Datacenter Fryslân emerges as hub of digital
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Datacenter Fryslân emerges as hub of digital infrastructures

NOM looks back: How are the companies NOM participated in in the past actually doing? In this column, we look back with entrepreneurs at the development between then and now.

Else Maria van der Meulen's visionary outlook - together with a solid growth plan - was the decisive factor for NOM to co-finance the DataCenter Fryslân more than ten years ago. The gap in the market has been more than filled ever since. Inspired, the director tells how her Frisian 'hub' seems to be developing into the regional hub of digital infrastructures in the year 2018.

It all started with a tiny data center at DataDiensten Fryslân, the other company of the enterprising Else Maria. "That was more of a broom closet, but there appeared to be a great need for a data center among our Frisian customers. So the establishment of DataCenter Fryslân (DCF) in 2008 was a hit. The Leeuwarden-based company serves regional customers from the healthcare, education, government and ICT sectors, helping to shape digital developments in the Frisian region. Back in 2014, it was high time for a second branch. 'We were at our maximum on the Francois HaverSmidtwei, while demand kept growing,' Else Maria explains. 'Moreover, as a data center with two locations, we offer more security and continuity.'

Infrastructure as a service

In addition to providing professional housing for data and telecommunications equipment of larger organizations, DCF gives other entrepreneurs in the region the opportunity to offer ICT services hosted in the data center, such as cloud service. The data center itself is also considering a move toward service offerings, prompted by customer requests and ICT partners. 'We now rent out bare racks where customers can safely place their hardware, but we notice that companies want to get rid of that 'ironwork'. We are therefore orienting ourselves to a platform with which we can offer customers what they need in terms of digital infrastructure, from capacity and computing power to service storage. This year we are delving further into that so-called IAAS - infrastructure as a service - because we want to be ready for the future.'

Digital hub

Creating an accessible, secure Frisian cloud: that is what the DCF is ultimately working toward. 'With continuity as the main goal,' Else Maria emphasizes. 'All actions and developments in our data center are dominated by continuity, so that our customers are always provided with a digital infrastructure.

Datacenter Fryslân emerges as hub of digital infrastructures

In that respect, we are increasingly acting as a hub in Friesland, because parties such as KPN and KabelNoord also come out here. We are developing into a hub from which service providers can provide all of Friesland with digital services. Facilitating this is important to us, which is why we joined With this regional partnership we are working - in line with Economic Affairs - on cybersecurity and stimulating the IT labor market in the North.'

Combining knowledge and forces

As a visionary entrepreneur, Else Maria always looks ahead and beyond the borders of her own company. 'Precisely as a data center we have an important role in the digitalization of facilities such as healthcare and education and the Frisian business community. By combining knowledge, skills and strengths within we can give a stronger impulse to IT developments in this region. This in turn will benefit us as DCF. It is thanks to my enthusiastic team that I have the space to actively engage in movements outside DCF, in addition to the internal focus. The commitment, involvement and responsibility within the team are high, which makes me happy and proud. Together we have ensured that our data center has become indispensable in Friesland. Achieving that together is the best there is.

Risky funding

Due to the fact that DCF has been thriving from the very beginning, it is hard to imagine that 11 years ago Else Maria still had to talk like mad to get the funding to establish the data center. 'It was on the eve of the crisis and the IT sector was seen as risky. Even though customers were jumping at the chance, both the banks and NOM were critical. Understandable, because the facilities in a data center require large investments.

Fortunately, I was able to live up to the speech I made to NOM about anticipated growth and spin-off. Even before the opening of our second branch, the loan was paid off. That gave me a good feeling, because as an entrepreneur I prefer to stand on my own two feet. Although I was glad that NOM was there as a partner when it proved necessary.'

Safe and energy efficient

Opening a second branch was DCF's biggest move in the past decade. 'That has strengthened our position enormously, because continuity can be guaranteed much better if customers can distribute their hardware over two locations. We will do the same later with the platform on which we will offer infrastructure as a service,' says Else Maria. Investments in cooling have also contributed to continuity. 'With two different cooling systems, one can fail completely without consequences for our customers.' Saving energy does remain a challenge. 'Our center is already a lot more energy efficient due to bulk work than if customers were to manage the equipment themselves, but there is always room for improvement. That's why we continue to make conscious choices and look for innovative possibilities for heat exchange, for example.'