28 November 2012 – Asia Cloud Forum
Last week, data center services provider Global Switch announced to open “Hong Kong’s largest data center” in Q1 2015 with 35,000 sqm gross space, representing an investment of HK$2.8 billion (US$360 million).
The new Global Switch data center, a Tier III+ facility, will be located in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate in Hong Kong with a distinctive data center neighbourhood: IBM, Google , NTT Com , Digital Realty & Savvis , HSBC and Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing .
Wholesale data center business
According to David Guth, regional development director of Global Switch Asia Pacific, the company targets at global and local customers including government agencies, financial institutions, enterprises, global systems integrators, telecommunication carriers, managed service providers and other hosting businesses.
“Generally our customers procure blocks of power typically in excess of 500kW (“wholesale” requirements) although smaller requirements can be met if required,” said Guth as he described the company’s customer profile.
In 2007, Guth joined Global Switch and later took part in leading the delivery of a 4MW extension to Global Switch’s existing Singapore data center in 2010, the sourcing and acquisition of a site for the company’s proposed second data center in Singapore. He was also involved in the development of Sydney East, a new data center adjacent to the existing facility. In the APAC region, Guth is responsible for managing the company’s development programme, as well as designing and delivering energy efficient and sustainable data center solutions.
In an interview with Asia Cloud Forum, Guth explained Global Switch’s business decision for setting up “Hong Kong’s largest data center,” its target customers in the city, and the types of positions it is looking to fill over the next 24 months. Interview excerpts below:
Asia Cloud Forum: Hong Kong is known for its space constraints and high land prices. Why did Global Switch choose to build such as large data center in Hong Kong?
David Guth: Global Switch concentrates on what we refer to as tier 1 markets which are key regional communications hubs. Hong Kong is clearly a tier 1 market and has always been a strategic location for Global Switch and its customers.
Identifying an ideal site for Global Switch’s first Hong Kong site has taken some time and a lot of due diligence. The Tseung Kwan O site is everything we have been seeking, in terms of location, scale, connectivity and prestige. A combination of factors made Hong Kong an ideal data center location, including reliable energy infrastructure, a skilled workforce, a vibrant internet economy, cheap and ubiquitous ultra-fast broadband connections, a competitive telecoms sector and an environment that enabled trade, finance and business growth.
Building these large scale centers allows us to benefit from top quality, highly efficient plant and equipment which contribute to low total cost of ownership which in turn promotes cost efficiencies for our customers.
Who are your target customers in Hong Kong? Has Global Switch already signed up the first customer for its new Hong Kong facility?
Guth: Global Switch has a high quality blue chip global customer base and given the depth and length of our customer relationships we fully anticipate that many of our initial customers in Hong Kong will come from our existing customers and indeed we have acquired the site in Hong Kong in response to their expansion needs.
What positions is Global Switch looking to fill in the upcoming Hong Kong office?
Guth: Global Switch is committed to putting in place a high quality leadership team in Hong Kong and we will be announcing the first appointments shortly. We recognize that having a top class team is critical to our customers’ confidence and satisfaction.
Further appointments will be made over the next 24 months as the business grows and settles into this new location, including sales, finance, facilities management, security, project management and managed services teams.
Global Switch’s staffing requirements will match its operational and services delivery programmes that will be rolled out as the data center continues to grow. Once the data center is operational, our full complement of staff will be in excess of 60 staff, ranging from engineers, security, managed services and facilities management personnel to sales, finance and administration.
Is Global Switch planning to build its second data center in Singapore? When?
Guth: Global Switch has been granted planning approval to build a 25,000 sqm data center in Woodlands, a suburb in the northern part of Singapore, approximately 15km from the existing data center in Tai Seng Avenue.
Global Switch is currently completing the final detailed design and associated tender documentation with construction expected to commence next year with the first to be operational approximately 18 months after the start of the construction.
Who are your major competitors in Asia? What makes Global Switch’s data center services unique?
Guth: Operating in the wholesale part of the data center market our main competitors comes from organizations retaining their data centers in-house .
But once they have decided to outsource, as increasing numbers are doing, then our major carrier-neutral competition would be Digital Realty Trust , I-Advantage and Equinix as enlarged by its purchase of AsiaTone . Global Switch’s key differentiators relate to its scale and to its track record in the region.
The scale of our data centers are technically and commercially attractive as an alternative to those customers considering building their own facility as well as smaller multinational and local data center customers seeking a reliable, cost effective and scalable third-party data center . In both circumstances, the operational scale of a Global Switch data center and the opportunity to share central engineering infrastructure with multiple other parties, represents cost and operational efficiencies that would not be available to smaller or single user data centers.
Explain Global Switch’s green initiatives in its data center design and operation.
Guth: Global Switch is committed to reducing the impact of its data centers on the environment and to delivering sustainable solutions to its customers with tangible benefits such as lower PUE’s and operating costs.
Global Switch is currently targeting a LEED rating of Platinum across its new facilities in the region as well as the Platinum Green Mark rating in Singapore. Methodologies used to achieve these ratings include; selection of highly efficient plant and equipment, incorporation of ‘green roofs’ where possible, use of ‘free cooling’ where the environmental conditions allow and rainwater harvesting and reuse.
Global Switch is also considering other methods for Hong Kong such as utilizing the adjacent sea water for its cooling purposes, reducing its reliance on towns supply. Global Switch is currently in the process of achieving ISO 14001 across its global portfolio.