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Colt to expand datacentre footprint in APAC

Datacentre service provider Colt is laying the groundwork to build datacentres in India and Singapore, and is working on new datacentre technologies to improve energy efficiency

Datacentre service provider Colt is planning to launch its own datacentre facilities in India and Singapore in a bid to expand its growing footprint across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in an exclusive interview, Quy Nguyen, vice-president for global accounts and solutions at Colt, said the company has applied for land allocation from Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and state-owned real estate company JTC Corporation in December 2017.

Once its application is approved by the authorities, Nguyen said Colt will start work this year on a new datacentre expected to be located at Singapore’s datacentre park.

Meanwhile, Colt, which already runs its own datacentres in Japan, is working behind to scenes to secure “anchor deals”, mostly from China and some US companies, Nguyen said.

Colt’s decision to open a datacentre in Singapore follows years of operating out of co-located facilities run by Digital Reality Trust in Singapore and HKCOLO in Hong Kong. 

“We did that mainly for speed to market – we wanted to get into those markets quickly and our intent was to launch our own datacentres after we understood those markets well enough,” he said.

Nguyen, however, said for now there are no plans to expand its presence in Hong Kong, a market that is being dominated by Chinese datacentre providers. 

“It’s very difficult to get big anchor demand unless you are a Chinese company. Right now, the Chinese are willing to work with us outside of China, but when it’s Hong Kong or China, they would rather work with the likes of GDS.”

It is a different tune for Colt in India, where the company is looking to secure land for a new datacentre in Navi Mumbai by the first quarter of 2018, potentially offering more than 100MW of IT power capacity.

Hyper-scale cloud providers have created edge nodes in India, but most of them are still hosting data in Singapore or areas outside India. The growth of India has reached an inflexion point where they plan to bring computing resources into India,” Nguyen said.

Other markets that Colt is looking at are the fast-growing markets of Malaysia and Indonesia where it has seen some demand. However, Nguyen said those markets are also relatively small, given that the company prefers to build large-scale datacentres.

“Unless you have an edge datacentre, it’s quite difficult to make money on a small scale. You really have to build it big to make a return in this business,” he said. “Although there were pockets of customer interest, we felt that the risk was higher in developing markets but it’s something we’re keeping an eye on.”

Read more about datacentres in APAC

Along with plans to build new datacentres in Singapore and India, Colt will also be introducing new datacentre technology to minimise the power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio – a measure of energy efficiency – of its new facilities.

Nguyen said the company is currently working with a manufacturer in the UK to develop dry heat exchanges, with oversized cooling coils that can potentially offer a PUE ratio of about 1.3 to 1.35, rather than push a lot of water through in adiabatic cooling systems, which are not energy-efficient in hot and humid Southeast Asia.

“There’s also the issue of getting good quality water in India,” Nguyen said, adding that the new technology will help Colt overcome the water usage issue in the subcontinent.

Additionally, Colt is redesigning its power distribution systems to avoid the use of costly switch gears to step down the voltage supplied to server racks, as well as partnering with Huawei to introduce modular uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units that can be swapped out easily.

According to Frost and Sullivan, the APAC datacentre services market was worth $14.13bn in revenue in 2016, representing a growth of 15.3% over 2015. The market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.7% from 2015 to 2022 to reach $31.95bn at the end of 2022.

The analyst company said much of this growth will be driven by the “explosive digital needs of emerging economies with huge populations, such as China, India and Indonesia”.

Read more on Datacentre capacity planning

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