Are Irish Data Center Claims Valid?

Data centers in Ireland have many benefits, according to the Irish government. These claims, however, must be scrutinized and challenged.

The Irish government has a document on data centers that reads more like the talking points of an industry lobbyist than a carefully thought-through analysis of the true worth and costs of data centers.

Below is an analysis of the claimed benefits.

Claimed Benefits of Data Centers vs. Reality

Benefit: Data center technology supports a wide range of sectors in Ireland.

My response: Vague and meaningless. There is no particular technical benefit of being physically close to your data.

Benefit: Data centers, as a form of inward investment, tend to have long life spans.

My response: Not really. An average data center building will last about 25 years, with the hyperscale facilities expected to last 15 to 20 years.

Benefit: Data centers of scale are another demonstration of Ireland’s position as an attractive place to invest, live and work.

My response: Vague and meaningless. The whole idea of the Internet and particularly the cloud is that you and your data can live and work from anywhere, that you are not locked into a physical location.

Benefit: Data center activities and services employ highly-skilled individuals. Ireland’s focus on ensuring we develop and attract the talent needed by 21st Century enterprise underpins our reputation and attractiveness as a location with a highly-skilled workforce.

My response: Not really. Data centers employ very few people. Irish data centers employ about 1,800 people, while consuming 14% of Irish electricity. If data centers consumed 100% of Irish electricity, they would still only be able to deliver 13,000 jobs. There are precious few high-skilled roles. Most are shift work jobs involving medium technical skills. For the local community, there might be a few jobs in security and cleaning.

Related Article: Enormous, Toxic Waste in Digital Design

It’s a Google, Microsoft and Amazon World

Benefit: Data center development in Ireland signals our ability to provide and support world class infrastructures and data management/protection.

My response: OK, sure. But really data centers are like islands of sovereignty. It is Google, Microsoft and Amazon who control and manage the data.

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