Thought Leadership and Insight from Bird & Bird

Marco Nicolai

For this edition, Datacloud spoke to Marco Nicolai a Lawyer specialising in engineering and construction law for real estate, infrastructure and data centres development from Bird & Bird.

Datacloud: What do you see for the future of the industry?
In one word, technology. The world is becoming more IT dependent and with the growing number of sensors and connected devices, data and data centres lie at the heart of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. Of course this technological revolution is adding immense complexities, risks and legal implications but ultimately we see the future of the industry as being one where the full integration of the physical, digital and technological worlds in purpose-built storage centres is achieved to the benefit of all stakeholders in the data centre industry and the wider society.

Datacloud: What is the biggest opportunity in the industry today?
The biggest opportunity lies in world of Energy, such as by way of demand side response, use of renewables and battery storage techniques.  Energy consumers continue to take greater control of their energy needs including where they buy energy, the type of energy they buy and how they manage their energy consumption. As a big energy consumer, the data centre industry has great opportunities from the technological innovations particularly in the energy sector which will see data centres having an unquestionable advantage to any non-purpose built data storage solutions. For example, Google was able to reduce its total data centre power consumption by 15 percent, saving the company hundreds of millions of dollars, by acquiring the AI startup, DeepMind, to slash costs and improve efficiencies. We are seeing unprecedented plans to up-grade data centres mainly led by energy requirements and the potential to achieve cost reductions and efficiencies.

Datacloud: What's one of your goals for the next year and how do you expect to achieve it?
We see the convergence of "traditional" industries such as real estate, finance and construction, with more "innovative" industries such as energy, telecommunications and IT.  It is therefore vital for lawyers to understand the "mood" of these varying industries – what are their constraints, where is their flexibility – to develop creative solutions that bring these industries together commercially. Our goal is to challenge the traditional lines separating departments and sectors and develop new breed of lawyers highly specialised in the data centre industry in order to continue to act as trusted advisors to our data centre clients. With one of the biggest data centre focused group, Bird & Bird intends to achieve this by continuing to participate in industry events such as Datacloud Europe to act as thought leaders and provide on-going training of its lawyers. The invaluable lessons learned from working on some of the most complex and significant data centre projects internationally for over 15 years, provides us and our clients with the necessary tools to achieve this ambitious goal and continue to add value in a fast changing world.

Datacloud: What do you think matters most in the development of the industry and its effect on business and society?
People. Many commentators are predicting world where technology such as Artificial Intelligence will inevitably replace the majority of complex human activity. However, people who are able to adapt and maximise this disruption will always be at the heart of the innovations and data centres. Andrew Fray of Interxion, made the point in the latest edition of the DCD Journal that data centres "rely on trusted human relationships to map out strategies that can flex and adapt with our rapidly changing world". Data centres by their very nature combine the physical, digital and technological worlds. More than ever data centres now provide an important example to society on how to achieve the successful fusion of these worlds and the immense benefits of taking on this challenge.

Bird & Bird will be at the Datacloud Europe 2017 congress in Monaco June 6-8th. Meet them there