Digital Realty Trust, Inc. has announced the latest findings of its annual European market survey.

The independent survey, undertaken on behalf of Digital Realty by research firm Campos, interviewed over 200 senior decision-makers at European businesses with annual revenues of at least 500 million pounds Sterling across six countries regarding their organization's plans to add to their data center infrastructure. Those interviewed were Executives or Senior Management in IT, Finance or Real Estate with responsibility for either the procurement or operations of their company's data centers.

The survey revealed an increase in the number of organizations planning to add new data center space. Eighty-five percent of respondents intend to expand their resources in the next year, compared to 82 percent at the end of 2010. In addition, the responses indicate a growing need for new facilities, with respondents now requiring an extra 15,600 square feet of space on average compared to 14,500 sq ft in 2011. Just over half of organizations surveyed (51 percent) intend to spread this across at least two new sites.

Despite highlighting the increased demand for space, the results also suggest growing uncertainty in the face of the economic difficulties impacting the euro zone and other markets. Of those companies planning to expand their data center assets over the coming year, 23 percent assert this will 'definitely' take place—down from the 25 percent who were certain they would expand in 2011. The remaining 62 percent say they will 'probably' add new facilities in 2012.

Other key findings from the research include:


• Demand for new data centers is highest among UK and Spanish businesses (35 percent and 32 percent), with the French and Dutch companies displaying the lowest interest in expansion (14 percent and 12 percent)

• For over two-thirds (69 percent) of organizations, the priority is to add facilities within their local market

• Established business centers remain the most popular location for situating a new data center, with London (31 percent), Paris (26 percent), and Frankfurt (18 percent) the top choices

• Despite concerns that rising local taxes will disincentivize investment in new data centers, operational considerations remain a priority when determining the suitability of a location: site availability, security, connectivity, and accessibility to local staff were all listed as priorities over regional charges


Using a partner

When asked about their approach to developing new data center facilities, over half (59 percent) of businesses stated that they intend to seek assistance from a partner. The latest results show a significant rise in interest for leasing space from a dedicated provider, with 32 percent preferring this option - nearly double the response rate for 2010 (18 percent). Self-build projects—with or without a partner—are also gaining in popularity, with 42 percent now planning to develop their own facilities compared to 30 percent a year ago.

When assessing the suitability of a potential partner, concerns about turbulence in the markets are driving European businesses to seek stability. When asked about their requirements for a partner, respondents listed the ability to maintain fixed costs and financial resilience as the most important considerations, with the extensiveness of the partner's offering also a valued factor.


Sustainability improvements

The survey also revealed encouraging signs that organizations are making greater efforts to improve the efficiency of their existing data centers, with a greater proportion aware of the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of their facilities. Only 12 percent of respondents admitted not having access to this information, against 18 percent in last year's survey. The results also show an increase in companies actively monitoring their power consumption: almost three-quarters (73 percent) now do so, compared to 68 percent in 2011.

In a related response, the average PUE rating reported has fallen from an average of 2.66 to 2.61. Average power density has also declined, from 5.5kW per rack in 2011 to 5.3kW in the latest survey. However, there are indications this may increase in the coming year, with organizations predicting a need for more power-intensive racks in their new facilities, with an average forecasted requirement of 5.7kW.

Commenting on the findings, Adam Levine, vice president, sales, Europe, at Digital Realty said: "The latest research confirms what we see in the market: that demand for data center space in Europe has not abated. However the decision-making process for procuring additional data center space is lengthening as businesses are obviously wary of committing to such a substantial investment given the current challenges facing euro zone countries and their trading partners. We see this reflected in their priorities when it comes to choosing a partner to support a new data center project, with the ability to commit to a pre-determined budget and financial stability the top two considerations when making this decision.

"The results underpin the need for an informed, experienced approach to planning and developing a new data center in order to minimize the potential risks involved. With a track record of building and operating hundreds of data center facilities across the globe and a strong financial position, we feel Digital Realty remains best placed to support European businesses as they make their way through the current economic unrest."


Survey Methodology

Research commissioned by Digital Realty and carried out independently by Campos Inc between 24 October and 3 November 2011. 201 respondents participated from large companies with at least euro 500M/ 500M pounds Sterling annual revenues or 2,000+ employees (for Ireland and Netherlands, euro 250M/ 250M pounds Sterling annual revenues or 1,000+ employees) and headquartered in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain or Ireland. Participants are responsible for managing a data center, contract execution for or implementing a new data center or expanding existing data centers within their organization.