DATA4: Hyper-connectivity plans to conquer Europe
DATA4, the European colocation data centre provider, has revealed some of its hyper-connectivity plans to build 19 facilities over the next five years as it strives to become a leading operator in Europe.
For Olivier Micheli, president of the DATA4 Group, the extension of data centres on its Cornaredo site outside Milan and the recent opening of a similar campus in the suburbs of Madrid are just the beginning of a broader expansion project in Europe.
Following its hyper-connectivity model, he says: "DATA4 plans to build 19 additional data centres over the next five years, 7 of which are already under construction. With this asset base, we aim to become the leading data centre operator in Europe.”
The colocation data centre provider, which designs, builds and operates its own facilities, says that it has the largest and most powerful data centre campus in Europe and that its land power capacity is unique in the European market. It has plans to further equip its data centres with enhanced network infrastructure that interconnect business IT with their suppliers and customers more efficiently.
DATA4 Milan Campus
Since 2014, DATA4 has invested more than €150 million in its Cornaredo data centre campus, which is located just 7km outside Milan, to better equip its facilities and position itself as a true European internet hub.
DATA4’s Milan campus hosts four hyper-connected data centres and it has facilitated the rollout of hybrid IT environments with combined private and public clouds. The campus is interconnected to over 70 telecom operators and has direct access to over 145 public cloud platforms. The Group has revealed its intention to inject an equivalent €150 million over the next five years to construct six other data centres in this campus.
As it is carrier-neutral, the hub is at an ideal digital crossroads for hosting the flows of all online service providers converge, as well as a gateway for communications between the West, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. DATA4’s hyper-connected Milan-Cornaredo campus is situated at the crossroads between the various telecom paths originating from subsea cables from the Mediterranean basin and the fibre networks connecting the main European capitals.
The challenge of offering multiple interconnection possibilities is to centralise an ecosystem. On the one hand, the Milan-Cornaredo campus is likely to attract a large number of operators and content providers, as it is at the crossroads of internet highways that serve a very large number of customers as quickly as possible. On the other hand, it attracts companies because the diversity of telecoms providers located there guarantees them the benefit of competition between service providers and a wide range of services.
"In Milan, our new 1,000 sq m IT rooms are in fact located next to more than 500 sq m of hosted rooms for carriers. While this type of layout was initially intended only to connect telecom lines to the information systems we host, today it houses the main operators' connection nodes, in order to make exchanges as smooth as possible,” says Jérôme Totel, VP of product management and strategy at DATA4.
From the DATA4 Milan campus, national and international operators can set up their points of presence with the guarantee of a very high level of availability and in a secured, redundant location, for receiving traffic from the Mediterranean Basin as well as transmitting to European destinations or aggregating it to European traffic for Asia, the Emirates and Africa.
A special feature of this site is that dozens of 10cm diametre ducts that can individually accommodate hundreds of optical fibres surround each building.
A Key Gateway for Partners
The DATA4 campus does not only appeal to local economic players. International carriers such as Colt, GTT, Sparkle, Telia, euNetworks, Verizon, Zayo, or Cogent have also installed points of presence (PoPs).
"For a service provider such as Retelit, which provides infrastructure services, it was crucial to work with a colocation operator such as DATA4. With the help of a dedicated team, we were able to face the technological challenges in a market where everything changes very quickly. As a result, we are now providing our customers and carriers with state-of-the-art infrastructure at no additional cost," says Diego Teot, international sales director at Retelit.
Davide Binaghi, managing director of Telia Carrier Italy, states: "We chose to install a PoP on the DATA4 site in Milan for several reasons: rich data centre services, high security, and an attractive economic location. But the fact that DATA4 focuses on telecom carriers and companies resonates above all with our offers, which consist in linking 35 countries from our own fibre backbones.”
The DATA4 Cornaredo campus is also interconnected – via multiple redundant fibres – to the Milan Internet Exchange (MIX) exchange point in Caldera, the San Siro area of Milan. Having a dedicated PoP helps to enable the transparent exchange of internet traffic between all interconnected operators.
"When MIX was founded in 2000, there was no infrastructure in Milan. So we built our own IT room, which allowed Milan to become one of the main points in Southern Europe for technological investments," says Valeria Rossi, general manager of MIX.
"Since the arrival of DATA4, our position has been reinforced. Working together, we can meet the needs of ISPs, telecom operators, cloud providers and content publishers with high quality colocation, highly available interconnections and direct links. This good relationship encourages us to further increase our collaboration to continuously bring new opportunities to our common customers.”
Four categories of customers are located at the DATA4 campus in Milan. Italian companies are storing their servers and storage racks and, in the carrier rooms, the telecom providers of these companies are bringing in dedicated lines to connect their offices to this centralised computing.
More recently, cloud and service providers have arrived. They rent very large areas - hundreds of sq m - and several hundred kilowatts to install their service platforms to run virtual machines or software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. In parallel, they are moving into DATA4's carrier rooms to allow them to interconnect with their service providers and business customers who want private and secure connections to public cloud platforms.
"At first, cloud providers were favouring a connection to their services over the internet. However, many large customers, such as banks, do not want to use the internet. They demand private and secure connectivity with very strong service commitments. As a result, these suppliers found themselves having to set up in our carrier rooms to deploy private network nodes. In this situation, they invite their customers to buy private links from operators and the latter connect these links in our carrier rooms to the network infrastructures brought by cloud providers," explains DATA4’s Totel.
Due to the surge in hybrid cloud adoption, large data centre providers like DATA4 are much more focused today on evolving network infrastructure for hyper-connectivity.
"Companies' needs have changed. It is no longer a question of being able to access their data centre from headquarters, but of connecting this data centre to their customers' data centre directly, for the best possible performance," adds Totel.
The latest category of customers at DATA4 are the booming number of companies that want to move to the hybrid cloud, where they mix private computing and cloud-based solutions. The advantage of a campus such as DATA4’s Milan-Cornaredo site is the simplicity of directly connecting various machines hosted there without needing to subscribe to a private link with the operators.
"The trend of hybrid cloud is inevitable. We have observed companies rushing to the public cloud as an extension of a data centre but a number are realising that a direct and private connection to link their private cloud and their public cloud would be much better in terms of overall control and security, adds Totel.