Presenting the concept of a Data Center Park, Khaled Sedrak, CEO of NxtVn, explained in an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, the difference between this concept and ordinary data centers, as well as NxtVn's role as an enabler and accelerator. In addition, he insisted on the ICTs' importance and their clear impact on all of the sectors. He also talked about the memorandum of understanding signed with ITIDA in Egypt that will allow NxtVn to establish a Data Center Park there.
Can you explain to us NxtVn's concept of a Data Center Park? How does it differ from ordinary data centers?
NxtVn's Data Center Park is a campus hosting several data centers. The concept is known by "Master Real Estate Developer" that establishes the infrastructure not the building. In fact, instead of buying different lands in different places and undergo a long process to receive all of the constructions permits to build each data center, NxtVn buys a large land where it can build many data centers, seeks one construction permit and then shares it all with data center developers.
NxtVn's Data Center Parks help those who are unable to build their own data center and accelerates the process for those who can. They also reduce costs.
Thus, the difference is that NxtVn doesn't build data centers but deploys the digital infrastructure for data center actors. The Data Center Park is a large campus allowing many data centers to coexist.
How is data transferred to the Data Center Parks?
Fiber is on top of our priorities. When we start to build the Data Center Parks, first and foremost, we deploy fiber. We make sure that the data centers are completely equipped and ready to be operational. We assure that all of the facilities are offered, notably energy from different sources and fiber provided by several operators.
What are the criteria that NxtVn takes into account when it decides to establish a Data Center Park? Will you establish such campus soon in North Africa?
First of all, we look for the collateral edge and the presence of international connectivity. Those two elements are crucial because we seek an adequate geographical location and connectivity.
In North Africa, we have to overcome two main challenges. The first one is having electricity that differs from one region to another and the second is fiber. Currently, the only country that has international connectivity is Egypt.
Therefore, in addition to Egypt that is geographically located in an adequate place and has electricity and connectivity, we see great potential in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya. We are more specifically interested in Tunisia, and in 2018, we will reach a new milestone there and establish a Data Center Park. Currently, we are also exploring potential opportunities in Algeria and Morocco.
In light of the cyberattacks targeting the whole world, how does NxtVn assure data protection in its Data Center Parks?
Data has become more important than oil and gold. NxtVn's role is limited to guaranteeing the infrastructure, electricity, fiber, land and permits. Therefore, those who manage the data centers have to guarantee data protection and reinforce cybersecurity. NxtVn offers services at the level of infrastructure not data.
We are interested in the physical security not cybersecurity. We protect the whole campus as a first step, and then assure the physical security of every data center that, in turn, has to assure the security of its data.
However, even though we are responsible of data security, we have launched, last year, an international initiative calling to consider data and digital infrastructure as critical infrastructure. We have urged States as well to protect them.
While the whole world is deploying efforts to reinforce cybersecurity, NxtVn finds it very important to promote physical security that is relatively neglected.
In your opinion, what is the difference between digital hubs and traditional telecommunications hubs?
Currently, with the emergence of the digital era, all the fields are going through major transformation. ICTs are no longer a simple industry, but an integral component of any other industry. We notice the presence of ICTs in pharmaceutical fields, education, finance, etc. In this context, combining the concepts of digitalisation and cloud computing created an enormous wave paving the way to new trends. We can notice it at the level of the ever weakening relationship between enterprises and their servers and physical components due to virtualisation and the cloud.
What are trends that are fuelling this wave?
The most important trends fuelling this wave are cloud computing and the digital trend. We can add also the Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual and augmented realities. All of those trends are coming together to form the perfect storm that will contribute to the industry's growth and will promote companies prosperity.
This storm will increase demand on mobile services, connectivity and data centers because, after all, digitalisation takes place in data centers.
However, all of those trends will put pressure on the business models that we are adopting and on the deployment of infrastructure because they require putting in place fiber cables and enormous data centers. That is why, NxtVn is ringing the alarm to examine all of the adopted business models and to find new innovative ones to deploy the infrastructure and know how to technically and commercially build data centers.
What are the challenges that have to be overcome to be able to follow these trends?
First of all, we have to examine the business models from a commercial angle to know whether we have to continue to sell capacity and space in the data centers. Technical skills are also a challenge that has to be overcome to create data centers and deploy fiber. The third challenge resides at the level of the capacity to allocate sufficient capital and invest in data centers. In addition, regulations pose a a fourth challenge because they have to accept these new models and create the legislative environment and elaborate policies that go hand in hand with this transformation. The final challenge is the fact that nothing is local or regional anymore, everything has become global.
NxtVn signed a memorandum of understanding with the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) in Egypt. Can you give us more details?
NxtVn and ITIDA have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a Data Center Park at Silicon Waha, the agency's technological center in North Egypt. We are very pleased that we have signed the MoU with Asmaa Hosni, CEO of ITIDA in Egypt, which has opened up new doors for us to enter the African market. Thanks to the MoU, we were able to enter the Egyptian market and gain the support of H.E. Yasser El Kady, Minister of Information and Communication Technologies of Egypt, who participated personally to the signature ceremony.
In this context, I would like to announce that this MoU has paved the way to a land acquisition agreement which will be signed soon and that will allow us to build our new Data Center Park in Alexandria. This step proves that the memorandum wasn't a simple agreement but has led to a strategic cooperation with ITIDA.
In additions, discussions with ITIDA are underway to establish a regional data center that will be called "The Regional Center of Excellence". It will cover North Africa and all of the African market and will focus on trainings provided at two levels: submarine cables and data center technologies.
We are still examining all of the opportunities that will be offered by the regional center, however, we are very optimistic because, thanks to ITIDA it will be operational during the first quarter of 2018. We will focus at first on the high level training at these two levels, then, we will expand our training programs to cover other types, because it is very crucial to reinforce peoples' capacities when it comes to submarine cables and data center technologies.