An online fantasy video games company with hundreds of thousands of users was one of the key driving forces behind a relatively new data centre in Iceland, it has emerged.
Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP, whose multiplayer online roleplaying game Eve Online is played by a dedicated fan base of half a million gamers, said he was behind the development of the Verne Global data centre, which sits on a former NATO base in south west Iceland.
Pétursson said he was forced to run Eve Online and the rest of his business off computer servers in London data centres up until Verne Global opened its facility on a 44-acre site in Keflavik in 2012.
“I thought it was silly that Iceland didn't have a data centre industry,” Pétursson told Techworld at the company's office in Reykjavík. “We have green electricity [due to the abundance of geothermal power] and extremely good weather for data centres - even if not so much for people.
“I thought it was a no-brainer to start a data centre company here so I contacted Isaac Kato [EVP and CFO of Verne Global] and my investors and said: ‘You guys should go and build a data centre company in Iceland - it’s a great idea.’ So I technically had the idea to create Verne.”
Verne Global, a UK-registered company, raised £65 million ($98 million) in January, putting it in the same league as Huddle, TransferWise and Shazam, who are each thought to be worth $1 billion.
Since Verne Global opened its facility, it has attracted a number of customers, including CCP, BMW, RVX, part of the Oscar-winning visual effects team on the film Gravity, and many other large organisations that do not wish to be revealed. BMW specifically uses the data centre to support a group of high performance computing clusters that are being used to run simulations for designing new cars.
It's likely that Verne Global will gain even more customers after Iceland’s internet connectivity was boosted when BT linked the country up to its global network and additional subsea cables were brought online but London remains one of the best connected cities in the world, according to Pétursson.
“Some of the stuff we do requires the connectivity the Docklands area offers but some of the stuff we do doesn’t so it’s much more cost efficient to have it there in Verne,” he said, adding that Iceland is catching up with the major internet exchanges of the world.
“In London you have such a hub of all the tier one connections in the world,” he said. “When you tap into that you’ll save latency, which is important for the type of experience we provide at the consumer level.”