Blockchain and data center: a happy marriage?

Blockchain is the new buzz. It’s designed to make transactions transparent and elimate the requirement of trust among individuals for simple transactions. Blockchain has a huge potential to create massive social change. And we ask ourselves, what role can we as a datacenter play in blockchain? Is it a happy marriage?

To be honest, we don’t know. Blockchain requires more powerful processors to handle transactions, which as a consequence requires much more electricity and does not render blockchain technology energy efficient. What we do know is that as a data center we strive to be as energy efficient as possible. At LCL, we don’t plan to start becoming less energy efficient, especially not after all the effort we’ve put in to achieve just the opposite.
Where we do see ourselves play a major role is in the connectivity. Since blockchain saves a copy of the entire transaction history on the computer of every user, it means that data needs to be exchanged constantly between all these copies, making sure the information is kept up to date. And where does all traffic need to pass through? Right, a data center. Particularly (at LCL) via the meet-me-room. Telecom operators will play a major role in Blockchain, as connections will be key. Data centers will become more and more a node of internet and other traffic. And as bandwidth is multiplied by 1.5 ever year without blockchain anyway, there will be a massive need for extra bandwidth when blockchain would become generally accepted. In this respect, we, LCL, see a bright future for data centers; especially given that at LCL we house up to 38 carriers in our three data centers. On top of the fact that everyone’s evolving towards data center outsourcing anyway, as the security (and other) requirements make it very inefficient and expensive to store your servers in your own data center or server room.

So, are data centers and blockchain a happy marriage?

Yes, definitely for data exchange. However, not when it comes down to energy efficiency. At least not until they’ve made blockchain more energy efficient, something I’ve read they’re looking into. And something we look forward to, because we surely don’t want to abandon our ISO 14001 certification.

Laurens van Reijen
Managing Director, LCL Data Centers

PS: The MIT Technology Review of MAY/JUNE 2018 has a full issue covering Blockchain, a must read for everyone interested.

European internet

A ColdCorridor D 001 336
LCL Belgium

LCL: As we think about a European internet, let’s rethink internet architecture

It was Angela Merkel who first suggested creating a ‘European internet’. I strongly support this idea. Today, most internet providers are based in the US. The backbone providers, however, are all US companies. Under US law, they must hand over any information they store to the US government when requested to do so, even if the information is stored in Europe. This was made crystal clear by the verdict of the trial recently lost by Microsoft, which challenged the obligation to supply the US government on demand with information stored outside of the US. It would seem that the US really is acting like ‘Big Brother’, which is obviously unacceptable to us Europeans, particularly since US companies are opposed to it, too. But what can we do?

If all European data is kept within European networks and at European companies, there would be no obligation whatsoever to deliver any data to the NSA or US government services in general. European networks could be linked directly, rather than through the US internet backbones. We could create something similar to the Shengen zone for our data. This can be achieved by linking European internet exchanges. Each country has at least one internet exchange. The European Commission could promote direct encrypted links between these data traffic exchanges. The longer the data stays on a European network, the smaller the risk that it will be used against us by third parties.

These measures would certainly allow us to secure our data a lot more than we can at present. But that wouldn’t be the only advantage. Data would be delivered much faster if it didn’t have to go all the way to the US and back.

As we think about a European internet, let’s rethink the architecture of the internet in general. We could make the infrastructure more robust, and reach new agreements on protocols, all the while making sure that the internet remains open and neutral, of course. For instance, we could try to find ways to prevent viruses from spreading around the world in an instant, and try to limit spamming. But the biggest problem of all is DDoS attacks, and we should try our hardest to make a denial of service impossible. An innovative anti-DDoS infrastructure, ‘Nawas’, has been developed in the Netherlands, so relevant knowledge and initiatives already exist within Europe.

Let’s bring techies and academics together and create a think-tank to make our internet better, more secure and more efficient. I feel that Europe should take a leading role in this. It would, among other things, put Europe back on the map as a region full of vision and potential, and a force to be reckoned with!

Laurens van Reijen, CEO of LCL data centers