With a successful data center ecosystem in the US, Switch expanded outside America in 2013, forming Supernap International in partnership with the ACDC Fund. Supernap Italia was born in 2014 and began constructing its Milan campus the next year. By the end of 2016, the data center was not only open, but had already sold more than half of its first sector.
A lot of people ask me, “Why Italy? Why Milan? Why Siziano?” For many, ours seems like an unusual location for such an advanced data center. Why not a city like London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, the more traditional data center hubs? I love this question because the answer has so many layers to it.
First, the basic commercial facts: Italy is the third-largest economy in the Euro Zone and eighth-largest in the world. Milan is the country’s economic core, home to more than 3,000 international businesses. The city has three major airports, public and private national and international rail services, an interconnected highway, and seven universities.
This is an international, industrialized nation, and most of that is based in the Lombardy region. In fact, the GDP (gross domestic product) for Lombardy alone was $440 billion in 2013—more than Austria, more than Denmark and nearly two times more than Ireland.
Second, Milan is home to MIX (Milan Internet Exchange), Italy’s largest internet exchange. The existing infrastructure at the Caldera campus where MIX is located, however, needs backup – there’s a need for a more diverse carrier ecosystem. That’s part of why we chose Siziano. Switch data centers in Las Vegas host more than 50 carriers in the Switch Connect ecosystem, and we’re working our way up to similar numbers in Milan. We’re connected to the MIX on two separate paths with more than 200 fiber couples, but we’re also welcoming carriers to install their points-of-presence inside our data center.
Third, we’ve all been hearing more and more about the trends in big data, Industry 4.0 and the growing Internet of Things. Our lives are ruled by connected devices; in fact, in a February 2017 press release, Gartner estimated that this year alone connected devices will increase by 31 percent from last year, and reach more than 20 billion by 2020. All of those connected “things” produce a lot of data. More data needs more space and more power. At full build out, our Milan campus will be up to 42,000 sq m with up to 40MW of power. That’s bigger and more powerful than the other facilities in the area by far. Furthermore, our cooling technologies enable us to deliver up to 40kW of power per rack, optimizing and further-increasing that ample space through high-density deployments.
Finally, Italy is at the crossroads of the submarine cables connecting Europe with India, Africa, the Middle East and Far East. In other words, the perfect position to connect the northern and southern hemispheres. Supernap Italia is a founding member of Open Hub Med, a neutral facility in Palermo, Sicily that connects southern submarine cables to the MIX in Milan, and beyond. The consortium members include data center operators and telecom carriers all sharing the same vision of universal interconnectedness via Italy. An initiative like Open Hub Med demonstrates that Italy is becoming a critical part of the global internet…why wouldn’t we want to be here?
I first heard about the project in 2015 and I was instantly intrigued. I knew Supernap International was something different, something I had to be a part of. I’m fortunate to have been hired as managing director of Supernap Italia later that year. I’ve been in this industry for nearly 25 years and I have never seen anything like Switch’s data centers. They’re like living, breathing works of art that speak for themselves. Tours are available at all campus locations – Milan, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Tahoe Reno and Grand Rapids - we encourage anyone with interest to get in touch and schedule a visit to see for themselves.
Luca Beltramino is managing director of Supernap Italia.