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Microsoft seeks planning permission for another Dublin datacentre

Software giant will have to wait until August to see if the application for its latest Irish facility has been accepted

Microsoft is preparing to increase its datacentre footprint in Ireland, after submitting a planning permission application for a new 7,609 square metres facility in County Dublin.

Microsoft Operations Ireland, the software giant’s Irish arm, submitted the application to South Dublin County Council on 21 May 2015, and will have to wait until 12 August 2015 to find out if its bid has been successful.

Meanwhile, a report in the Irish Independent suggests the facility will cost around €70m to build.

If approved, the datacentre will be the fifth facility of its kind the company has built at the Grange Castle International Business Park in Clondalkin, County Dublin since 2007.

According to the application’s supporting documents, the new facility is required to ensure the firm is equipped to cope with the growing demand for cloud computing services. 

“These facilities are designed to meet Microsoft Ireland’s datacentre server requirements based on projections completed in 2007,” the document states.

“Since that time, the demand for online services has expanded exponentially and the proposed datacentre is required to allow Microsoft to meet an ever-growing worldwide demand for the services it offers over the internet.”

Computer Weekly contacted Microsoft for further details about the site, but was told it had nothing to share on the planning application at this time.

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Reasons to build an Irish datacentre

Microsoft isn’t the only tech giant looking to build out its datacentre portfolio in Ireland either, as The Irish Times recently reported that Facebook is planning to build a €200m facility in Clonee, County Meath.

Tony Lock, distinguished analyst at market watcher Freeform Dynamics, said there are many reasons why Ireland is such a popular destination for US tech firms, with its economy and networking links all playing a part.

“Ireland has good networking links with the UK and the rest of Europe, and equally so with the US, so there is good connectivity both ways. Then there is the skillset of the local population, many of whom are multi-lingual and this makes it easier to do European-level support,” said Lock.

“Ireland is also within the European Union [EU] so legally meets some of the location criteria that states datasets must be held within the borders of the EU.”

The Irish government’s propensity for providing datacentre operators with tax breaks is also a big lure for overseas firms, added 451 Research vice-president of research for datacentre technologies Andy Lawrence.

“The Irish government makes sure that this is a very attractive place to build a datacentre and has given a lot of tax breaks to datacentre builders, generally speaking, in terms of income tax and VAT, and has taken steps to smooth out the regulatory process,” he said.

In some cases, these deals have been subject to scrutiny by the EU, resulting in long-running investigations, said Lawrence, but that doesn’t seem to put people off setting up shop there.

Ireland’s temperate climate, which negates the need to operate costly mechanical cooling systems for a large portion of the year, is another big draw.

“Datacentres can be run much more efficiently in temperate climates and at significantly lower cost if they do not use mechanically aided chillers to reduce the temperature in the datacentre, and use modern fresh-air cooling techniques instead. Dublin is one of the best places in the world for that,” said Lawrence.

“It is perfectly possible to run your datacentre 300 days, maybe more, without any mechanical chillers at all. You could probably go right to 100% by pushing it a little bit,” he added.

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