How a Norwegian data centre has established itself on a global scale

Tor Kristian Gyland, CEO of Green Mountain and winner of “Entrepreneur of The Year 2020 for Data Centre & Colocation Industry” tells the story of how, from an abandoned NATO storage facility deep inside a Norwegian mountain, he was able to catch the interest of the major enterprise and cloud providers to establish data centres in Norway.

Feature image

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how dependent modern society is on effective digital solutions and data centres are the backbone of this digital infrastructure. The global data centre industry is blooming, but at the same time the concern for industry’s CO2 footprint has risen to the top of the agenda. The cloud providers of the world do not only require more data capacity, they demand green data capacity. This is where Green Mountain and Norway comes into the picture.


Tor Kristian Gyland, CEO of Green Mountain
Tor Kristian Gyland, CEO of Green Mountain


How has Green Mountain become so successful?
Ten years ago, we were a tiny organisation, in a non-existent industry in Norway, with a hole in the mountain where we wanted to build a data centre. Nevertheless, we managed to build a state-of-the-art facility and communicate our value proposition internationally. We have been one of the drivers behind the growth of the DC industry in Norway and we still give advice to newcomers in the industry. I also believe that the important technical groundwork we did in the early days, our focus on quality and standards, has paid off as we have experienced a massive growth.


What are the benefits of choosing Green Mountain as your data centre supplier?
Norway’s surplus of renewable energy at Europe’s lowest prices, the authorities’ beneficial framework conditions, and the realisation of several new fibre cable projects, form a strong value proposition. Sustainability is a key decision criterion for our clients and together with our focus on quality, we have built a strong reputation of reliability.


What is your company’s greatest asset?
Undoubtedly, the people. At Green Mountain, we have always emphasised getting the right people to do the right job. Their qualifications are important, but even more crucial is their ability to cooperate and develop together with the rest of the team. In this business, there are always new things to learn, innovate, and discover and we are dependent on the contribution and ideas from each and every member of our team. Sometimes we choose to improve incrementally in specific areas, other times we take greater innovative leaps. I believe we have built systems and a methodology to support this development, but we must remember that in the end it is always people who makes things happen.


How is Green Mountain tackling the challenges that face the industry?
The top three main concerns in the industry globally are:

• The concern for the environmental footprint of the industry.
• Power availability
• Skills shortage

However, in Norway we are blessed with abundant renewable hydropower and a robust grid, so we can basically cross the two first items off the list. Yes, there are still ways to improve energy efficiency and waste-heat re-use, but compared to the rest of the world, Norwegian data centres are the world’s greenest.

When it comes to skill shortage, we have yet another benefit. The Norwegian workforce is very tech-driven because of our extensive oil and gas industry. Now, as this industry is declining, we see a workforce of highly competent technical personnel and engineers shift to more sustainable industries – like data centres.


What’s next for Green Mountain?
Soon, we will open our third data centre facility outside the capital of Norway, and we are still growing at our original two sites. Furthermore, we have forecasted a growth of up to 200 MW within the next five years, so we are continuously exploring new sites for development. With clients like Volkswagen Group, MasterCard and international cloud providers, we have earned credibility in the business.

And with more and more clients focusing on sustainability, establishing in Norway makes sense from both an environmental and business point of view.