RagingWire’s James Leach on the Globalization of the Data Center Industry
by Josh Anderson
RENO, NV – James Leach is the Vice President for Marketing at RagingWire Data Centers, an NTT Communications company. CapRate connected with him recently to get his take on the future of the global data center industry including strategy, sales and marketing, and engineering and operations, as well as how his firm is uniquely positioned in the global data center market of today and tomorrow.
CapRate: So tell me about RagingWire. I’d love to hear the lay of the land and what you’ve been up to recently.
Leach: RagingWire was one of the early companies that helped to shape the data center colocation industry as we know it today. We were founded in the year 2000 and have a long track record of delivering mission critical data centers. Today we have three mega data center campuses. One is in Sacramento, California, and that location is interesting because it is within driving distance for our Bay Area and Silicon Valley clients, but it is also outside of the earthquake zone, so it’s much safer from a risk perspective. Our Sacramento data center campus is also forty percent cheaper in terms of power, and power is the number one operational cost factor in data center colocation solutions. We have another big campus in Ashburn, Virginia, the number one data center market in the world. We will expand that campus significantly this year. And we just opened a new campus in Dallas, Texas in April. The total is 1.5 million square feet of space and 113 megawatts of power.
Then going global, we are the North American data center portfolio for NTT Communications and their Nexcenter data center services brand. NTT has purchased top data center companies in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and combined that with their own data center footprint to create what has been published as the third largest data center company in the world. The total data center footprint is 140 data centers in nineteen countries. It’s truly a global data center platform.
CapRate: It sounds like it. Any other brands in there I’d know?
Leach: RagingWire is the data center platform for NTT in North America. In Europe, there are two other companies, e-shelter and Gyron. In India, they have Netmagic. Japan is supported directly by NTT and the rest of Asia is covered by a combination of NTT and other affiliates. This collection of companies is an affiliation. We work with each other really closely. It is not just a marketing arrangement, it is strategic.
CapRate: Tell me more about what’s driving this global data center strategy.
Leach: Every application is inherently a global application. As soon as you put your application on the web somewhere, it becomes a global application. That’s whether you are a Fortune Ten firm or a startup. That fact means that from day one you need to think about and plan for how to deliver that application worldwide using computing. Today, the computing model is a mix of cloud services and your own servers that live in a data center. Most have a mix, depending on the nature of the application workloads. This hybrid model is the model of the day to support global applications, so how do you deliver that from a worldwide perspective? Well that is what we do – deliver global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions.
CapRate: And how does your company structure facilitate that?
Leach: NTT is the parent company and the rest of us are active participants in the global data center portfolio. We work together on data center designs, best practices for operations and global data center deployments. We also work together from a sales and marketing perspective, so that we can position ourselves effectively and provide integrated pricing and contracts. For example, if one of our U.S. customers is looking to deploy data centers in other parts of the world, we can connect them with an expert resource in that market and collaborate on a global solution. That’s a lot of value. They get a warm introduction to a company they can trust and that will work with them. It’s not just a cold call.
CapRate: I’d love to hear more about those perspectives. Can we start with the sales and marketing?
Leach: Sure. From a sales and marketing perspective, we are unified under the Nexcenter brand, which is a global brand. In marketing, we work closely together on establishing and driving awareness for that brand worldwide. We collaborate on brochures, websites, tradeshows, and advertising. Regarding sales, we work together on global deployments for our customers, and work together to make global contracting, capacity, and pricing as seamless and simple as possible.
CapRate: And how about engineering and operations?
Leach: Well, we are collaborating on data center designs and operational models. We share best practices. We leverage each other’s technology and standards. We are also developing new standards going forward as part of this global platform. That is a very active area for us right now. It brings a lot of benefit, because we are leveraging the best design and operational models found anywhere in the world. For example, RagingWire has two patents in power delivery, and a deep expertise in 100% availability. If there is any blip in the power utility, we have the infrastructure, automation, and procedures in place to make sure power never goes down for our customers. That solution, those patents, and those services are really valuable. We share them with other parts of NTT worldwide. In the same way, NTT has great experience building data centers that are seismically stable, and that is a value to the rest of our companies around the world.
CapRate: Okay, let’s return to strategy.
Leach: The RagingWire CEO works with CEOs of the other data center companies and organizations in NTT to develop and execute a global strategy that creates an integrated data center platform for information and communications technology solutions, also called ICT. Our role is to provide world-class data center colocation, both retail and wholesale, to support ICT solutions. In that way we can support hyperscale cloud providers as well as the needs of the enterprise for hybrid computing. We are focused on that. All of these data centers are a platform for ICT solutions. ICT is broader than traditional IT, which is just hardware and software, because it includes advanced network communications. This is a great fit for NTT given their track record of being one of the top telecommunications companies in the world.
CapRate: It’s interesting, all this talk about Global, and we’ve barely even mentioned any specific countries.
Leach: That’s right. Most of the media coverage about global data centers has been about individual countries. But we are talking about a global deployment for computers and applications. It’s a whole different thing. There are very few data center companies positioned to do that. There is Digital Realty, and there is Equinix, and there is NTT. Those are the three largest global data center companies. But if you look at those three, two of them, Digital Realty and Equinix, are real estate investment trusts, REITS. NTT is unique in that its focus is on information and communications technology (ICT) solutions, and that provides value from a customer perspective. If an enterprise CIO or hyperscale cloud company needs a technology solution, and it needs to be global, NTT specializes in just that. Our ICT focus influences how we look at the market and how we go to market. Real estate firms go to market as a collection of properties, because that’s their perspective and that’s what they do. We are part of an ICT company, so our view of the world is all about technology and solutions. Really, if you believe every app is a global app, NTT is what you need.