A year ago, Microsoft announced an investment of one billion euros in Belgium to build data centers. They will be installed on three sites around Brussels.
In November 2021, Microsoft announced a massive investment in our territory. The company has planned an envelope of around one billion euros for the installation of three data centers in Belgium. A year later, the group decided to go into a little more detail about its ambition. Starting with the place chosen for its establishment. Or rather, its locations. Because if its competitor Google has decided to build its first five data centers on the same site in Saint-Ghislain, at Microsoft the strategy is different. “We decided to build on three different sites around Brussels with a maximum distance of 50 km between each site”, explains Ron Pooters, business strategy manager at Microsoft.
“As for the exact address, we prefer to remain discreet for security reasons,” he explains. During the first bombings in Ukraine, data centers were among the first targets of attacks. “This kind of risk is obviously rather limited in Belgium, but it shows how data centers are critical sites”, we recall at Google. Security is precisely what drives the American giant to prefer this type of installation on several sites.
The three “small” datacenters ensure maximum protection for the backed up data. “They will be connected by their own fiber optic network. In the event of a breakdown or major technical problem at one of the sites, the data will be transferred almost immediately to one of the other two data centers“, details the manager. In order to avoid the slightest risk, the environment where the centers will be installed is studied closely. Flood-prone areas or locations near forests, for example, are systematically excluded, “particularly because the risks of fires are bigger there”.
“Today, our main competitor, more than Google or any other player, is internal data backup, directly within companies.”
With this security argument, Microsoft hopes to convince Belgian companies. “Today, our main competitor, more than Google or another player, is internal data backup, directly within companies. There are still a lot of people to convince”, explains Ron Pooters. To persuade them, apart from the security argument, he hopes that the installations on Belgian soil will serve as a trigger. “Today, offering a local offer is also more reassuring. It also brings other advantages such as reducing latency, which is of interest to large industries”, explains the manager.
Not for a year
“Building a data center is as complicated as building a hospital.”
Started a year ago, the work is not yet close to being finalized. “It will take at least another year of work. But we have not yet given an exact date of commissioning. Building a data center is as complicated as building a hospital and with our system on several locations, we have to wait until the three datacenters are finished to start the activity”, explains Ron Pooters. As for the number of direct jobs created, the benefits will be quite relative and will be limited to only a few dozen posts.
Currently, Belgian companies with a Microsoft account have their data backed up in centers elsewhere in Western Europe, mainly within the Dutch installations. Once the Belgian project is finalized, they can, if they wish, request that their accounts be transferred to the Belgian datacenters
- A year ago, Microsoft announced an investment of one billion euros in Belgium.
- It will be used to finance the construction of three datacenters.
- These will be installed around Brussels.
- For security reasons, they will be built on three different sites.