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The Mega Tech Centre

Digital technology brings with it many operational requirements and data centres is one of them. CtrlS promises to fulfil these tech needs

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Spread across few acres, CtrlS’s 132,000 sq. ft upcoming data centre in Bengaluru is one more feather in the company’s hat. With 10 MW capacity and 5,000 racks, the data centre will be the 5th unit in India. Sridhar Pinnapureddy, Founder and CEO, CtrlS, knows his game clearly well. He says research suggests that every rack space of 30 sq. ft in a data centre requires an investment of about $1 million and creates about 40 jobs. In contrast, in the IT industry, every 100 sq. ft. creates just one job. Growing number of digital startups and the fact that a majority of global firms are going digital or have parallel digital platforms, 43-year-old Pinnapureddy seems to have a competitive advantage.

But why are data centres crucial? It is because they are the nerve centre of any organisation. A data centre is a technical facility that centralises an organisation’s IT operations and equipment, and where it stores, manages, and disseminates its data. Essentially the data centres are vital to the continuity of daily operations. Thus, the security and reliability of data centres is a top priority for all organisations.

Scaling Up
Hyderabad-headquartered CtrlS claims to be Asia’s largest and India’s first tier-4 data centre. ‘Tier-4’ is the highest category with a guaranteed uptime of 99.995 per cent. Pinnapureddy says that the company is on an expansion mode. With an annual growth rate of 50 per cent, the company is on track to cross Rs 1,000 crore in turnover in the next 4-5 years from the current Rs 300 crore. “We are planning to invest $200 million over the next four years,” says Pinnapureddy. He is also expanding internationally with Cloud4C, an independently-run public cloud company. The idea is to expand to 40 countries by 2018.

Back home, CtrlS runs four data centres in India (three tier-4 data centres and one tier-3 data centre). The tier-4 data centres are located in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Noida, each one unique in its own way. The Hyderabad centre is India’s first tier-4 data centre while the one in Mumbai is Asia’s largest in its category. The company is planning yet another tier-4 data centre in Bengaluru, which is scheduled to be operational by October. The tier-3 data centre is located in Chennai through a JV with BSNL and it serves the government sector. CtrlS has received several rounds of funding from Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, an American hedge fund manager and global alternative asset management firm.

CtrlS operates in five categories — data centre or co-location business, private cloud business, managed services business, disaster recovery business, and security business and competes with companies such as IBM, Wipro, Netmagic among others. However, CtrlS believes it is different from its competitors. “We differentiate on two core parameters. One is on being a tier-4 certified company with the highest SLA levels in the industry; the other is on energy consumption, which is 20 per cent lesser than our nearest competitor,” says Pinnapureddy.

The company, which was founded in 2008, serves over 3,500 enterprises including 12 global Fortune 100 companies. Roughly, 30 per cent of their business comes from MNCs while the majority is domestic. “The disaster recovery solution provided by CtrlS not only enabled our ability to withstand disasters but also help save our costs by 60 per cent and above,” says Swapnil Shirwadkar, Head of Datacenter Ops and IT Projects, IndiaFirst Life Insurance. CtrlS also scores well on ethical grounds. “The levels of commitment, transparency and solution building ability displayed by CtrlS are indeed very unique and rare to witness in the industry,” says Neeraj Vetkar, former IT Infrastructure head at TATA AIG General Insurance.

Seeking Support

Pinnapureddy stresses on the need to create special policies for the data centre industry if India were to find its place in the digital map, globally. “Special incentives and policies are necessary for the industry to thrive and realise its full potential,” he says.

Currently valued at $2.2 billion, India’s data centre infrastructure market is expected to touch $4.5 billion by 2018. India is poised to be the second-largest market for data centres after Singapore in Asia-Pacific by 2020 and the investments are expected to reach $7 billion, as per the Internet and Mobile Association of India report. “India faces stiff competition from Singapore because of its more mature ecosystem and friendly policies,” says Pinnapureddy.

“India needs at least 5-6 more cable landing systems. There is still scope for more improvement in the power situation. Also, the bottlenecks to apply for dual power sources should be removed,” he says.

Given that the data centre market is still in its nascent stage in India, timely support from the government will help this backbone of digital media dependant firms.