Emerging markets such as India are facing challenges in terms of broadband connectivity, with one of the lowest site fiberisation percentages in the world, despite the highest amount of consumption per user on a mobile tower. Th­e­se challenges also extend to the data centre environment where achieving benefits like high uptime is difficult. However, hy­perscalers require dedicated and exclusive low-latency networks between data centres to handle high traffic. In addition, hy­perscalers need reliable background or overhead connectivity with lower link loss, 24×7 reliable networks and faster identification of cuts and rectification to enable lower mean time to repair (MTTR). With the rapid development of new data centres, a shorter go-to-market will facilitate faster integration with new points of presence, nodes or data centres. Ultra-low-la­tency networks will also help in creating several different routes or paths.

Data centre landscape in MMR

Currently, there are more than 30 data ce­ntres and five landing stations in the Mu­mbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Re­gion (MMR). These facilities consume ar­ound 314 MW of inventory and 5.35 million square feet of real estate for their op­e­rations and maintenance. Further, 264 MW of data centre inventory with a cu­mulative area of 3 million square feet is un­der construction in the MMR. Over the next three years, Mumbai is projected to account for more than 57 per cent of the incremental data centre capacity added by the industry until December 2024.

To ensure high uptime, a minimum of four different paths will be required bet­ween landing stations and data centres. Gi­v­en the increasing network load, 750 km of unique underground fibre paths will be required in the MMR to provide connectivity between submarine landing stations and all data centres. This will entail a capital expenditure of around Rs 12 million per km, totalling around Rs 9 billion over the next three years. Due to challenges in the MMR, such as only eight months of roll-out season per year, and the time required for right-of-way permit processing in different jurisdictions, nearly three years will be required to roll out all fibre paths.

Data centre landscape in Chennai

Chennai at present has more than 10 data centres and four landing stations with a cumulative inventory of 76 MW and 1.38 million square feet of real estate used for data centre purposes. A total of 96 MW and 1 million square feet of inventory are currently under construction for data centres. Till December 2024, Chennai is expected to have more than 25 per cent of the industry’s incremental data centre capacity build.

In view of the growing demand, 500 km of unique underground fibre paths will be required in Chennai to provide connectivity between all the submarine landing stations and data centres. At a capex of Rs 2.5 million per km, the total investment required in the underground fibre network is estimated to be Rs 1.25 billion in the ne­xt three years. However, Chennai has five to six months of roll-out season in a year, which will require two to three years to roll out all fibre paths.

Digital infrastructure and NaaS companies

Digital infrastructure and network-as-a-service (NaaS) companies are key players in the data centre domain. In the planning ph­a­se, they offer the ability to customise route planning to cater to customer segment requirements such as low latency and better link budgets. They also offer the flexibility to provide higher fibre pair cou­nts based on demand requirements. Mean­while, they of­fer expertise in on-ground ex­e­cution in last-mile micro-geographies during the roll-out stage. They also coordinate with the local authorities and have a strong project management framework that enables them to deliver projects within time and budget. In terms of operations and maintenance, they provide high-touch management and maintenance, employ experienced patroller teams on the ground for 24×7 surveillance to provide the lowest possible MTTR, and operate a dedicated network operations ce­ntre to monitor routes, systems and proce­sses, and track fault tickets.

Edge data centres

Edge data centres provide enhanced security and scalability, reduced latency, higher resiliency and lower data costs. Digital in­fra­structure and NaaS companies offer deep edge capability as they cater to a large number of geographic locations, granting access to content/cloud providers and en­abling edge data centres and multi-access edge computing. They are also co-located with telecom carrier networks, which are the source of traffic generation. Further, th­e­se companies provide adequate power and space to meet content and cloud provider demands, a high percentage of fiberised lo­cations to minimise capacity constraints, and the ability to upgrade to deliver future capacity requirements. s

Based on a presentation by Kunal Bajaj, CEO and Co-Founder, CloudExtel