The Stack Archive Feature

What we can learn from data centre projects in emerging markets

Mon 10 Sep 2018

Flexenclosure Transportation Flexenclosure cable landing station arriving in Palau

Availability, resilience, reliability, and redundancy are all key challenges for the modern-day data centre manager.

Requirements for operators to be ever more efficient and maintain high availability and physical redundancy has never been greater, meaning that many businesses have to continue hefty investment into facilities upgrades and new technologies.

Managing a data centre portfolio with all of these considerations in mind is no easy feat even for the most seasoned professional, yet these concerns are only amplified when that IT environment is located in one of the planet’s most extreme geographies.

What then can we, in the developed world, learn from the expertise and know-how of those designing, building and operating data centres in some of the harshest geographic locations and climatic conditions in the world?

Deploying in developing regions

In emerging markets across Asia, Africa and Latin America, commodities that are essential for life, let alone the basic operation of a data centre, such as water and electricity, are often in extremely short supply.

Latin America-bound data centre modules leaving Flexenclosure’s factory in Sweden

However, the staggering growth of mobile phone use in these markets has forced an ever-increasing requirement for modern data centres – ones that can deliver the same high levels of service as more developed countries.

With projects in these areas often falling victim of cost overruns and long delays, it is critical that these facilities are constructed with predictability front and centre, in terms of cost, time, energy efficiency and overall functionality.

Locations that are not only in harsh climates but also offer very little in the way of infrastructure support

For these reasons, many deployments in developing regions will take a highly prefabricated approach to ensure maximum build efficiency and project continuity.

Involving a single supplier can also be a considerable boon for making sure that that reliability and cost-efficiency is extended throughout the entire project, encompassing other elements beyond the data centre itself, such as the management of peripheral equipment, site works, and physical security.

As data centre managers in the developed world will testify, deploying a new facility requires detailed project planning. This is even more crucial in emerging markets. Required components, tools, and spares are extremely hard, if not impossible, to source locally. Carefully managing the project inventory is therefore essential in order to avoid potential delays.

Team members involved also need to be highly experienced, resilient and resourceful in order to successfully undertake projects in locations that are not only in harsh climates but also offer very little in the way of infrastructure support.

Reliability and resilience

One team with a proven track record in data centre projects in these tough emerging markets is Flexenclosure. With award-winning expertise in prefabricated data centres and intelligent power management systems, the company prides itself on adaptability – whatever the application, geography or climate.

The company was founded in 1989 and is based in Vara, Sweden, with headquarters in Stockholm and an impressive footprint of additional offices and staff in Canada, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, South Africa and the UAE.

Over its history, the company has successfully deployed its prefabricated eCentre data centres to customers in over 30 countries, often in varied and difficult environments, including Angola, Bolivia, Chad, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Norway, Paraguay the Philippines, Sweden, Tanzania and several Pacific island nations.

Xavier Rocoplan, EVP, Chief Technology & Information Officer, at international telco and media company, Millicom, has been a Flexenclosure customer for a number of years. Speaking of their partnership, he tells of how he has worked with the company on many recent projects, counting on its reliability and resilience in difficult circumstances.

Flexenclosure eCentre data centre in Paraguay

“Prefabricating and testing our data centre buildings at Flexenclosure’s manufacturing plant in Sweden gives us peace of mind that our facilities will be of the highest quality. It also means that onsite civil works can be performed in parallel and that the projects can be completed at a very fast pace,” says Rocoplan.

“Flexenclosure has significant experience working in challenging environments and we are impressed by their focus on understanding our business objectives and delivering exactly what we need. Additionally, the flexibility of Flexenclosure’s eCentre has been a major advantage as it allows us to size up the facilities from Day 1 and to rapidly expand as our business grows without disturbing our business operations,” he adds.

Three of the most recent Millicom/Flexenclosure projects are located in sites across Latin America – Asunción (Paraguay), Bogotá (Colombia) and Santa Cruz (Bolivia) – and they are among the first Uptime Institute Tier III data centres and the first modular hybrid data centres in the Latin American region.

So, while data centre projects may seem daunting to undertake wherever you are situated, for those operating in developed markets it would be wise to take heed. If companies can successfully deliver world-class facilities in some of the most challenging markets in the world, there’s no reason why the same level of detailed planning, execution and dedication to excellence can’t also be applied to deploying successful modern data centres everywhere.


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