Is Europe running out of data centres?

Is demand for EU-based data centre storage about to explode?

It depends on what the fallout is of the EU's plans to pass data localisation regulations, especially as it would appear to conflict with its plans to have a digital single marketplace.

"We do expect to see an uptick in demand for local data centre storage as companies grapple with maintaining compliance," says Giardina. "However, it is not enough to simply store data locally – the cloud security technologies that are applied to the infrastructure must be sufficient enough to protect company data and regulatory compliance."

David Barker, Technical Director at 4D

David Barker, Technical Director at 4D

If data localisation becomes law, then there will be a surge of demand for storage within countries' borders, but that's a trend in any case – demand for data centre space within major hub sites such as London, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam is firmly on the rise.

"Demand is likely to be driven by a continued need to store the data that users are generating in an exponential fashion," says Barker, "along with more business practices being moved to a hosted software, SaaS-based delivery rather than on-premises solutions."

Can a spike in demand for EU-based data centres be met?

Not if the industry starts planning now. Data centres take about three years to plan and build before they come online, so there could be an issue a few years down the road. "But short term there is a fair amount of available and built-out technical space available within major markets," says Barker. According to, there are currently 1,051 colocation data centres in 24 countries in Western Europe, compared to 1,719 in the USA.

Hot and cold data

There's also the fact that there are two types of data to cater for here. "There are many new technologies that allow customers to transparently access 'hot' data locally and 'cold' data in the cloud," says Giardina, referring to both data that's frequently accessed on fast storage, and data that's rarely accessed and kept on the slowest storage.

This is the hybrid model of cloud computing, which combines both private data centres and private clouds with public clouds. "There is a push towards having more visibility into and control over cloud resources," says Giardina.

4D's HQ in Surrey, UK

4D's HQ in Surrey, UK

Who does data localisation benefit?

Though it might give politicians who have promised to keep citizens' data safe from the US government something to shout about, the effects of localising data could have darker unintended consequences.

"Forcing data localisation will only benefit large-scale businesses who have the resources to establish local data centres and hosting facilities within a country," says Barker, who insists that remotely hosted data isn't necessarily a security risk or a problem provided the correct controls, access policies and encryption are used. "Small to medium-sized businesses won't be able to take the risk and expense of opening more facilities just to host a potentially small fraction of their client base, and so will likely cease trading in countries that require data localisation."

That applies to the public cloud, too – only the likes of AWS and Microsoft have the resources to react quickly to changing government regulations. "Smaller providers will likely be squeezed out of markets across the EU where localisation is required," says Barker.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),