Nxtra by Airtel Looks at 2022 as Build Year to Add Data Centre Capacity: Rajesh Tapadia

Data Centres are big energy guzzlers and in line with Airtel’s ESG agenda green energy is a priority at Nxtra by Airtel. We have implemented various initiatives across our operations to minimise environmental impact, says Rajesh Tapadia, Director and CEO, Nxtra by Airtel.

Highlights

  • The Indian data centre market is set to double from approximately 450 MW capacity at present to 1074 MW by 2023.
  • Nxtra by Airtel has built the largest data centre network in India and we are now doubling down on this business to scale up our network that will be at the core of 5G and Digital India.
  • India is a very large market and emerging as a potential USD 1 trillion digital economy in the next few years thanks to the Government’s Digital India vision.

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2022 is going to be the ‘year of build’ for us as we continue to accelerate our capacity augmentations with data centre capacity expansion across Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, NCR & Kolkata. We will also add new capacities in our edge sites to enable 5G, edge, and security services - Rajesh Tapadia, Director and CEO, Nxtra by Airtel, told TelecomTalk.

Q1 - What Are the Predictions for the Data Centre Market in India?

The Indian data centre market is set to double from approximately 450 MW capacity at present to 1074 MW by 2023. A fast-growing digital economy is seeing enterprises move to cloud-based applications resulting in demand for data centres. 5G, Industry 4.0 and Local data storage requirements will further accelerate this growth trend. This is already playing out with large investments being announced by global hyper scalers and homegrown players like Nxtra by Airtel.

Given India’s strategic location, availability of submarine cable landing infrastructure, land supply, and skilled manpower, the country has the potential to become a regional data centre hub.

Overall, we are very bullish on the outlook for the industry.

Q2 - How Is Nxtra by Airtel Helping Enterprises With Their Digital Journey?

Nxtra by Airtel offers the largest network of data centres with 11 large and 120 edge data centres across the country. This provides our customers with a reach and scalable infrastructure that is unmatched. Coupled with Airtel’s world-class domestic and global network infrastructure, we enable our customers (global OTTs, Cloud, Large Global and Indian enterprises, Government and SMEs) to get closer to their audiences for seamless connectivity. Our facilities are fully equipped to provide digitised and borderless IT infrastructure to meet the evolving demands of customers during their digital transformation journey.

Q3 - Nxtra by Airtel Is Saying That It Will Invest Over Rs 5,000 Crore for Building New Hyperscale and Edge Data Centres in Metro Cities, How Will It Help India in Achieving Its Digital Goals?

Nxtra by Airtel has built the largest data centre network in India, and we are now doubling down on this business to scale up our network that will be at the core of 5G and Digital India. Our experience of operating secure data centres, deep brand trust in the enterprise segment and the ability to deliver end-to-end digital transformation solutions positions us well to serve the emerging requirements of India’s connected economy.

Q4 - What Are the Growth Plans of Nxtra by Airtel for the Next 12 Months?

2022 is going to be the ‘year of build’ for us as we continue to accelerate our capacity augmentations with data centre capacity expansion across Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, NCR & Kolkata.  We will also add new capacities in our edge sites to enable 5G, edge, and security services. Also, Oracle will enhance its West India (Mumbai) area cloud capacity with Nxtra by Airtel in 2022, which is a huge endorsement of our association with hyper scalers.

Sustainability will continue to be a big focus given the huge energy requirements of data centres. We are aggressively scaling up the use of green energy in our data centres and aim to reach 50% of the power requirements of these centres through renewable sources in the next 12 months. We have already commissioned three captive solar power units across Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra with an installed capacity of 49 MW.

Q5 - There Are Rival Companies Coming Into the Data Centre Business; What Does Nxtra by Airtel Has That Will Help It Keep the Edge Over Them?

Firstly, India is a very large market and emerging as a potential USD 1 trillion digital economy in the next few years thanks to the Government’s Digital India vision. Nxtra by Airtel brings its unmatched network reach with a combination of large and edge data centres. In fact, our edge network is what gives us the market edge as we scale up our large data centres.

Q6 - Nxtra by Airtel Had Recently Announced a Partnership With Oracle, Can You Throw Some Light on It?

Oracle will expand its India West (Mumbai) region capacity with Nxtra by Airtel to support the increasing demand for cloud services in India. The expanded Oracle Cloud Mumbai Region will be available in 2022.

The partnership aims to support the growth of India’s digital economy by bringing a range of industry-leading cloud solutions to more than 1 million enterprise customers. It will also set up a Cloud Centre of Excellence in Gurgaon with a dedicated team of specialists from both organisations.

Q7 - What Are the Challenges in the Data Centre Business and What Is Airtel Doing to Address Them?

Land acquisition and related permissions are big challenges as it impacts the speed of execution. What the industry requires is sound infrastructure support an enabling policy like a single-window clearance mechanism to get more investments.

Overall, the Central and State Governments are now very supportive of their policies, and we continue to engage with them. To say the least, the investment climate has improved a lot.

Q8 - Is Nxtra by Airtel Actively Looking to Invest in Green Power Companies?

Data Centres are big energy guzzlers, and in line with Airtel’s ESG agenda, green energy is a priority at Nxtra by Airtel. We have implemented various initiatives across our operations to minimise environmental impact. We are reducing the use of energy from fossil fuels in our data centres and increasingly adopting green energy.

In addition, we are actively collaborating with multiple green power companies across India as we further step up our efforts towards fulfilling our commitment to source 50% power requirements for our data centres through renewable energy sources in the next 12 months. We have already invested in more than six companies to develop renewable power plants across various states in India to source more than 170,000 MWh of green energy.

Q9 - What Has Nxtra by Airtel Already Done to Act as a Responsible Corporate by Increasing Green Power Consumption?

We are implementing several strategies to improve our energy usage patterns and increase the share of renewable energy in the mix to enhance efficiencies. In fact, in the past five years, we have reduced carbon emission by 49% per rack in our data centres. We are also focused on achieving 50% of power through renewable energy sources as part of Airtel’s overall GHG emission reduction targets.

Nxtra by Airtel is committed to fostering the growth of data centres powered by green energy. Thus, we plan to realise the same through multiple practices like - accelerated green energy adoption, energy-efficient infrastructure, as well as implementing sustainable business practices at its workplaces.

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