Big Interview

Content is driving GCX’s network

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Global Cloud Xchange has invested in its Cumulous Network for Indian cloud services to support technology and finance customers in Chennai and Mumbai.

Reliance Communications’ global infrastructure company is thriving thanks to India’s booming software and IT industry. Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), which used to be Reliance Globalcom, has built a 100Gbps network, Cumulous Network, connecting seven provincial capital cities with international gateways in Chennai and Mumbai. 

Bill Barney, co-CEO of RCom and chairman and CEO of GCX, says: “Chennai and Mumbai are both powerhouse cities and gateways for the major tech and financial institutions doing business across the Indian subcontinent. The new Cumulous Network will complement our digital backbone as we complete deployment of our cloud infrastructure across India.”

Look at a cable map of the Indian Ocean and most of the cables come in from the west into Mumbai and in from the east into Chennai. “All of the cable goes to Mumbai and Chennai. The networks come into these locations.” And that’s where India’s high-tech industry is based, says Barney. “It’s where you find 30-60% of all the software business and the core locations for IT services. These places are heavily populated with applications guys. It’s where Silicon Valley goes to build their widgets, and the financial services go there too. It’s where the big traffic flows are happening.”

Cumulous Network – unconnected with the US-based Linux specialist Cumulus Networks – will connect seamlessly into GCX’s global subsea infrastructure and will interconnect with Reliance Communications’ established network of data centres.

“In India we’re the largest fibre operator and the second largest data centre operator,” says Barney.

“Reliance has got a massive fibre network. What used to be internet locations are now cloud locations. We call these the cloud internet exchanges – cloud IXs – and we’re building a network for those customers.”

Customers are largely from the Fortune 500 sector, he adds, “skewed heavily to the financial sector and the technology side. Many of the Chinese technology customers are our customers, as well as the Indian companies.”

The advent of 4G in India “has changed the landscape” across the country, he says. 

“There are 100 million dongles in India – they’re just a dumb internet connection. India is a very interesting market. It developed very late.”

The former Reliance Globalcom switched to the new GCX brand to reflect the way the industry is changing, says Barney. “We believe fibre and data centres will be cloud exchanges,” he says. “It’s about getting to as many data centres as possible. This is the right strategy we embarked on three years ago.”

In the future, “companies will move from owned infrastructure to shared infrastructure”. It will be a long job: “It means 10 years of transformation but we will get to the point where everyone is virtualising infrastructure.”

GCX is “going well in India and Asia”, he notes. “The European market is very strong.” It’s a focus on those rapidly developing markets in Europe and Asia, though “in the US, there is increasing manpower on the east and west coasts on the financial corridor”, he adds. 

“We see growth coming over the next couple of years.”

And there are other places connected to GCX’s fat pipe, he says. “We’ve done a lot in the Middle East, in Iraq and Iran, in Cyprus. We have put a massive effort into Europe,” adds Barney. 

The big opportunity now is data centres, he says, partly helped by the Indian government’s wish for data to be stored within the country. 

“You’re seeing more and more people coming to India,” he says. Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is redefining the rules”, he adds. “There will be a fast growth in data centres – because there is a lot of Indian content.” The Bollywood movie industry – named after Bombay, the old name for Mumbai – “makes three times the movies that Hollywood makes”, he says. “And there’s a big audience, with 400 million middle class people in India.” 

Power problems are less frequent than they used to be, he says, and data centres are getting bigger. “Three years ago it was rare to see 4-10MW data centres, and now you’re starting to see 50-100MW.”

Chennai and Mumbai – the end points of the new Cumulous Network – are seeing major investment in data centres. “We have a data centre in Chennai and now we’re looking to extend it,” he promises.