At the heart of digitalization
The headlines in recent months are testimony to enormous dynamism, “Soon, 5,000 Google employees in Zurich,” “Russian IT giant establishes location in Switzerland,” “Facebook opens research location in Zurich,” “Apple recruits scientists in computer vision and robotics for its Swiss lab,” “Amazon Web Services opens Swiss office.”
he enthusiasm of the global digital industry for Switzerland also has to do with its excellent data infrastructure. In the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2018, the country moved up three places to an excellent 5th place, ahead of all neighboring countries. According to the World Economic Forum, Switzerland even ranks first worldwide in the penetration of broadband subscriptions. An important part of this infrastructure – at the heart of digitalization so to speak – are data centers where data is stored.
And here of all places, there is a blind spot. So far, the providers of the most important “clouds” do not yet have their own servers in Switzerland. The outsourcing of services “into the cloud” is one of the most important trends in digitalization. Data is no longer stored on a hard disk or server. Instead, it is distributed over the Internet on a cloud provider’s servers. Software no longer needs to be installed and executed on a local device. It is simply retrieved from the Internet, i.e., the cloud.
However, many companies have not yet taken advantage of these highly efficient cloud solutions. Above all for reasons of data security. In the financial industry, for example, the law requires certain data to be stored in Switzerland.
“At Silicon Valley level”
In the future, it will be possible to store data in the cloud – and still remain in Switzerland. As of today, three of the top five cloud providers have already announced expansion in Switzerland. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a representative office, while Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are planning to set up server locations. Google argued that “the central location in Europe” makes the country “an attractive location for the cloud.” Green CEO Frank Boller expects all leading cloud providers to have servers in Switzerland in the medium term. “This opens up great opportunities for the entire Swiss business world.”
According to the CEO of Green Datacenter AG, local companies benefit directly and indirectly from this trend, “New possibilities are emerging for hybrid strategies that combine cloud solutions and traditional data center services.” In addition, “Switzerland is developing into an important data location in the heart of Europe – to the benefit of all companies.” “Large, commercial data center operators in particular are anticipating the coming developments and are already building their infrastructures at world-class level,” says Boller. In view of the high data volume, it is essential to constantly optimize the power density: more data in less space. But also with regard to power requirements and connection to the Internet (“connectivity”), ever higher demands will have to be met in the future.
Green is currently investing CHF 70 million in the construction of a new high-density data center with 3,600 square meters of usable space in Lupfig. The data center will meet the highest industry standards. Unlike a conventional server farm, the building will not only set new standards in performance and energy efficiency, it will also offer additional amenities for both national and international customers – such as offices, emergency workstations, and a meeting zone. The opening is planned for 2019.