Hydro66 is leading the way in data compute and storage solutions for the future, with its ultra-low emissions data center in the north of Sweden. Here, progressive companies store and process their data leveraging a data center design which optimizes cost and performance and minimizes environmental impact.
When David Rowe decided to start Hydro66 a couple of years ago, it was with a clear ambition and aim – to create a step-change in options for the data storage and compute market. One step ahead of the major IT giants, David saw a widening gap between current storage capacity and the enormous growth in data computing. He therefore decided to map the challenges and possibilities with designing, building and operating a high standard hyperscale data campus which could keep up with computing development over 10, 20 or even 30 years. Together with a team of telecom and IT professionals, David quickly came to the conclusion that there were a handful of main challenges that needed to be met.
“The digitalization of sectors all over the world was creating an unstoppable tsunami of data, which in turn created a huge demand for processing and storage solutions. Secondly, power was going to be one of the main issues – many of the urban grids are either running out of power or have to enforce punishing lead times and costs for delivery. Lastly, sustainability requirements were only going in one direction. Combined, these three factors were putting enormous pressure on both space and power and cost for housing data infrastructure.”
A rampant increase in power usage
Data centers are extremely power intensive and because the majority of European facilities are built in and around big cities, they add stress to already over-stretched electricity grids. Further, these urban grids tend to be unreliable, so data center operators respond by adding a lot of capital intensive equipment to strengthen their building against power outages.
This, in turn, makes building costs extremely high. Add an overwhelming amount of data and it is no surprise that IT budgets for data hosting started to become larger and larger relative to the size of businesses. There was a clear need for cost-optimized yet scalable solutions. And while moving some workloads to cloud providers was part of the solution, many organisations wanted help with data center infrastructure controlled by them.
“We decided to focus on a scenario where we could provide the most cost-efficient solutions possible, while still maintaining a strong focus on sustainable development. Taking into account what we expect to be a rampant increase in power usage in the future, due to industrial decarbonisation, IoT, 5G and Edge Computing, we started looking at where we could find power that was clean, scalable and low-cost.”
A unique data campus design
After intense research, Hydro66 located the perfect region to invest in. The north of Sweden, namely Luleå and Boden, offered a huge amount of scalable hydropower from river power plants that were already constructed. It was abundant, reliable and truly sustainable
“The majority of this power is not utilized locally today, so we knew it was a perfect spot to establish our business. We also recognized Sweden as a great place to do business: the people are smart and very open, and there is a modern, progressive government which encourages green investments. This was where we wanted to build for the future.”
Having decided on the region to invest, Hydro66 developed a unique solution which gives them all the electricity that their customers need directly adjacent to the point of generation. It includes multiple hydro dams to provide building resilience, maximum one hour per year in estimated downtime (and so far no downtime at all), and a modular design which enables flexible scalability. The sustainable data center is built to benefit from the naturally cool climate in the north of Sweden.
” This design has won several industry awards and allows us to maintain customer prices as low as possible while still offering the highest quality of service. Meanwhile, we also generate the minimum possible carbon and water footprint – our data center design uses about 90% less power than the EU average and about 25 times less water.”
Optimizes workloads in real time
While Hydro66 were bold pioneers in establishing a data center in the northern parts of Sweden, recently many large public cloud companies have followed in their footsteps and the region has rapidly formed a Nordic Super Cloud, away from Western European data centers. David Rowe emphasizes that competitors of Hydro66 are moving their compute and storage solutions for all the right reasons, and he encourages more companies to do so.\
“We’d like to think of ourselves the gold standard when it comes to green data center environments, and it’s really heartening to see others begin their journey to net zero computing. We only finished our campus a year ago, and we already have plenty of local business, cloud service providers, AI and Machine Learning, as well as a number of businesses in fintech solutions. This used to be one size fits all, but not anymore – we help companies move their workloads in realtime to optimize both cost, performance and environmental impact, to see how data can be best processed and stored. The market is maturing and we want to stay ahead of that curve.” he concluded.