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Forming the pillars of digitisation

Jérôme Totel
Jérôme Totel

Connectivity is crucial in today’s world as economies undergo digital transformation. Jérôme Totel, vice-president of strategy at Paris-headquartered data-centre provider DATA4 Group, outlines how data centres can act as a pillar for growth in Europe alongside the rollout of more submarine cables.

Today, the need for connectivity is recognised more than ever as economies around the world undergo digital transformation. This has been further highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, accelerating the pace of change.

The growing needs are being catered for by the construction of an increasing number of major submarine cables. “What we can see in Europe is that we have more and more submarine cables,” says Jérôme Totel, vice-president of strategy at Paris-headquartered data-centre provider DATA4 Group.

He points to the recent rise of cables including Google’s Dunant and Orange’s Amitié, both landing in Europe from the Americas and both having landing points in France. Totel notes the increasing involvement of hyperscalers such as Google and Facebook in subsea cable rollouts, adding more options to the traditional carrier-led cables and changing the shape of the market.

In this environment, data centres are growing ever more prominent as pillars of digitisation to support this connectivity and the accompanying boom in data that needs to be hosted. Totel emphasises the importance of the two elements growing side by side to fully complement each other.

“It’s crucial to have the data centre market and the connectivity market completely linked, because a data centre without connectivity is not a real data centre – and submarine cables without data centres are not very useful,” says Totel. “That’s why the two markets are completely linked.”

Campus footprint

In light of these trends, his company, DATA4, has sought to locate its data centre campuses at key interconnection points, enabling customers to harness the flow of digital traffic through Europe. By combining several data centres together into campuses at these sites, the company transforms them into connectivity nodes that enable multiple players to converge.

DATA4, which finances, designs, constructs and operates its own data centres, currently has campuses in Paris, Milan in Italy, Madrid in Spain, and Luxembourg. It is also currently constructing one in Jawczyce, just outside Warsaw in Poland. This 50MW data campus, which will consist of three buildings, is due to open in the first quarter of next year.

In total, DATA4 currently has 25 data centres across its campuses, with a portfolio comprising 137 hectares of land and 384MW of energy.

The group provides customers with interconnection services in a secure manner not only to more than 220 telecoms and cloud operators, but also to a full ecosystem of partners providing value-added services, and to ISPs and key European internet exchange nodes. This type of ecosystem, believes DATA4, is key to the growth of connectivity by allowing the market to grow together and support the needs of hyperscalers and enterprises alike.

Cloud balance

Totel emphasises, meanwhile, that as this ecosystem expands, cloud-to-cloud connectivity is becoming more crucial, with enterprises having connections to different public clouds such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. “It’s important to have cloud-to-cloud connectivity with quality of service and low-latency interconnection,” he says.

But companies also need to balance this with the need for using private cloud for the control of critical data and to ensure compliance with General Data Protection Regulation. The challenge is therefore to enable secure and effective interoperability between the world of public and private cloud.

“It will be a balance between private and public cloud,” says Totel. “What we can see is that the corporate doesn’t want to remove all of its private cloud, for sure, and also doesn’t want to have one single public cloud provider – they want to have two or three.”

With respect to this, DATA4 provides a Hub Cloud service that allows customers to extend their private cloud platforms by offering direct and secure links to public cloud platforms. The aim is to ensure security and reliability, as well as optimise quality control.

The service, which harnesses the direct connection of DATA4’s campuses to more than 150 cloud destinations, is built on a private network that provides end-to-end management. It enables customers to fine-tune connections between the public and private cloud by assigning rules from their own security policy.

With these services, DATA4 enables customers to develop their own hybrid IT environment, choosing the optimal mix of services they require to support their individual needs. Alongside its wide ecosystem of players and data centres in key locations, the company believes it is therefore fully prepared to meet the coming market needs as connectivity continues to ramp up.

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