The implantation of Google’s new datacenter in Bissen is no longer a chimera. It is now a real national opportunity for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to become a technological hub at the heart of Europe. The country that really wants to become a major player in the Fintech revolution, will largely benefit from the impulse of such a venue. Google is surely a master trump for the influence of Luxembourg’s well engaged digital mutation. Since last Monday a very important decision has enabled the arrival of one of GAFAM’s leader.
The punctual modification of the PAG (Plan d’Aménagement Général – General Layout Plan), makes the building of Google’s datacenter possible. It will be constructed at the place said Busbierg Datacenter, on a 35 hectares land acquired by the giant of Mountain View in 2017. The “PAG” had to be modified in order to host this very special type of industrial installation. Its quality had to be shifted from green zone to special purpose zone. This kind of reallocation is quite uncommon and often prone to dissent, especially from ecological organizations. Because of the nature of the opportunities it represents, the project was closely supervised by both Grand Duchy’s Prime Minister and Vice Prime Minister.
A billion-dollar investment
Both Google and Luxembourg authorities are conscient of the importance of the vast benefits that can emerge from this national project. It will create jobs and revenues for the country, which is already hosting 19 other datacenters. It will also infuse technological knowledge and give access to advanced skills and equipment that are otherwise hard to find. It is exactly the things the country needs for it to be on top of the digital mutation. The closer companies are to the datacenters, the faster they can access and process information. The development of datacenters has been proven to be a great business incubator.
The settlement of the datacenter in Bissen is a real win/win project. With the new rules concerning EU GDPR, Google is securing all data which are placed on servers in Europe. All European governments are deeply concerned by extraterritorial American law enforcement. The US government has the power to inspect and manipulate all information hosted by American companies, even if these data are hosted outside of the US. By creating datacenters on EU soil, local institutions will get more control over whatever is stored on their land.
It has been 8 years now that the European Union has launched the antitrust investigations into Google for violating the EU’s competition laws due to its dominant position on the internet market. The company has been fined over 6 billion euros for trusting commercial activities with Google Shopping and locking the smartphone market with Android. It seems that these times are over now, and it looks that Google wants to play fair game. That’s very good news for the EU which preserves its sovereignty while Google can keep its market shares on a very dynamic continent.
Even if initiatives like Qwant, the French search engine, are still in their infancy, there’s no doubt that digital culture will evolve toward a greater will to preserve intimacy and online private life. Google strategists have surely understood that the European sense of privacy is quite different from the American one. By settling its datacenters all over Europe (2 in Ireland, 1 in Belgium, 1 in the Netherlands and 1 in Finland) Google is certainly willing to get closer to the social preoccupations of its European customers.
Respect of the environment
Datacenters are known for the high impact they have on environment. They do use a lot of energy resources when electricity is mainly converted into warmth. These giant computer farms are often installed close to natural energy sources likes dams or equipped with vast solar panel installations. In Luxembourg over 41.000 square meters are occupied by very high profile datacenters. Eight out of 19 of these information mills are certified to be Tier IV installations. This means that the Uptime Institute, their certification authority, grants that they are service interruption free.
This very high level of proficiency might be an issue when considering energy resources at Bissen. The reallocation of the green zone to special zone must take this parameter into consideration. Local nature shall not be impacted by new activities, even if they are of a national strategical interest. Having technology working in harmony with nature is a challenge that both the Grand Duchy authorities and Google executives should consider with deep concern. If both parties can succeed to have the project being as green as it is useful for the destiny of Luxembourg, and of course to the wealth of Google’s shareholders, this will really be exemplary for the whole European Union.