The requirement for ultra-low latency network between data centres in each city has increased the scope for dedicated networks to minimise issues such as link flapping, link loss variation, core damage and others. Reliable underground or overhead connectivity with lower link loss will not only aid in faster identification of cuts and rectification enabling lower mean time to repair (MTTR), but also help secure a round-the-clock accessible network.

With new data centres coming up ra­pi­dly, a shorter go-to-market will help in faster integration with new points of pre­sen­ce/ no­des or data centres. The ul­tra-low la­ten­cy networks will also help in creating a nu­mber of different routes or multiple paths.

Fibre requirements in Mumbai and MMR

Currently, in Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), there are more than 30 data centres and five landing stations with 314 MW of inventory and 5.35 million square feet of real estate used for maintaining the data centre. A total of 264 MW of data centre inventory with a cumulative area of 3 million square feet is under construction in the MMR. With this, Mumbai is projected to account for more than 57 per cent of the industry’s in­cremental data centre capacity build in the coming three years. Besides this, some additional submarine landing stations have been planned in the city for the next three to five years.

To handle the increasing loads on the network, 750 km of unique underground fibre paths will be required in the MMR to provide connectivity between submarine landing stations and between all data centres. Given the high uptime requirements, data centres would like to plan a minimum of four different paths between themselves and other nodes, with some having even more than five different paths. For the next three years, almost a total of Rs 9,000 million of capital expenditure is required.

However, MMR faces challenges such as only eight months of roll-out season in a year and stringent right-of-way requirements in various jurisdictions.

Fibre requirements in Chennai

Chennai currently has more than 10 data centres and four landing stations with a total of 76 MW inventory, which is 1.38 million square feet of real estate under use for data centres. A cumulative 96 MW and 1 million square feet of inventory is currently under construction for data centres. The city is expected to have more than 25 per cent of the industry’s capacity build by December 2024.

To meet this 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 1,250 million in the next three years. However, Chennai has five to six months of roll-out season in a year, which would require an estimated two to three years to roll out all fibre paths.

Role of NaaS companies

Network-as-a-service (NaaS) companies play an important role in the data centre domain. In terms of planning, 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 the demand requirements. They are ex­perienced in on-ground execution in last-mile micro-geographies, and coordination with the local authorities. They have a strong project management framework that enables them to deliver projects within time and budgets. In terms of ope­rations and maintenance, they offer high-touch management and maintenance, have experienced patroller teams on ground for 24×7 surveillance to provide the lowest possible MTTR, and their dedicated network operations centre can monitor routes, systems and processes to track fault tickets.

Edge data centres

For edge data centres, NaaS companies cater to a large number of geographic loca­ti­ons, providing access to content/cloud pro­viders to enable edge data centres and multi-access edge computing. Further, they are colocated with telecom carrier networks, which are the source of generating the traffic. They also provide adequate po­w­er and space to cater to the content and cloud provider demands. Moreover, the high percentage of fiberised locations redu­ce capacity constraints and provide the ability to upgrade for catering to future capacity requirements.

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