Created in 2009, LU-CIX is Luxembourg’s commercial internet exchange hub, forming part of the government strategy to make the Grand Duchy a major centre for the digital economy. With 62 active members from the country’s ICT ecosystem, LU-CIX supports the promotion of internet technology in Luxembourg. The association will be holding its Data Center Networking Event on 26 September 2016–showcasing the sector and unveiling major plans for the future. President Marco Houwen and CEO Claude Demuth tell us what it’s all about.
What is the aim of the Data Center Networking Event that you are holding on 26 September?
Claude Demuth: The Data Center Networking Event focuses on three main areas: bringing the sector together, showcasing the sector and unveiling future sector plans. LU-CIX brings the sector together and–at a single location on 26 September–the entire data centre ecosystem in Luxembourg (service providers, equipment suppliers, integrators). We will be showcasing the sector and its development path in Luxembourg. We will also welcome Steve Wallage, chief executive of BroadGroup Consulting, who will be providing a progress report for the sector in Europe. At around 5:45 p.m. when all the presentations are over, we will be unveiling our new plans for promoting the sector in the years to come – an exclusive event. This will be followed by the networking part of the event, where participants will have the chance to talk, exchange ideas and get to know each other.
Marco Houwen: The aim of LU-CIX and the event on 26 September is to rally the ICT sector around the promotion of Luxembourg on the international stage and make full use of the internet exchange hub: the companies providing the infrastructure or providing data centre services, internet access providers, telecommunications companies and all the players gravitating around the ecosystem, including equipment manufacturers and energy providers. Around 200 people will be attending the event, and not all of them are currently members of our network or association. Our aim is therefore also to increase our membership base.
How do you see Luxembourg as special in terms of connectivity and data centres?
Marco Houwen: You have to remember where we come from: we started from nowhere. Ten years ago, Luxembourg was extremely badly connected but, thanks to a bold political decision, we have managed to change the situation. Today, Luxembourg is the country with the highest number of Tiers IV data centres (editor’s note: the highest level of security and redundancy) in the world: 25% of all certified Tiers IV data centres in Europe are located in the Grand Duchy. Luxembourg is now the major hub for internet traffic: if you are surfing in Warsaw on a site hosted in London, there is a very good chance that the data is travelling via the Grand Duchy. The country is located in the centre of Europe – making it an alternative data transit route, especially between major cities. In the past, Frankfurt and London were linked via Amsterdam or Paris. Today, we have managed to create a real alternative.
Claude Demuth: The fact that we have Tiers IV data centres isn’t just down to geography–it is much more about ambition. Luxembourg is used to producing quality. And it was in response to the needs of the banks, which had to install stable and reliable back-up sites at a certain point, that we started to introduce quality infrastructures throughout the country.
Why is Luxembourg attractive to IT companies today?
Marco Houwen: Because of the quality of the infrastructures, as we’ve just been saying, and the flexibility too–but that’s not all. Here in Luxembourg, we have a stable political environment, a large number of data centres and some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe.
Claude Demuth: Unlike other countries, there is no single thing enabling us to position ourselves as we do. In Luxembourg, the IT ecosystem as a whole is what gives us the advantage.
What is the role of LU-CIX in this ecosystem?
Marco Houwen: the primary role of LU-CIX is to make full use of the commercial exchange hub in Luxembourg–the place where internet users access websites. The secondary objective is to promote the technology expertise available in Luxembourg to an international audience. There is a massive need for companies setting up in Luxembourg to understand what the country can offer in terms of technology. We work closely with the government to provide a response to these companies with regard to the technology offering.
Claude Demuth: We are not the biggest country or city in Europe–it is vital that we collaborate and work as a team in order to promote technology in Luxembourg and have our chance alongside major cities like Frankfurt, Amsterdam and London.
What other events will you be holding in the future?
Marco Houwen: LU-CIX has a long history of organising events. We have held a major event every year since we started in 2009. In November, we will be holding the Luxembourg Internet Days event for the third year in a row.
Claude Demuth: with 800 visitors, 300 participating countries and a keynote speech from the Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg Internet Days is the second-largest ICT event in the country. We are now also planning to export the Data Center Networking Event model abroad to promote the Grand Duchy. We will be starting next year–or at least by 2018–with nearby countries Germany, England, France and the Netherlands.
How would you describe the Luxembourg IT community?
Marco Houwen: Today, our sector is capable of responding to the needs of international clients at operator, integrator, service and consultancy levels. There is a true ecosystem. Having said that, the sector also needs to offer even greater flexibility, as we are facing a world and an industry undergoing extremely rapid change. The members of our ecosystem need to be aware of this and equip themselves with the tools to progress and outperform themselves–this is a vital condition for staying competitive in the future.