spare parts and on-call support staffing, on-site or near data centers.

TelecityGroup recognized these advantages in France and opened its third data center in Aubervilliers, Ile-de-France on January 18, 2010. The British group invested €48 million to build this 3,800 m² facility.  

Energy-hungry monsters

Data centers also require massive amounts of energy. A 25,000 m² center consumes the equivalent of a city with a population of 50,000, which is why data centers must have a reliable low carbon source of electricity at competitive stable rates. France offers a number of advantages in this area:

  • The average cost (exc. taxes) per MWh in France is €58.70 compared to €112.50 in Ireland, for example.
  • Market regulations guarantee stable electricity rates and a reliable supply.
  • Renewable energies are well established in France’s national grid, making French electricity among the cleanest in Europe with 42.5 g of CO2 equivalent per KWh, compared with the European average of about 350 g.
  • The French electricity market allows competition, which provides an option to choose different sources of power managed by a variety of suppliers.

On February 2, 2010, IBM officially opened a new 10,000 m² data center on the outskirts of Lille (Nord-Pas-de-Calais). It will be operational in late 2010 and this new center is steadfast on going ‘green’, using integrated electricity saving solutions (motion detectors, timers, etc.) and other technologies to guide, manage and monitor energy spending.

More recently, HP and EDF signed a partnership agreement to provide a total data center solution, thereby reducing their electricity consumption.

Read about another example of a data center in France, the British Galileo Connect project in Val d’Europe.


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