“From zero to leading research institute in the Nordics in less than two years” – Tor Björn Minde, CEO at RICE SICS North.
From zero to leading research institute in the Nordics in less than two years. That is reality for RISE SICS North a research institute with a datacenter named ICE that offers experimentation in cloud applications and data analysis and in sustainable and efficient datacenter solutions, in Luleå, in the north of Sweden.
“It has been a fantastic journey”, says Tor Björn Minde, CEO at RISE SICS North. “During this time we have grown and have now 13 employees, a turnover of around 20 million SEK annually and has also established our own research facility, ICE – in close proximity to Luleå University of Technology.The interest for our competence is growing, especially when it comes to suppliers of data center equipment and the energy industry. Facebook’s big investment in a datacenter in Luleå was the starting point and now our region gets more and more attention from companies that need to handle high performance data in a secure environment.”
Unique environment for testing
The ICE’s test facility offers access to a unique environment for testing, demos and experiments, including big data and machine learning, IT and cloud testing and experiments, testing of hardware like buildings and other equipment and energy optimization for securing sustainable and efficient datacenters.
The actual research and experimentation is done in ICE’s own research datacenter with three main modules. The first module, a stable environment optimized for testing of IT/cloud-related applications and big data handling, has been running since February 2016. In this module measurement data from equipment and sensors is collected for modeling, simulation and optimization.
…with flexible setup
The second module is more flexible in its physical setup and is therefore optimal for testing of facility/utility innovations. Also in the facility is an operations center, a climate room and a IT rack wind tunnel.
Module three with extensions, soon to be taken into use, consists of the following parts; OCP lab, solar panels, energy storage, thermal storage tank and heat pump for heat re-use.
This module is specifically designed for testing of Open Compute hardware and the datacenter as part of the utility/energy system.
“I would like to emphasize that our cooperation with Luleå University of Technology has been an absolutely vital part of our fast success”, says Tor Björn.
The outcome of ICE’s work is of course of regional and national interest while datacenters are a very interesting and growing industry in Sweden that create lots of job opportunities, but SICS ICE is also offering their services to the rest of the world. They are also getting much attention from abroad.
“As of now we have around 60+ national and international clients and partners”, says Tor Björn Minde.
Competence an issue?
You might think that competence is scarce within this relatively new field and that it might be difficult to recruit employees to a research center in the far north. Nothing could be more wrong.
“Actually we have a long list of persons from all over who are interested to come and work for us. We have also recruited our head of research Jon Summers, an authority within European datacenter research, from the University of Leeds. He took his lab equipment and everything else with him and moved here.”
Preparing for the next step
Tor Björn Minde and his colleagues are looking forward to the future, anticipating a next big step including an entirely new research facility to be built on the university campus. He estimates that this might be realized within the next three years.
“Now we need to settle in our present organization and take it from there”, says Tor Björn.