Business Technology

Thursday 19 July 2018

App and export divisions are Google Ireland's stars, says new chief Harris

Ronan Harris, Head of Google in Ireland
Ronan Harris, Head of Google in Ireland
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

Google Ireland's app hub and export support businesses have emerged as "star" divisions, the company's new country head Ronan Harris has said.

The Irish office is selling online export support services to companies across Europe, he said, using Google data to help them identify and commercialise export opportunities.

This business has emerged as a star performer for Google Ireland, Harris said.

"Using data science and our data insights, we are helping everyone from Irish start-ups to shoe retailers in Paris to identify exporting opportunities and capitalise on them. It is a very rapidly growing activity. We are working with businesses all across Europe."

Harris also identified Google Ireland's app hub as one of its biggest successes.

Its Barrow Street offices are home to the company's EMEA App Hub, which works with app developers to help fast-track their businesses.

It has worked as a launch pad for several US app developers.

"We've had a number of big successes with the app hub, like Kama Games," said Harris. The US app company, which is partnered with Manchester United, announced it was setting up a European headquarters in Ireland earlier this year with the intention of creating 100 jobs over three years.

A fifth of the company's 2,500 Irish full-time employees are engineers, a company spokesperson added.

Harris' comments follow the announcement of plans for a €150m data centre, Google's second in Ireland.

Data centres store information on behalf of companies and individuals, who rent storage space from the owner.

They require excellent connectivity as well as a large physical footprint and a significant energy supply.

Globally, Google is spending billions on data centre construction as it races to compete with rivals like Amazon Web Services, the world's biggest cloud services provider. European locations are popular as Europe is perceived to have stricter data protection laws than elsewhere in the world.

Ireland is a particularly popular location because of its cool climate. Its lower temperatures mean companies do not need as much mechanical refrigeration equipment to keep the machines from overheating.

Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and BT all have large data centre operations in Ireland alongside Google.

Documents seen by the Sunday Independent reveal that companies have applied to more than treble Ireland's existing data centre capacity within three years.

Google's new two-storey Irish facility will be located beside its existing data centre at Profile Park near Grangecastle in west Dublin, which was opened three years ago.

The first phase of construction should be completed later this year and when fully open, it will rank among the most energy efficient data centres in the world.

The search engine giant has also bought a 31-acre site next door, so that it can expand its facilities further in the future.

However, Harris said there were no plans to build another for now.

"This is the only one we have planned," he said. "But we tend not to make long-term plans on this."

"We launched our first in 2012 and we have been monitoring the results closely and perfecting the model.

"We have learned a lot. This time around, we invested twice as much. It is significantly bigger, about 30,000 square meters."

Ireland is "perfect" for data centres he said. "There are no obstacles.

"There is great connectivity, great space and all the infrastructure we need.

"We have always been able to find the right sites. And obviously, Ireland's location is great for reaching European customers."

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