Built to Suit is not an aspiration or a theoretical approach.
Hyperscalers are rapidly adjusting to the new levels of digitalisation driven by the COVID crisis. For many this means an acceleration in planning, building provisioning and deploying data centers around the world close to consumer and business users. Finding the right partners to deliver facilities that meet their exacting demands, in short timeframes, is a challenge. In response, colocation providers and data center operators are touting Built to Suit services hoping to capitalise on this need with the promise of fast, customised builds. But it is really nothing new? Would you rather trust a supplier evolving this approach, or one that has perfected it over several years of successful implementations?
A colocation facility is a way to access a new market quickly. It will offer a degree of customisability and for many businesses it is a perfect solution. But a rapidly growing hyperscaler might find the compromises it entails too much. The needs of all tenants must be respected and utilities including power and cooling, plus resilience and redundancy are managed at a data hall or whole-building level. The physical environment, the shell, is also a set parameter that is difficult to adapt unilaterally for one client. By their nature, colocation facilities often end up over-spec’d for the needs of any one tenant and the needs of a handful of smaller tenants could restrict the opportunity for the hyperscaler.
The promise of Built to Suit is to combine the speed to market of colocation with the customisation of building your own data center. What it means in reality varies between vendors, and some are less flexible than they seem. At the heart is the promise to create an environment that exactly matches the hyperscaler’s requirements. It should provide a dedicated, bespoke environment perfect for their needs today, and with the ability to easily extend and grow.
DigiPlex’s Built to Suit approach, honed over the last five years, gives our hyperscale customers the ability to exactly define all parameters of their data center, from physical security to ceiling heights, cooling and power demands to size and number of office and communal areas. Our hyperscale clients have their own, commercially sensitive designs for customized equipment and racking which they want to install in specific ways. The DigiPlex Built to Suit service not only accommodates these requirements but builds them into standardized process for easy repeatability.
Crucially, for DigiPlex Built to Suit is not an aspiration or a theoretical approach. It is tried, tested and proven. We’ve already delivered built to suit projects including the custom reconfiguration of the hyperscale data center at our Fetsund site. We are creating new-build versions for hyperscale clients at our Hobøl and Fetsund expansions.
Knowing that there is a tried and trusted process, a way of reusing customised designs provides customers with confidence that additional capacity, or even entire new facilities, can be added quickly and seamlessly and without need to reengage in time-consuming design and contracting processes. Today DigiPlex is seeing many contracts which include clauses to extend initial capacity once markets have been proved. A client may commit to 5MW now with options to add 5, 10, 20MW more in the future. The repeatable customized standard makes this easy to do.
The shift to the cloud has led to hyperscalers becoming the biggest customers of data center space globally. Many suppliers are trying to attract their attention and meet their requirements of rapid time to market plus high levels of customisation. At DigiPlex, we have always regarded listening to customers and co-creating solutions that meet their requirements as a fundamental aspect of the way we do business. Built to Suit is nothing new for us – it is a tried and trusted approach to doing great work and delivering for our customers.
Artilce written by VP of International & Hyperscale Sales, Tim Bawtree.
Read more articles by Tim