Big Interview

Interview with AJ Byers, president and CEO of Root Data Centers

Root Data Centers’ AJ Byers explains to Capacity why Montréal is the new hub for data centres.

Some of the biggest names in the data centre market are choosing Montréal as the location for their newest facilities. With the lowest power electricity rates in the region and low latency connectivity to North American hubs - like New York City and Boston - Google, Amazon, Microsoft are just a few of the key players to recognise the benefits of Montréal and have recently made the move.

Speaking to AJ Byers, CEO at Root Data Centers, he explained what makes Montréal so appealing: “The data centre business was traditionally built on direct business with enterprises and SMB’s with each individual company outsourcing their technical infrastructure in the colocation facility, many of them managing that infrastructure themselves. When the cloud came in 5-8 years ago, there was a huge shift and much of the colocation business today is enterprises and SMB’s buying directly from cloud service providers, who have a very clear idea of what they want. Cost is a very big item as well as green/renewable energy and speed.” All of which Montréal is known for. 

Root Data Center, which was founded and resides in Montréal, leverages many of these positives and passes on those benefits to its customers. 

All of the green energy that Montréal has in droves is a completely renewable source, as its all hydro-dam produced electricity, created from early investment by the Canadian government a number of years ago.

“On top of cost-effective data centres we’ve created new design and construction methodologies. This allows us to deploy Tier 3 level data centres at a lower cost than many of our competitors. We’re leveraging a new technology called Kyoto Cooling which has power utilisation effectiveness of 1.17. This reduces the amount of power that is consumed by our customers, producing a low-cost service in the data centre market for enterprises and small businesses,” said Byers.

Root also offers a very unique offering in the colocation market, according to Byers. “We’ve developed a methodology where we can actually deploy data centre services for a customer in under 120 days and that’s large scale data centre services.”

“Most of our competitors and the majority of the market will take between 9 to 12 months to deploy the same amount of capacity,” said Byers in regards to the demand he sees coming from both enterprise and cloud for fast large scale deployment. 

Having joined Root two years ago to help it with its growth strategy, Byers transitioned into the position of CEO just over a year ago and his focus has been on two key areas: scaling the business and “creating the finance the company requires to grow rapidly”. Byers said the company had only 16 employees 18 months ago and it’s at roughly 45 today. But out of all the obstacles he’s faced in his role, he goes on to say that ramping up a company from an operational maturity perspective is the toughest challenge yet, as he put it: “It’s tough to manufacture operational maturity.”

What’s clear however is that Root pushes the boundaries of data centre technologies and innovations. A number of years ago it had the first data centre to accept Bitcoins as currency. Byers explained: “Early on we had a couple of customers who wanted to pay using Bitcoin, and we’re a very innovative company so we decided to accept the currency. It just really shows our willingness to be innovative, and shows who we are as an organisation.”

With the advent of the cloud and proximity no longer of concern to enterprises, the data centre, colocation market is transformed to one where, cloud service providers are the new customers and they know exactly what they want. With the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market expected to reach heights of roughly $200 billion by the year 2020, the potential for growth is unparalleled.”

To find out more, please read Root Data Centers' latest whitepaper on the Montréal market.