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June 7, 2015updated 22 Sep 2016 11:51am

Interxion Q&A: Data centre as a new business opportunity

UK MD Adriaan Oosthoek discusses cloud adoption, carrier neutrality and Marseille’s expansion.

By Joao Lima

Colo company Interxion "started with people wanting to do business with each other", said UK MD Adriaan Oosthoek.

CBR sat down with Oosthoek to talk about Interxion of today and how the data centre provider is preparing for the future.

CBR: How did Interxion start in the UK?

AO: Our industry actually started out from Telecoms D Regulation in the 90s, where alternative telecom operators wanted to locate their voice switches next to networks, next to BT. We were called Carrier Hotels: carriers that could connect to each other.

Then the internet happened and when you look at our business now, less than 1% of what happens in our data centre is still about voice, the rest is all about data. This is because they are the same carriers, they want to connect to each other with voice. They also want to interconnect with each other for data to transport "internet data". That is how these internet hubs started to be built, and data centres really are at the core of the development of the internet across the western world.

CBR: What is the importance of latency?

AO: Twenty years ago, it was all about the carriers interconnecting with each other, and they still do in our sites, but there are many more applications that need this interconnection in data centres than there was back then. Latency and speed of transactions is important.

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If two customers are in the same data centre, latency is less than one millisecond, if one is here and the other one is in Slough it will be around three times longer. It is quite important that they are in the same data centre and we call that proximity hosting.

CBR: How do your data centres cope with the financial market customers?

AO: There is a bunch of meeting engines – the actual stock exchange, trading engines that receive and match the buy and sell orders – and they are in our data centre. People that actually want to transact on those exchanges are in our data centre as well.

These clients shoot in the transactions to buy and sell, and the matching engine matches those with orders coming from other people. The closer they are, the lower the latency, the bigger the chance of footfall being able to play in their favour. This will stop prices going up.

Often what we see is that they will have presence with Interxion and in Equinix’s Slough, and they will have redundant, resilient connections between the two locations.

CBR: How do you work with carriers in your hubs?

AO: With 39 data centres across Europe, even though we can connect them to each other’s, it is not our business to be a communications provider. Our customers do that.

We help our customers. We know the providers that live in our sites well and we also know what the good points are, what their strong goods are and we will help our customers sort out their network if they need it.

Carrying neutrality is a very important for us and we are truly neutral to whatever carrier that our customers want to use. We don’t favour one carrier over another and we want to have as many as possible, so our customers have many options to chose from, in order to organise their connectivity.

CBR: Why is the Marseille data centre so important?

AO: Marseille is a data centre we acquired last year. It is a landing point for a number of subsea cables coming from both East and West and it connects to the Middle East in Africa. A lot of players that want to serve end use customers in Africa and the Middle East often do not want to put lots of hardware and capital into those locations because they are frequently not politically stable.

The alternative way of serving those eyeballs is from mainland Europe and the most efficient and quickest way to do that is to be as close as possible to it, in Marseille. This French city has all the connections one needs to go into those locations.

We are building the data centre out which was run by SFR, a French Telecoms operator. We opened the second phase in mid April, and that is just the beginning of further space being brought online. It really connects us to the rest of the world in a big way.

CBR: Is cloud a threat to your business?

AO: We do not see it as a threat; we see it as an opportunity. There are a number of ways to migrate to the cloud for an enterprise customer. They can try and migrate all they do into the cloud, but there are not that many that are actually capable of doing that because not every application and not everything is suitable to go into a public cloud.

What is appearing now is what we call hybrid cloud where customers make a choice between what they want to outsource to a cloud provider and what they want to keep to themselves. However, there needs to be some kind of interconnection; it needs to work together, because often these workloads are not working in complete isolation. They need to exchange data in some way, shape or form, because there is an integrated data system and in some cases, when exchanging the data between those work-streams is latency-sensitive, then the same concept of proximity hosting comes into place.

CBR: Would you say hybrid cloud will open new doors to business revenue?

AO: Because latency and connectivity times are important, this is what we call hybrid connected cloud, and that is where we see a big wave coming at us. Customers need to power their infrastructure, proximity located hosted, right close to those on and off ramps and those connected computer environments of public cloud operators.

We have made huge efforts to get those on and off ramps and those cloud operators into our sites, like Microsoft, Amazon or Google. They have deployed quite a lot of infrastructure on our data centres across Europe and we are now starting to see enterprises coming to those same locations to interconnect with those cloud operators. We believe that is going to generate a big wave of business for the next ten-fifteen years.

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