A big global adventure

11 May 2017

NxtVn welcomed in 2017 by launching its second data centre park, in Eemshaven in the Groningen region of the Netherlands – but its first two launches are just the beginning. The company has a whole roadmap of data centre parks planned to bring its forward-looking concept to customers of all types around the world, says founder and CEO Khaled Sedrak

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Khaled Sedrak 680x450It’s early days for NxtVn’s data centre parks – but the company is already thinking about its next steps. And not just a few, but a whole series of them.

The vision is to have a cluster of such parks around the world, from the US in the west to the Far East, taking in Europe, Africa and the Middle East on the way. This comes after NxtVn opened its first two data centre parks, in January 2016 in Finland and in January 2017 in the Netherlands, followed more recently by Virginia Beach in the state of Virginia on the US east coast, and Alexandria in Egypt.

 While the data centre market is fairly lucrative for many, NxtVn has elected to always look forward by investing in shaping the future of this industry, rather than staying stuck in the present or past. This is reflected in the company’s name, which is a contraction of "next venture", or "next adventure". 

"It’s a message about our philosophy," says founder and CEO Khaled Sedrak, who formed the company more than three years ago. "We learn from the past and take it into consideration, but really our focus at NxtVn is always about what is 'next’ rather than what has already been done."

This also strongly reflects Sedrak’s own perspective on the technology and ICT world. "Typically, if others are doing it then I am not interested in it – I like to invest in the new… the future," he says.

NxtVn believes the unique value it can provide to customers lies in the integrated services it can offer them, based on an ethos of full openness and neutrality. Sedrak is keen to stress that the company does not follow any kind of prescriptive approach, and instead wants its clients to have the freedom to decide how much they want NxtVn to do for them within its set of capabilities, and where they want to deploy their digital infrastructure in the world.

To help give them this kind of freedom of choice, the company is not only deploying its cluster of parks globally, but also ensuring that its services are offered in a menu-type style for customers to select from.

The idea is that NxtVn has the ability to provide customers with all the key functions they need to get into the data centre market by having a robust offer in each of what Sedrak terms the two big "domains" in this arena – data centre space and connectivity. "These are the building blocks for any digital approach, whether you are a cloud player, colocation provider or Internet-of-Everything company," he says.

Sedrak emphasises, however, that NxtVn is not a data centre operator itself, but a company that facilitates any players wanting to enter that market quickly and in a cost-efficient way, no matter what their size or identity. Being open to both the largest and smallest players in the market will also help "level the playing field", he says.

Well set-up in advance

NxtVn’s strategy is to find the best data centre locations around the world that it thinks hold real promise for deployments, with the ability to accommodate a campus that could host multiple data centres, an open environment conducive to helping customers rapidly build facilities, and no major obstacles to operating. 

The company then ensures that the site is well-connected in terms of fibre and a strong presence from carriers and telecoms operators, as well as being well-served by the electricity grid.

NxtVn negotiates everything relating to matters such as the power grid, power substations, environmental approvals, licensing and permits – all things that can have long lead times and be very costly for those making moves in the data centre market. Sedrak summarises this approach as NxtVn doing all the "heavy lifting" so that customers do not have to worry at all about this side of the equation and can instead focus on their core business.

In this way, the company is fulfilling all the fundamental requirements in both "domains" it identifies to enable customers to deploy their data centres. At the moment, says Sedrak, cloud players often have to address these two domains of space and connectivity separately – creating uncertainties and making the already complex and lengthy process more disjointed, expensive and, most importantly, unpredictable. 

"We at NxtVn focus on both of the two worlds of data centre space and connectivity," he says. "It is our view that these should be combined into one integrated offering. If you develop an application for adoption around the world, you should not have to worry about the space and connectivity in two separate worlds."

Customers that move into the parks also have the choice of taking care of all the construction work and running of basic operational infrastructure in their data centres completely on their own, or asking NxtVn, or its business partners, to step in and help them with these functions. 

