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  • Portman Partners

The New Data Centre Boardroom

Author: Peter Hannaford, Senior Partner at Portman Partners

In association with DCA & Intelligent Data Centre's

Peter Hannaford, Senior Partner at Portman Partners, describes the data centre leaders of tomorrow and how they must be the embodiment of the solutions to today’s challenges

There is no doubt and possibly an excess of conversation about how the events of 2020 impacted people and industries across the board. Still, one industry that until recently attracted little attention outside its inner circle of operators and investors is having its moment in the spotlight, is ours. The business of the data centre and the challenges it faces are a microcosm of broader social and corporate concerns and the movements around them, and all require aggressive, directed initiatives from executives at senior levels to address them. There are three challenges that can be viewed as standalone items, but I would argue they are entirely intertwined, and successfully managing any one benefits the others. So, in no particular order, they are:

  • Sustainability

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion

  • Innovative leaders


With the rise of the remote workforce and lockdowns around the globe, data usage has increased – significantly. A recent TeleGeography report found that the COVID-19 pandemic drove international Internet capacity from 450 Tbps to 600 Tbps, a 35% increase year over year from 2019 to 2020, and identified four primary growth areas. The report stated that:

  • The most significant growth in regional capacity between 2019 and 2020 came from Europe

  • Peak international Internet traffic increased at a compound annual rate of 30% between 2016 and 2020

  • Pre-COVID, peak traffic growth was forecast to be 28%, but the pandemic drove it to 47%

  • Average global international Internet traffic rose from about 120 Tbps in 2019 to 170 Tbps in 2020

The increase in data usage and the corresponding increase in the data centre’s carbon footprint have put a bullseye on the industry, with many labelling it a top climate culprit, making it one of the most significant targets. How much climate responsibility lies at the feet of the data centre itself is debatable, but none would (or should) argue the industry has none.

Diversity, Equity & Innclusion

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