Does the data centre sector have an image problem?

Jul 7, 2021

The data centre boom is not showing any signs of slowing down and over the last 6 weeks I have noticed an unprecedented amount of projects being announced or commencing construction. We are seeing a mixture of projects from the major hyperscale developments to refit and refurbishments of the localisation data centres. There doesn’t seem to be many countries in Europe that don’t currently have a data centre under construction or in the final stages of planning with live projects in London, Dublin, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, etc etc.

I first recruited for the data centre sector in 2006 during the financial boom (yes I am that old!) and I have always found it difficult to predict how the sector will evolve in the coming 12-18 months but I think we can all be confident that the sector will continue to see unprecedented growth across the globe.

Below is a snapshot of some of the recent project news;

I am currently working with our in house marketing team on a number of reports around the current challenges within the data centre sector. The issues that continue to be discussed mainly revolve around the skills shortage and what needs to be done to attract more engineers into the industry. This is obviously correct and we are seeing major advances in the education and training within the sector, all of which will hopefully help to ease the skill shortage in the long term.
But is the issue right now more of an image problem?
Data centres should be ‘cool’ but they are in fact the unknown… How many people don’t even know what a data centre is? How many people don’t know why they exist? The majority of people have no idea where they are and wouldn’t know one if they walked into it… (Which is possible as they rarely have clearly defined doors!).
In May this year Data Economy published an interview with Tony Jacob (VP Design & Construction EMEA – Digital Realty) and Paul Cossell (CEO ISG) titled ‘The silent $45bn Industry you should know more about.’. The headline itself tells you all you need to know.. The industry is HUGE, yet perceived as a kind of sleeping giant. The sector has fallen behind the likes of energy, renewable’s and infrastructure, largely as a result of the media presence of these industries and the global push for renewable energy and reduced carbon emissions. Nobody is talking about how the new data centres under construction are working towards 100% renewable energy and that the data centre sector is ahead of the game with utilising renewable energies and reducing carbon footprint.
Darren Watkins (MD) of Virtus recently produced an interesting document on ‘Future proofing the work-force’ and he ended his report by stating that the industry needs to ‘build the awareness of the sector’.

In my opinion the times are changing and data centres are now becoming more of a talking point within engineering and construction, but equally the industry still needs to work harder to bring the sector to the forefront of the engineering and construction industry. Evolution within the design of data centres will help to bring the projects to the fore, it will help defend the argument that data centres are basically big sheds full of computers..

What can be done? I guess it is up to people like myself and those that work within the industry to do what they can to spread the awareness of the opportunities that exist within the sector. Speak to the engineers and project managers in other sectors and advise them why they should consider opportunities in the data centre sector.
We all need to shout louder about the sector and tell everyone what a diverse industry it is and what an array of opportunities are on offer…

As a business we work with some of leading clients in the data centre industry and I am having a lot of positive conversations about forward project pipelines and new facilities going live in the coming months.

Our data centre team is as busy as ever and has a number of excellent opportunities within the construction phase of data centres, and also the ongoing FM and maintenance sector for existing and new facilities.

Please get in contact if you are interested in discussing new opportunities or if you are a client looking to partner with a specialist recruitment company that really understands the data centre and high technology sectors.