CAPRE NorCal Data Center Summit Preview: Q&A with Paul Hopkins, COLT Data Centre Services

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Paul Hopkins is currently Vice President of Sales, U.S. at Colt Data Centre Services (DCS.) With 29 state-of-the-art carrier neutral data centers across Europe and Asia, connectivity to over 530 data centers across the globe and the largest cloud footprint in Europe. Colt is one of the world’s most connected data centers. Paul has been a sales and marketing leader in the data center and cloud services industry for over 18 years. His career began at Netcom, one of the first ISP’s and the first Internet company to IPO (1994). He then became an early member of the sales team at Exodus Communications, a pioneer in the data center industry, that grew revenues from $50-$800Millon+ in 4 years. In the last 8 years, Paul has built and led several world-class sales teams at leading data center and managed services providers, Savvis, IPSoft and Telx.

CapRE: Thanks for chatting with us today Paul. Please share with us a bit about your career and how you came to be part of the COLT Data Centers team.

New SquareHopkins: I got into the hyper scale data center business back in the early days. I started with Dupont Fabros(DFT) in 2010, one of the pioneers in the business, which has since been acquired by Digital Realty. I led the sales efforts in Silicon Valley where they built and operate one of the largest data centers in the region and also helped them to grow their Ashburn campus as well as Chicago. My customers were a handful of the largest data center consumers in the world.

Nearly two years ago, I was presented with an opportunity to lead the hyperscale sales team for Colt Data Centre Services(DCS), a newly formed spin-off of the Colt network business.

I have a small team of data center and network specialists and we’re focused on working with the same U.S.-based  clients who are looking to deploy Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and Private Cloud solutions, throughout Europe and primarily Tokyo.

CapRE: So how was 2018 for COLT?

Hopkins: Things are going well and my team and I have had tremendous success in a short period of time.  We’ve brought Colt several massive hyper scale new logos and created a lot of awareness for Colt DCS which wasn’t well-known in the U.S. for having a data center business.  Sort of like what I did for DFT on the west coast but on a larger scale.  It’s been fun two years and I’ve done a lot of International travel to Tokyo, Madrid, London, and Paris.  We’re having our Sales Kickoff next month in Barcelona.

CapRE: And what’s driving all of this activity and expansion?

Hopkins: It’s the same thing that’s happening everywhere. I would say that in the past (since I’m focused on US and West coast clients) a lot of the American companies would serve up from less expensive markets like Ashburn VA or somewhere on the West coast like Portland, to Asia. That was the common case. But now, you hear about the Edge, where companies increasingly have to have their content closer to their end-users and so they’re extending their clouds throughout Europe and Asia. There’s just been a tremendous uptick in growth.

Increasingly, cloud companies are comfortable expanding overseas and they have many more options. Colt’s well-positioned and taking advantage of that trend. I would also say that some of the big applications that are driving things, like autonomous vehicles or AI, are a big emerging trend. Plus new consumer and social networks like of course Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, but Apple too. Business to business, companies’ requirements are getting larger and larger overseas. We’re now seeing opportunities in the 15-20-megawatt range which were pretty much unheard of in the past. The overall growth of the internet just continues to explode.

Paul Hopkins, Senior Vice-President for the U.S., COLT Data Centre Services

CapRE: Any trend you want to highlight from the international sphere?

Hopkins: Overseas, outside of the largest companies, the vast majority of clients, still are leasing significant amounts of capacity in addition to building around data centers as well. So there’s definitely a trend there for leasing, basically mirroring what you’ve seen over the last 5 years in the U.S.

CapRE: So what are your thoughts on the NorCal market? We’re looking forward to seeing you in San Francisco in February. What makes it unique and what makes it tick?

Hopkins: Today, I’m focused on data centers internationally, but I live in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley. I’ve been here my entire 20+ year career, primarily in the data center business since its conception in the mid to late 90s. I’ve been involved and seen the evolution of it and have experienced and helped to drive that growth. Silicon Valley continues to be a tremendous data center market. It’s expensive, but companies like Amazon, MSFT, Apple, Uber and many others need to have their clouds here,  and it is expensive – there are no tax breaks and the power is nearly 2x what you’ll pay in Ashburn, Dallas or Chicago.

And there are very limited opportunities to expand a data center of any significance. It’s keeping prices higher. But if you’re going to grow, you have to deploy here. For many, it’s just a requirement. If they didn’t have to deploy here, they certainly wouldn’t. They’d look at Hillsboro, which is steadily growing. Las Vegas, Phoenix, etc. have a lot of opportunities. But you’re still seeing companies like RagingWire, CyrusOne and other major players expanding here. They need to be here and they want to be here.

CapRE: Where else might they go? What other options do these developers weigh?

Hopkins: It’ll be interesting to see where things will expand in the next few years, there are just so few options for expansion. Some want to expand to San Jose, but then you have to contend with PG&E. But you’re starting to see companies move in there and the CRE market is starting to explode there, with companies like google taking down massive amounts of space. San Francisco is pretty much tapped out and people don’t really want their data centers in San Francisco. There are obvious seismic issues and it’s expensive.

CapRE: Are there any storm clouds on the horizon you’re tracking?

Hopkins: Absolutely. We’ve had a tremendous run with the economy. Over the last few years it has just been unprecedented growth. However, you’re starting to see the signs that there could definitely be a recession or a slow-down. The stock market is definitely taking a significant hit in these last few months. So will that slow growth? It remains to be seen.  For the tech companies that we’re working with, they’re less vulnerable to those issues than a lot of other companies and industries around the U.S.

The Googles, the Facebooks, etc these guys have huge amounts of cash on hand and their businesses are doing quite well, but if there’s a global recession, obviously that could have an impact on them and it could trickle down to the data center business, absolutely. There are a lot of other issues we could talk about – climate change, for example. Clean energy. There are many concerns, but economic concerns are definitely number one looking to the immediate future.

CapRE: Understood. Thanks for your time, Paul. We’ll see you at CapRE’s 2019 Northern California Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure Summit!