Aman Khan, Managing Director, Frankfurt of leading data centre provider Global Switch, discusses a major new project in Frankfurt...
Trust lies at the heart of every business – and every business deal. Without it, you have uncertainty, fear and possible catastrophe. Nowhere is trust more fundamental than when choosing a data centre, the potential custodian of your most valuable and sensitive assets.
Aman Khan, Managing Director of Global Switch Frankfurt, is committed to the company’s ambitions to place trust front and centre of its operations. “When enterprises, telecom companies or cloud providers come to us to host their IT or backbone infrastructure, it is as though they are giving us the keys to their homes,” Khan explains. “It is extremely critical to them, and they need total confidence and trust in us.”
Global Switch’s customers not only need to trust its infrastructure and the security, performance and reliability it provides, but also the company’s financial stability and stature within the marketplace. After all, who wants to place all of their most prized assets into the hands of a precarious operation? “We are the highest credit rated data centre company in the world,” he says. “In addition, we own and operate all our data centres under freehold or under the longest leasehold available in the markets where freeholds are not offered due to local regulation. We do not rent – whenever we develop a data centre we own it, which gives us the added flexibility to scale it easily and meet customer demand. It is one of our key differentiators and gives customers peace of mind.”
2018 marks Global Switch’s 20-year anniversary – the past two decades have seen the company establish itself as one of the world’s leading operators with a portfolio of 11 large-scale data centres in eight locations across Europe and Asia-Pacific operated to a Tier III standard or higher. The total size of the company’s data centres – all 100% carrier and cloud neutral – comes in at 340,000 sq m with a massive 357MVA (mega volt amps) of total connected utility power capacity.
The company's focus is on highly resilient, central, low latency, network dense locations in prime city centre areas and internet hubs close to its customers on the edge of financial and business districts. Due to customer demand from financial institutions, enterprises, global systems integrators, cloud providers, telecoms, managed service providers and other hosting businesses as well as government organisations Global Switch is part way through a significant global expansion plan with developments and upgrades currently underway in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt is home to Global Switch’s next major development in Europe. Built by Mercury Engineering, the €115mn Frankfurt North data centre – due to be operational in 2019 – will provide an additional 11,000 sq m of space with 14MVA power supply capacity to the company’s operations there and will be adjacent to Global Switch’s existing data centre, Frankfurt South. Customers will have access to a wide range of cloud and network providers as well as the DE-CIX peering platform allowing direct access to the global IP backbone, already available from Frankfurt South. Once Frankfurt North launches, the campus will provide around 28,000 sq m of space with 28MVA utility power supply capacity.
So how does a company like Global Switch gain a competitive advantage over its rivals when so many are providing similar services? “One of our key differentiators is that we provide truly bespoke solutions according to our customers’ needs. In addition to our state-of-the-art security and green-energy data centre environment, our best-in-class Critical Environments Programme (CEP) and our highly skilled data centre engineers and management team are what set us apart.”
Highly experienced Khan, who has spent over 20 years in senior management in the IT and telco markets, is justly proud of Global Switch’s operational excellence. “We have very rigorous procedures and processes in place,” he explains. “Our CEP is regarded as one of the most robust in the industry and ensures a consistent approach to operational delivery. Its primary objective is to ensure risks are effectively controlled to provide unrivalled uptime. These best-in-class operating procedures and practices are supported by continuous improvement programmes and comprehensive training. For that reason, Frankfurt South, since its launch, has enjoyed 100% uptime. This shows that the architects and technical design team, the processes and the people have all done an excellent job in providing that kind of availability. If you are a customer, that is what you are looking for.” It is certainly something Daily-Tech – a strategic partner of China Telecom Global – is looking for, having taken up a substantial pre-commitment in Frankfurt North.
Khan puts much of Global Switch’s success in the data centre space down to its focus. “The difference between us and many other companies over the past 20 years has been our focus on our core business. We have not tried to sell the services that our partners, system integrators, or cloud providers or telecom companies are offering. We do not want to compete with our partners. Our model has been across those 20 years, now, and in the future, built around our core business, which comprises of highly secure and resilient data centre services, and the provision of ‘home’ to primary and secondary data centres.”
Energy efficiency is at the heart of all Global Switch’s data centres. Frankfurt North, which Khan is overseeing, will feature high-efficiency static UPS and an advanced Chiller Assist system that uses both hybrid dry and water-cooled chillers, which operate for less than 10% of the year. The facility will benefit from an independently verified annualised design Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of less than 1.2 and will be targeting a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ certification.
“Energy costs across the globe have increased dramatically in the last couple of years, and Germany is no exception,” says Khan. “There are several kinds of energies which you can use for data centres including grey energy, which is not renewable, mixed energy, which is renewable and green energy, which is completely renewable. At Global Switch Frankfurt, we only use green energy.”
The downside to green energy is cost, due to country taxes and surcharges in Germany. “Germany produces green energy itself but also buys a lot of green energy from Norway and Finland,” Khan explains. “Germany has one of the highest taxes and surcharges on green energy in Europe – however these costs can be offset by Germany’s reliable infrastructure and economic stability.
“Nevertheless, at Global Switch we acquire energy at the most competitive pricing possible and use all other options available to us such as auction and hedging, etc… At the same time, we work with our customers to design their infrastructure intelligently to optimise the energy usage – after all this is a win-win game if we work together with our customers to achieve this common goal.”