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Editor’s Question: How can vendors ensure they maintain a strong presence within the industry?

Editor’s Question: How can vendors ensure they maintain a strong presence within the industry?

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Colt Data Centre Services (DCS) has announced the launch of its Inzai 3 hyperscale data centre – its largest facility in Japan. The 27MW facility has already achieved over 90% pre-letting and comes at a time of increased demand in the Japanese market. As we witness a rise in the number of data centre facilities globally, how can vendors ensure they compete with others in the market to maintain a strong presence within the industry?

Russell Poole, Managing Director UK, Equinix: The past year has posed a unique set of challenges for companies around the world. Forced to adapt to the ‘new normal’, enterprises of all shapes and sizes have been rearchitecting their IT infrastructures to embrace a global shift to remote working, a continued move to cloud and a growth in the number of data-hungry applications and services.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, data centre companies – particularly those operating in the colocation space – have experienced incredible surges in interconnection bandwidth – the private exchange of data between businesses, away from the public Internet. Factors that have impacted this include a growth in the number of digitally savvy employees and a rise in the use of unified communications tools such as WebEx, Zoom and Cisco, which have reported a more than 100% increase in application traffic.

The Global Interconnection Index Vol.4, Equinix’s annual market study that tracks the growth of the digital economy, forecasts that overall interconnection bandwidth will achieve a 45% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to 2023 within the EMEA region. In London, interconnection bandwidth is expected to grow reach to 1,337 Tbps by 2023. This growth is at least three times higher than Paris and more than twice that of Amsterdam.

To remain relevant, it is important that data centre companies continue to innovate and provide solutions that enable the real time transfer of data across geographical locations. At Equinix, we use tried and tested analysis and planning processes to allow us to successfully conduct rigorous M&A activity and expansion buildouts. That way, we are always ready to offer the best service to our customers in the locations they require.

Last year, we expanded our reach in Canada with the acquisition of 13 data centres; entered the Indian market for the first time, with the acquisition of two data centres from GPX India; and announced the construction of a new data centre in Milan, among others.

It has also become increasingly important for data centre operators to be more considerate of their carbon footprint in recent years, due to increased scrutiny from customers and governments since the Paris Agreement was signed.

In every data centre, we implement energy efficient components and utilise construction materials that complement our long-term sustainability goal of 100% clean and renewable energy for our global platform. Equinix’s LD7 data centre is one of the most technologically advanced colocation facilities in the world and a major addition to the thriving London Slough campus. Energy efficiency is achieved at this site with the aid of an innovative chilled water system in combination with an Adiabatic heat rejection system. This contributes to LD7 having lower energy consumption and a smaller carbon footprint than other facilities of its kind.

By thinking holistically and considering the long-term, we believe that our sustainability progress and attention to ESG issues will increase the benefits that Equinix can bring to our rapidly evolving world.

Justin Thomas, Chief Technology Officer, Vantage Data Centers: According to a recent study from IDC, ‘the world will create more than three times the data over the next five years than it did in the previous five’. With such a large increase in data creation and consumption at play, Vantage Data Centers understands that the need for digital infrastructure is essential to meet the world’s demand.

At Vantage, the customer always comes first. We work tirelessly to evolve our data centre design in innovative ways that can scale as quickly as the market and our customers demand. In doing so, we now have a total of 14 strategically located data centre campuses, either operational or under development, on two continents. As we continue to expand globally, we regularly listen to and partner with our customers to ensure our future locations are where they need them to be to effectively carry out their business needs and objectives.

Our processes and procedures are not simply written into an SLA, but they are practiced with rigor by Vantage personnel at every level of responsibility. Rather than relying solely on outside contractors, we train and certify our critical facility engineers to perform preventive maintenance on a required rigid schedule. Investing in the team’s collective skills benefits our customers with high employee retention and customer satisfaction. Our goal is to provide the same level of experience to our customers whether they are doing business with us in Virginia or Germany. We offer them the same level of expertise, transparency, communication, standard practices and tools to ensure they receive a consistent experience that exceeds their expectations.

Vantage prioritises efficiency and environmental responsibility, all while delivering the reliability that is our hallmark. We see this as a natural outgrowth of a partnership that can advance technology while remaining an exemplar of good corporate citizenship. Our baseline approach includes using renewable energy whenever possible, limiting carbon footprints and maintaining energy efficient operations with industry leading PUEs.

We do this in a variety of ways. We work directly with regional utilities regarding their use of renewable energy sources within the mix of uninterrupted power they provide our campuses. In addition, we self-perform our mechanical controls to optimise PUE based on operating conditions and exterior weather data.

