Chennai emerges a data centre hub with new projects worth ₹8,300 cr

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on July 30, 2020

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Chennai is set to become the nation’s second major data centre (DC) hub, after Mumbai. The city, which already hosts a number of smaller DCs, is now seeing investment commitments of of ₹8,300 crore by three large companies.

Under MoUs signed with the Tamil Nadu government recently, Yotta Infrastructure (of the Hiranandani group) will invest ₹4,000 crore; HDCI Data Centre Holdings will invest ₹2,800 crore, and Singapore-based ST Tele Media, ₹1,500 crore. “We expect many more data centre companies to follow suit,” said a senior government official.

Among the reasons for the the trend are the submarine cables landing in Chennai, and various State governments wanting to have data centres located in India, said sources. Chennai’s geographic proximity to key Asian cities also gives it an edge.

Additionally, the city has adequate real estate and power, which are critical for data centres. A proactive State government that encourages IT infrastructure adds to the advantages.

Undersea cable stations

Chennai has sound optic fibre network connectivity with three undersea cable landing stations. The combined capacity of these is about 14.8 terabytes per second. This, coupled with a high scale of network reliability, has led to the city’s emergence as a data centre hub, said a 2018 CBRE report .

With remote working the new norm and companies adopting cloud rapidly, there is an upsurge in data centre services. Further, lower data tariffs, smart TVs, emerging technologies, OTT consumption, personal data protection policy and various Digital India programmes are driving the demand, said Sunil Gupta, Managing Partner and CEO, Yotta Infrastructure.

Global connection

On selecting Chennai, Gupta said the fibre landing stations make it easy for data centres to get connected globally. Also, for data centres, it is critical to be present in regions where the demand is high. “As India gets bandwidth-hungry, we may see more companies investing in landing stations and even witness subsea cables terminating into data centres,” he said.

Chennai is India’s largest cable landing station after Mumbai. There are different submarine cables landing in the city from the Bay of Bengal Gateway — SeaMeWe-4, BRICS, Tata TGN-Tata Indicom and i2i Cable Network (i2icn).

Yotta’s data centre, to be built on a 13-acre campus at Hiranandani Parks on the Singaperumal Koil-Oragadam highway, will host four buildings with a capacity of 20,000 racks, said Gupta.

A spokesperson for Sify, which had set up a DC in Chennai in 2000, said the city is emerging not as a substitute but as an equal contender along with other traditional IT hotspots like Mumbai and Bengaluru. The city holds an advantage in that it is a coastal area and hence a cable landing station can be built.

A submarine cable landing station makes perfect sense to accommodate and service the undersea data traffic coming in from the Pacific side. A cable landing point is the location where a submarine (or undersea) data cable makes landfall. It is critical infrastructure and is used to terminate intercontinental cables. Network services then help carry the data further on or terminate it into a DC. So, a cable landing station is an extension of the network services that a service provider offers, said the spokesperson.

On the other hand, DC is a point at which data is stored. From an operational sense, a network will terminate into a DC at some point. But the primary function is storage of client data. Data is stored at a DC that has a network leading in and out of it for transfer. The technology of data storage is continuously evolving with data computing bringing in Big Data analytics, AI, Machine learning, the spokesperson said.

Published on July 30, 2020

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