Building a Competitive Hyperscale Advantage

In an exclusive interview with InterGlobix Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Bedi, Yotta Infrastructure’s Co-founder and CEO Sunil Gupta, also known as ‘India’s Data Center Man’, discusses the genesis and strategy behind the data center company part of the Hiranandani Group, one of India’s largest real estate groups. Throughout his career spanning almost three decades, Gupta has built and operated more than 20 third party data centers in India.

One-on-one with Yotta Infrastructure’s Co-founder and CEO Sunil Gupta

Published in Issue 6 | April 2021

Can you share the idea behind Yotta Infrastructure?

A couple of years ago, when I exited one of the very large data center organisations, the concept I had in my mind was how can data centers play a pivotal role in Digital India. While our country was witnessing digital growth all around, I could sense the increasing demand-supply gap in the data industry. Till about a year ago, there were just siloed buildings and not data center parks.

For my vision to take a realistic shape, it was adequately clear in my mind that we need to align with an organisation that has the backing of real estate expertise, self-power generation, and is combined with data center expertise. Because Hiranandani Group, India’s largest real estate developer, used to construct buildings for existing data center players in the country, led me to a conversation with them. Hence, my dream of creating hyperscale data center parks led me to align with the Hiranandani Group, and this is how we formed this organization called Yotta Infrastructure.

The name Yotta itself, which is the highest byte size, signifies the sheer scale of our operations. To address the burgeoning market requirements, we set up the country’s first hyperscale data center park at Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra. Now, every other data center operator is following us and striving to construct data center parks. Most importantly, the Uptime Institute Tier IV certification that we have achieved for quality infrastructure has set a benchmark for India’s data center industry. I can proudly state that Yotta NM1 is at par with any global data center facility, and customers’ responses and feedback is a testimony to it.

India is the fastest growing data center market in the Asia Pac region. What are the macro trends driving this growth?

A year ago, the data boom, cloud usage and the government’s “Digital India” program were the driving factors making India the global hub for data centers. With the pandemic hitting globally, the dependency on online activities increased multi-fold and we have been witnessing an upward trend in data traffic as businesses move majorly to the cloud. The remote workforce is a reality that has increased online content consumption. This leads to a growth in data centers that results in growth for big data analytics and emerging technologies, like IoT and AI.

Amidst the height of the lockdown, businesses could not access their captive data centers, but third-party data centers were functioning since deemed “essential services.” This influenced enterprises to move to multi-tenant data centers (MTDCs), which is also more economical and accessible. Additionally, the Indian government’s proposed data protection bill is key in driving growth.

Given existing operators, as well as large international players entering in the market, what are Yotta’s competitive advantages?

Building and operating data centers is capital intensive. They require an abundance of land, power and network connectivity. As a Hiranandani Group company, Yotta has access to land parcels across India, premier construction capabilities, domain expertise, power generation and distribution infrastructure. We’re empowered to get data centers up and running in record time. Our first building NM1 at our Navi Mumbai data center parks became fully operational within 11 months. Coming next will be data center parks in Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai city and Pune. Construction work is underway for Phase II of Navi Mumbai, our first data center building at the Chennai and Delhi-NCR parks.

We have our DevCo (Developer Company) and PowerCo (Power Company) capabilities embedded, due to the Hiranandani Group. However, what Yotta truly offers is the combined capabilities of a DevCo, PowerCo and OpCo (Operating Company), with an unmatched capability in terms of OpCo. Out of 29 years of my professional experience, about 22 of those were spent in the data center domain. During that time, I built 19 data centers. Out of 19, about the last five have been Hyperscale.

An experienced design and engineering team supports me when setting up hyperscale data centers. The same team that had Yotta NM1 operational so quickly, while also working on Chennai, Delhi-NCR and other projects. A dedicated Projects Management team handles expansions. We now have standardized design-engineering templates and practices for constructing large hyperscale data centers. These helps roll out new ones in max 15 months from start.

At Yotta, we took on the challenge of building the most demanding facility with an eye on high quality–the construction of an Uptime Tier IV certified data center, ours received the TCDD (Tier Certification of Design Documents). When we took up the challenge, to meet the stringent fault requirement of Tier IV certification, we ended up making many changes to our standardized design. Uptime Tier IV demands that there’s no single point of failure anywhere in the building and that full capacity of power and cooling operates continuously. Designing, engineering and executing such a facility led us to get components, like bus ducts and cables, custom manufactured from our partners. We then were able to create a fully automated layer of monitoring and management for a complete cooling distribution and fuel management system. We received TCDD certification about six months back. And we also are expecting TCCF (Tier Certification for Constructed Facilities) certification soon, awarded as a performance-based evaluation of a fault tolerant infrastructure. This will further demonstrate our reliability and ability to ensure a risk-free data center facility. Additionally, we implemented some of the most advanced automation systems in our facilities, right from our BMS, which is fully redundant and monitors a million parameters of the entire building in the real-time, AI-enabled surveillance system, with an end-to-end automated RFID system for tracking every material entering or exiting. We then added a touch-less key management system. This lets customers securely operate the keys of their racks and monitor and track usage of their rack keys in real-time and remotely.

At Yotta, we took on the challenge of building the most demanding facility with an eye on high quality–the construction of an Uptime Tier IV certified data center, ours received the TCDD (Tier Certification of Design Documents). When we took up the challenge, to meet the stringent fault requirement of Tier IV certification, we ended up making many changes to our standardized design. Uptime Tier IV demands that there’s no single point of failure anywhere in the building and that full capacity of power and cooling operates continuously.

Designing, engineering and executing such a facility led us to get components, like bus ducts and cables, custom manufactured from our partners. We then were able to create a fully automated layer of monitoring and management for a complete cooling distribution and fuel management system.

We received TCDD certification about six months back. And we also are expecting TCCF (Tier Certification for Constructed Facilities) certification soon, awarded as a performance-based evaluation of a fault tolerant infrastructure. This will further demonstrate our reliability and ability to ensure a risk-free data center facility.

Additionally, we implemented some of the most advanced automation systems in our facilities, right from our BMS, which is fully redundant and monitors a million parameters of the entire building in the real-time, AI-enabled surveillance system, with an end-to-end automated RFID system for tracking every material entering or exiting. We then added a touch-less key management system. This lets customers securely operate the keys of their racks and monitor and track usage of their rack keys in real-time and remotely.