Ankit Saraiya is the Director at Techno Electric and Engineering Company Limited.(TEECL) and oversees the Data Center Business at TEECL. His main focus is to develop an ultra-scalable, high- density Data center across various locations in India, including the current Project in Chennai. Mr. Saraiya holds a bachelor’s degree in Science (Corporate Finance and Accounting) with a minor in Computer Information Systems (CIS) from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, US. He has sound financial and commercial knowledge, along with an experience of over nine years in the related field.
It’s already been over a decade since the start of industry 4.0, with the implementation of the industrial revolution focusing on inter-connectivity, machine learning and real-time data analytics. During this decade, we witnessed constant innovation, smart manufacturing and a rise in the number of digital tools and software that can be acquired at decreasing costs. However, from a macro perspective, the focus has already shifted from standardized manufacturing, product life cycle extensions to more personalized and custom-fitted solutions. This is where the era of’ specialists’ and ‘outsourcing’ got amplified for all the right reasons.
The Data Center industry too went through a radical transformation in the past decade. Some of the key highlights of the past decade in the Data Center space were:
- The emergence of the Hyperscale Data Center, Edge-Data Center and Hyper-density Data Center
- The involvement of software fabrics to improve monitoring & operations in real-time
- New Data Center technology being adopted first by the Cloud Service Providers
- The constant movement of expansion in high volumes by Data Center companies
- Geographically, the Data Center markets of India, Africa and South America have been under-exploited and hold high potential in terms of expansion
- Finally, new forms of external finance are being used to expand Data Center growth by Private Equity Investors, Real-estate companies and entrepreneurs
Data Center as an Infrastructure platform consumes a lot of energy, therefore, requiring them to be environmentally and socially responsible. Additionally, they require huge capital and needs to be government policy compliant. The entire circle starts with the tedious task of land acquisition, as Data Centers need to be aptly located since they are required to be closer to their ultimate customers, with well-developed infrastructure supporting the development and operations while the land acquisition remaining economical. Adding to the long list is the fact that the Data Center requires high-grade levels of electro-mechanical systems that are concurrently maintainable with distributed redundant architecture, energy and water-efficient while using sustainable building materials. This is where a developer with specialized EPC capabilities in providing such elaborate electro-mechanical systems bridges the void to meet all the requirements and hand over the finished DC to the specialists.
Today, companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other large hyper-scale companies demand Ultra-scalable, Hyper-scale, Edge and Hyper-density, Green Data Centers. Building a hyper-scale model of Data Center involves an ideal location especially in regards to the availability of fibre, right mix and cost of finance, and control over CAPEX while ensuring lower OPEX post-construction to be able to create a more agile infrastructure. While stitching together these parameters, one needs to consider the most important factor i.e. Power. Power constitutes almost 40% of total expenses to operate a Data Center. To be able to render a successful Data Center project, power management plays a critical role in the mix. With the emergence of ESG, carbon-neutral quotient and Green Data Center, EPC companies also need to factor in the role of renewable energy, battery energy storage systems in fueling their Data Center projects. EPC companies need to aim higher by providing solutions that pave the way for carbon-zero Data Centers in the future.
EPC companies have realized the fact that Data Centers as an industry is ever-evolving, needs a constant- influx of capital to keep up with the disruption and technological innovations and is extremely demanding since they are tightly scheduled with the highest level of quality assurance. This has led to the inception of ‘Turnkey Data Center’ Projects. Turnkey projects before 2010- 2011 were mainly focused on the civil infrastructure, public and government- infrastructure space. But with the turn of the decade, turnkey companies have shown huge focus in the IT infrastructure projects including Data Centers, regardless of size, complexity and scope. Turnkey Data Centers also mitigate some severe issues while setting up the Data Center such as schedule and quality.
When one contractor is involved in the entire project, this translates to a single organization to deal with, a single point of contact and less time in getting requisite approvals from different suppliers/ contractors not only in terms of design, engineering and execution but also on land acquisition, developmental risk and all the related statutory approvals required for a project life cycle.
Global IT companies expect this kind of offering as they like to deal with the least number of people and get all the processes expedited to realize their end goal. In addition to this, they also require state-of-the-art infrastructure with the least amount of risk and volatility involved. A turnkey project checks all the right boxes for them including a future-ready outlook in terms of technology and innovation.
Hence the EPC organizations should step up and take the responsibilities from end-to-end delivery of a project including developmental risk.
With the recent announcement by large IT companies to foray into the India Data Center space and the government’s consideration of the Data Center as a priority industry, the most efficient way for everyone including the economy, the IT companies, the government is to outsource the construction and upkeep of the data Centers to EPC consultants and let them pave the way for a more Digital-first economy.