Gisle M. Eckhoff, CEO of Digiplex on innovation within edge computing

Gisle M. Eckhoff, CEO of Digiplex on innovation within edge computing

The Nordic data centre market is one of the most active and attractive areas for development in the world, estimated to have reached the $7.0 billion mark at the end of 2018. This has been driven in large part by development and build-out by hyperscalers such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

In Q1 2019, DigiPlex launched its Nordic Connect Platform, linking its main data centres in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, creating a unique cross-border eco-system and making DigiPlex the Nordics’ largest data centre owner and operator.

CEO of DigiPlex, Gisle M Eckhoff, will be speaking on the Enterprise Cloud and Internet Infrastructure - Who is leading the next phase of hyper growth? At November’s TMT Finance World 2019. We caught up with him in advance of the event to get his views on the changing investment strategies and business models of edge computing.


TMT: Who is best placed to take advantage of the potential offered by edge computing? Who should fund it?

Eckhoff: Several factors are driving the case for edge computing, and all are driving the case for data centre solutions. First, cost. Today’s consumer applications, especially smartphone apps, video streaming and gaming require massive uninterrupted volumes of data. The cost of moving these huge amounts of data between a user device and a remote data centre on the other side of the world are significant. Edge data centres reduce these costs.

Second, latency, once thought to be a non-issue is suddenly critical. Applications such as virtual reality and autonomous vehicles require near-instant response times, and while increasingly computing and procession will be done on device, there will be an ongoing requirement to exchange data and resource with services based in data centres. These need to be close to the applications and the populations using them.

Finally, regulatory and governance requirements are leading many to ask where precisely their data is physically stored. In Europe, GDPR compliance as well as a host of national and regional regimes governing the storage and processing of personal, tax and medical data require local hosting which often means edge-based resources.


TMT: Where can edge be most effective and how is it being deployed?

Eckhoff: It makes little sense for a business to invest in its own 'edge' data centres everywhere it needs them. Owning and operating data centres is a full-time commitment best left to specialists. Our focus at DigiPlex allows us to invest in innovations like our Nordic Connect Platform designed specifically to help our customers expand across borders with a unique mix of possible Edge deployments in one or several of the region’s capitals; Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen. This enables customers to meet demands of not just latency but regulations such as GDPR.


TMT: How has the increased segmentation of the marketplace changed cloud computing investment strategies and business models?

Eckhoff: Our market has evolved rapidly over the last few years. We are in a ‘cloud-first’ phase where everything that can go to the cloud does go to the cloud. However, even in a cloud-first environment, some key applications and data will always need to be hosted locally for technical, cost, security or regulatory consideration. We are seeing these drive increased requirement for data centre capacity.

We are also seeing a multi-cloud focus, with enterprises using two, three or even more cloud suppliers to run aspects of their IT. Managing this hybrid model, staying agile and ensuring good governance means that at very least, organisation must audit where their data actually resides.  

These trends are driving customers to look for more than just a data centre provider, but a partner who can help unlock opportunities and enable new strategies, including multi-cloud and hybrid cloud. DigiPlex customers can enjoy best of breed solutions and rapid deployment for maximum impact, flexible provisioning, and overall simplified Cloud management including hassle-free access to the widest possible range of cloud providers including Microsoft, AWS, and Google.


TMT: How are tech and datacentre companies working in partnership with infrastructure providers?

Eckhoff: Data centres are at the heart of the digital revolution, but to be successful we need to be more than a supplier. Ultimately, we are part of an extended value chain. End customers are not looking for a data centre – they want a solution to their evolving data and processing needs. We are focused on providing the best infrastructure for success today and to be part of our customers’ journey towards digitisation for success in the future. Partnership is crucial to this. Partnership with our customers to understand their needs, but also partnership with a wide ecosystem of suppliers that can help deliver them.   

DigiPlex has nearly two decades of experience in bringing together the technology, the engineering and deployment capability and a deep understanding of the specific requirements of clients and the service providers.

Our colocation facilities are home to many of the region’s most renowned enterprises and therefore represent unique digital ecosystem. Working together with the likes of AWS (as the first AWS direct Connect in Norway), and with Microsoft (with the Azure ExpressRoute at our Ulven data centre), allows us to create not only the facilities, but the connections that provide the best environment for cloud service providers and their customers.


TMT: How big of an issue is cyber-security and what implications does it have on investment and acquisition decisions?

Eckhoff: Cyber threats have rapidly become one of the biggest issues, not just for IT departments, but for boards. But often digital defences have hogged the limelight. No amount of firewalls, AV or network monitoring is going to help if someone can simply walk up to a server and insert a USB to either download data or upload a virus.

According to a recent IDC report "As digital becomes pivotal to most processes, and as digital protection improves, attempts to attack data by physical intervention or by destroying infrastructure are expected to rise."

It is clear that offices and data centres have different needs for security, design and access. But many businesses still choose to house servers at their offices; in cupboards, basements or adjoining rooms, providing little or no additional physical security.

For a colocation provider the physical security of facilities is paramount.  As dedicated, secure and physically separate facility, our data centres are inherently more secure than on-premise operations.  Our locations are carefully selected to ensure that the buildings storing data are adequately protected from fire, flooding, trespassing, theft, and even bombs. Infrastructure like power, network connections and cooling need to be available from several alternate sources. Plus, our datacentres have several layers of physical security — fences, gates, guards, cameras, access control routines, etc and strong control, including biometric access controls, none of which would be practical or cost effective in an office situation.

As cyber protection remains a key concern, we expect more businesses to agree that moving data to a dedicated secure facility should be part of their defence strategy.


TMT: What are you looking forward to most at TMT Finance World 2019 and what one piece of advice/information do you hope to leave with the audience?

Eckhoff: Issues around where and how data are stored and processed are no longer the concern of just the IT department. I am looking forward to speaking with finance professionals about driving the digitisation and future growth of their businesses using the reliable, robust, secure yet agile foundations of a comprehensive data centre strategy.


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