Edgar Van Essen
Managing Director of Switch DataCentres
Switch Datacenters is an Amsterdam-based data centre provider that has been at the forefront of the region’s sustainability focus for the last 15 years.
According to Edgar Van Essen, Managing Director of Switch Datacenters, the Amsterdam market is a particularly difficult one.
“The main challenges in the Amsterdam market are about sustainability. There's a lot of political pressure in this regard, and it all comes back to people not understanding what data centres are about,” Van Essen explains.
But, unexpectedly, Van Essen says that because Amsterdam has always been leading this trend towards high sustainability demands, it has proven to be a major advantage of developing solutions there.
“Once you have a working solution in Amsterdam, the chance that you can copy-paste it into Frankfurt, Dublin, and the others is pretty high. If you start the other way around – develop something in London and then try to get into Amsterdam – the likelihood that you will fail is pretty big,” Van Essen asserts.
“So, it's all about understanding what is the best spot to start developing a new data centre formula. And we are 100% convinced that Amsterdam is the perfect ground for that. Not only due to the size of the market, but also the political environment we are in.”
Communicating sustainability – how to get the public on-board
Despite the fact that the data centre industry is full of pioneering sustainability advocates, each of whom are developing sophisticated, future-proof green solutions, it’s still a challenge to reverse the state of public opinion.
So, how can companies that are leading the charge towards a greener future establish the right reputation in their marketplace and successfully demonstrate their sustainability commitment to the public?
Despite currently being a relatively small industry player, Van Essen explains how Switch is renowned for being a major presence on the sustainability stage and, therefore, a key voice in these global discussions.
“We're a very active member of all the forward-looking innovation committees in the global industry, and we try to contribute there as much as we can. We've been very active in the Open Compute Platform, for instance; we're also one of the founding members of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance and a member of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact.”
It is through these market differentiators that Switch has been able to establish a unique, immensely strong relationship with its network of partners.
“Our partners see that we're the odd one out – the new kids on the block, in a certain way. They’re also seeing that we're growing quite substantially. So now, we are really on a lot of innovation calls with really big suppliers,” Van Essen explains.
“They start to understand what we're doing and to see the value of our approach. So that actually brings us into very strong strategic alliances. Despite the fact that we don’t have the volumes of the really large data centres, we still get the same level of attention, because we bring much more to the table than just volume.”
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