The bottom line, says Sedrak, is that everything is done on an open and non-exclusive basis, with customers not dictated to when deciding how they want to run their data centres and all clients viewed as equals. He views the concept of exclusivity as something that allows players that resort to its false comfort in the market to become less proactive and competitive. "In NxtVn’s book, the word exclusivity doesn’t exist." 

Opening up options

This ethos is also part of the reason why the company is moving towards a global footprint, which both offers customers a wide variety of options for where to deploy data centres and avoids giving the impression of favouring particular sites over others. 

"We’re not trying to force-feed our customers and say forget about all the other locations because our hub in Eemshaven, the Netherlands, is really the holy grail of sites, or that the Finnish data centre park where we started in Halli is the ultimate location. I think that’s wrong, because there is no one-size-fits-all and there is no such thing as the ultimate site. That doesn’t exist; each NxtVn Park has its own DNA" says Sedrak.

That said, sites such as the one in Finland, where NxtVn gained more than 31,000 square metres of ready-to-use buildings after the country’s armed forces closed down their airbase in Halli, the city of Jämsä, in 2013, offer some distinct advantages. 

For one thing, it enjoys a Nordic weather advantage because it’s cold there for much of the year, which reduces data centre running costs. It is also well-connected to a Nordic electricity grid that provides some of the most stable electricity infrastructure in the world, as well as having competitive energy pricing and direct fibre connectivity between Finland and mainland Europe through the C-Lion1 subsea cable that lands in Rostock, Germany, which have attracted a number of major internet companies and cloud players that have invested in data centres there. Furthermore, says Sedrak, the country is seen as a bridge between East and West.

For some of these general "Nordic advantages", NxtVn is also  working on launching its data centre park concept into Sweden and Norway. However, the point that Sedrak is again keen to stress is that all data centre parks have their own specific plus points and the company is not seeking to favour one location over any other, but instead to offer a broad array of options.

"Of course, each site has to be competitive, but at the end of the day every location has a uniqueness that at NxtVn we call the DNA of the park," says Sedrak. There is no single factor that takes precedence over everything else, he says.

Global view

NxtVn launched its cluster of connected data centre park concept between both Finland and the Netherlands in January 2017 to give customers a choice of sites right from the beginning. Since then, it has added the sites in Virginia Beach and Egypt, the latter of which it sees as having great potential because of the number of cables traversing that part of the world as a key connection point between regions – which will open a host of opportunities for clients to distribute their data centre workload across multiple NxtVn parks spanning multiple countries and continents.

On the company’s roadmap for the next couple of years are also locations in France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia, with longer-term plans for entry into the Far East. It will certainly, therefore, be a busy time for the company as it establishes its global footprint.

To complement its data centre parks and augment connectivity for its clients in those locations, NxtVn is also looking to roll out several subsea cable projects – although Sedrak stresses that these are only in a concept phase at present, with the cables still under discussion and design. 

The first of these is known as the NxtVn Oulu Nordic Express (NxtVn ONE), planned to connect Finland and Sweden via a subsea cable in the Gulf of Bothnia; the second is the NxtVn Eemshaven Nordic Hub (NxtVn ENH), which will connect the company’s current park in Eemshaven, the Netherlands, to Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ireland and the UK; and the final one is the NxtVn North Atlantic Express (NxtVn NAE), intended to cross the Atlantic and connect New York/New Jersey and Virginia Beach on the US east coast to the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.

Sedrak believes that these cables will, alongside the company’s data centre parks, help create a robust set of infrastructure around the world for any player that wants to enter the data centre world. And he believes the time is ripe for concepts such as that offered by NxtVn.

"Growth in the market is exciting at the moment and there is no chance that it will slow," says Sedrak. "It will just keep on increasing." In this environment, he says, fresh, dynamic approaches will be needed because "the old models will not continue to stand".

For more information, please visit nxtvn.com

Topics: Capacity media, NxtVn, Khaled Sedrak, data centre park