Vantage is also committed to an air-cooled model. While many conventional data centres consume thousands of gallons of water a day, our air-cooled chillers feature a closed-loop system that doesn’t require an ongoing water source.

We relentlessly pursue opportunities to make our data centres as environmentally friendly as possible. From LED lights to EV charging station and recycling, there is no measure that is too small.

Dan Scarbrough, MD, RockScar Ltd and DCA Advisory Board Member: Who would have imagined that the world would spend 2020 in varying different stages of lockdown; that Digital Transformation would be accelerated and brought forward by perhaps as much as a decade; and the data centre industry would have its profile raised like never before?

As we close 2020 and move into 2021, the growth we have seen the digital infrastructure industry experience has never been greater. Despite this, the industry has never been more compact, with the vast majority of this capacity being driven by a small number of hyperscale organisations.

When an industry is moving so fast while global ‘COVID’ pandemic restrictions are in place, is it increasingly hard for vendors to compete with their rivals in the market to maintain a strong presence within the industry?

The days of face-to-face meetings, events and ‘wining and dining’ have been halted temporarily, so how do you gain a potential customer’s attention in the new world we live in? It’s tough and today’s rigmarole of back-to-back zoom meetings doesn’t leave anyone much time to attend virtual events that form a large part of today’s online marketing.

It’s not all bad – the sheer amount of growth that the industry is undergoing means there is an ever-increasing pressure to ensure that the best possible supply chain – including multiple vendors – is in place to ensure that the significant amount of capacity is delivered on time. Leveraging relationships by engaging a highly skilled internal or outsourced business development function to open doors with key operators can’t be underestimated. Being able to quickly and concisely convey the value of your company products with the client’s specific requirement takes continual reinvention and the right thought process. Depending on your product, it can be a relatively long sales cycle, however, if you are speaking with the key operators and consultants, you’ll be able to maintain a strong presence in the industry.

Aligning your brand with some of the key industry issues of sustainability, diversity, efficiency, carbon reduction, renewable energy, Digital Transformation, along with key industry associations like the DCA, SDIA and iMason’s can make a real difference.

The industry has reached a stage where reputation and innovation are more important than ever before. Gone are the days of driving sales and revenue growth through lead generation alone.

Legislation is coming that will further regulate the industry. Naturally, operators will look to work with the best supply chains available that will serve to protect and grow their reputation in line with their own industry commitments. Whatever the future holds, one thing is for sure: when we look around from the midst of yet more COVID lockdowns, it’s worth reminding ourselves that working in the digital infrastructure industry – with all its wonderfully complex challenges – means we are still one of the lucky ones.

Florian Winkler, Chief Executive Officer at NTT Global Data Centres EMEA: Nobody can deny the considerable surge in demand for data centre services around the world, especially over the last year. The almost overnight shift to remote working as a result of the pandemic added to the demand significantly.

On top of this, the adoption of AI technologies, Edge Computing and the increase in the number of IoT devices has significantly increased the amount of compute a business needs to run on a day-to-day basis, driving further appetite for data centre services.

This has created a huge opportunity for both pure-play data centre companies and technology companies alike. NTT’s Global Data Centres Division benefits from being part of NTT Ltd., a global technology services company, as well as being the third-largest data centre provider in the world. Being part of NTT means we have a global presence and a broad range of capabilities. Our full stack of ICT services helps us better serve our clients and their infrastructure challenges – whether this is securing and keeping connected their remote workforce or helping them develop a better customer experience. Our ability to do this when needed gives us a significant advantage over companies that only sell data centre services and helps us stay competitive.

When it comes to data centres specifically, one of the most significant factors that has helped us compete has been the locations we have invested in. We have been able to constantly identify growth opportunities to expand our portfolio.

Earlier this year, we announced the on-going £500 million investment plan for new UK data centres. One site to benefit from this investment was the London 1 Data Centre, which we have just opened in Dagenham, East London. We knew it was important to further diversify our presence in the London area, which remains the largest out of the four FLAP co-location markets in Europe and is enjoying exceptional growth along with the rest of the UK. By having a strong and consistent portfolio of data centres across the world, we know that we’re well positioned to support all our customers no matter where they are.

Another factor that provides a competitive edge is the importance of sustainability. Now more than ever, businesses are looking for partners that use technology for good and are focusing their efforts on reducing their environmental impact. For example, in our new London 1 Data Centre just mentioned above, we have used the latest technology to remove the need for compressors and refrigerants. This results in greatly reduced material use in electrical infrastructure, and we will only use guaranteed renewable power throughout the site. We all have a duty to do what we can when it comes to sustainability, and the companies who prioritise this ethos will come out on top.

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