How Globalinx is maximising the continental edge

29 November 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

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Speaking to Natalie Bannerman, Greg Twitt, CEO of Globalinx, discusses the growing popularity of Virginia Beach in the subsea world, what unique opportunities reside there and how Globalinx is capitalising on them.

The continental edge is described as the easternmost direct interconnectivity point between Europe and the US. With the major disruption in 2012 that Hurricane Sandy brought to the New York and New Jersey corridors, Virginia Beach has become the obvious safeguard and continental edge location for new transatlantic subsea cables to make terrestrial landfall.

One of the companies leading the way in Virginia Beach is Globalinx. The company operates a subsea carrier-neutral colocation campus and cable landing station (CLS) that offers carrier-neutral interconnection capabilities.

“Virginia Beach is such a strategic and unobstructed location in the ocean for subsea cables to terminate at,” explains Globalinx CEO Greg Twitt. “With over 70% of the world’s data centre traffic being routed through Ashburn in northern Virginia, Virginia Beach now plays a key role in being a major hub to provide the safest and shortest route to Ashburn through the Globalinx ecosystem. Knowing how important diversity and redundancy is to our industry, Virginia Beach has been on a lot of people’s radar for years being viewed as a new continental edge location away from the data centre clusters of New York, New Jersey and Florida.”

In addition to its advantageous location and top-tier facilities Globalinx also has the added advantage of Telxius’s MAREA and BRUSA cable systems landing within its campus. Its phase-one facility is less than a mile away from MAREA and BRUSA, and customers can “simply order a cross connect from our facility and be directly connected to these subsea cables via two diverse 864-strand dark fibre network,” he adds.

“Globalinx is the only carrier-neutral data centre in Virginia Beach that is diversely connected to Telxius’s CLS,” says Twitt. Additionally, he says, the company is giving carriers and enterprises the opportunity to extend their backbone to Globalinx’s facility for connectivity to subsea cables as well as giving enterprises a new redundant and diverse location for them to house their servers, connected to three continents.

“Globalinx is really creating a unique opportunity for the whole industry with our presence on corporate landing parkway and our connectivity to Telxius,” adds Twitt. “It is an exciting time for Globalinx, when folks within the industry mention Virginia Beach, and Globalinx is always brought up. We are for sure creating the next Ashburn, Virginia, on the shores of Virginia Beach.”

There are a number of trends affecting the sector as a whole and within subsea it is fair to say that the entry of over-the-top providers (OTTs) and content cables is the biggest one.

According to Twitt it was only a matter of time before the OTTs gained entry into the subsea cable market and grow to the dominance we have been seeing and, he predicts, will continue to see.

“The OTTs are already at that point of being the biggest carriers of bandwidth with all the new subsea cables making landfall, and all the new subsea cables being announced are driven by the OTTs,” says Twitt.

He believes that the growth of OTTs playing the role of subsea carrier operators will continue, because they need the high capacity and low costs. Over the next five years, the company predicts that OTTs will start to come up with some much-needed new subsea routes. Though operators still dominate on land, OTTs are gaining in their position in the water.

Globalinx is the owner-operator of a data centre campus and a CLS, and I was curious to know what side of the argument Twitt sits on when it comes to the growing trend of subsea cables forgoing the CLS and connecting directly at the data centre. He acknowledges the trend is increasing because of its lower cost and route diversification, but he says that this benefits Globalinx. “We bring both our CLS and data centre campus to subsea cable owners”. Globalinx’s campus is less than 10 miles from the ocean, reducing risk.

Looking ahead, the economics of connecting at a data centre mean the trend unlikely to end any time soon. “It is becoming clear that the reason for the trend is the overall economics driving cable projects to data centres. With subsea cables terminating in a data centre where customers reside, they don’t have to pay for backhaul costs to connect to a subsea cable and landing station.”

The new year is set to be just as eventful for Globalinx. It plans areto complete its phase one, two and three data centres in the first quarter.
The company will play a key role in the 2019 Hampton Roads regional broadband initiative, for which Globalinx’s data centre and cable landing station campus will act as a connection point for the regional fibre ring.