With capacity of 54 MW, Chennai emerging as data centre hub

The Tamil Nadu government is wooing firms in the data centre space, and the State has signed MoUs with 11 firms recently

August 20, 2021 04:22 pm | Updated 04:22 pm IST - Sangeetha Kandavel

With a current capacity of 54 MW, Chennai is steadily emerging as a data centre hub and the city is likely to increase its supply by 1.3 times in the next 2 years, with a planned pipeline of 79 MW. The Tamil Nadu government is wooing firms in the data centre space and the State has signed MoUs with 11 firms, entailing investments worth ₹18,827 crore in recent months.

“The most common requirements to establish a data centre, which include submarine cable landing stations, ample power supply and thriving IT infrastructure, already exist in Tamil Nadu. And with the proposed data centre policy, we are well positioned to take over this growing market,” Pooja Kulkarni, managing director and chief executive officer, Guidance, told The Hindu .

State government officials and Guidance have indicated that more deals will happen in this space in the coming months and talks are on with various firms across the globe.

Currently, Chennai has the third-highest data centre capacity in India, after Mumbai (199 MW) and Bangalore (57 MW). Chennai also has high occupancy levels (83%) due to space taken up by large cloud companies.

Jerry Kingsley, senior director Capital Markets, Jones Lang LaSalle, pointed out that historically, Chennai has been a hub for data centres for telecom operators. “Bharti Airtel, through its subsidiary Nxtra has established a data centre in Siruseri, and is currently constructing its second data centre. Similarly, Vodafone and Reliance have established their data centres in Siruseri,” he added.

Tata Communications Limited (TCL) had acquired the VSNL Earth Station in 2002. ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT) acquired this TCL asset in 2016 to establish their data centre. Apart from STT, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) have established their data centre in Velapanchavadi, which is 6 km from the Ambattur micro-market. “Sify has established their data centre in Taramani. Their proposed second data centre is to be established in Siruseri,” Mr Kingsley pointed out.

Plans for the future

Yotta Infrastructure, a Hiranandani Group subsidiary and a managed data centre service provider developing a hyper-scale data centre park, will set up its park in Chennai. The Hiranandani Group and its group companies, along with Yotta, will invest ₹4,000 crore in this proposed project over 8-10 years. Sunil Gupta, co-founder and CEO, Yotta, said that the proposed data centre park will be built on a 20-acre campus at Hiranandani Parks on the Singaperumal – Oragadam highway.

He added, “The first data centre building, with a built-up area of 350,000 square feet, will be live by December 2022. We are coming up with a 5 MW IT power facility in our Chennai campus. This facility will be live by April 2022.”

Princeton Digital Group, which has inked an MoU worth ₹750 crore with the Tamil Nadu government, said that its actual investments are expected to be much higher than this. The company further said that Chennai is a fast-growing market that has evolved as a regional data centre hub for cloud service providers, even serving customers outside of Tamil Nadu.

Sumit Mukhija, CEO of STT GDC India said, “We had signed an MoU in May 2020 to expand our data centre footprint in the State and invest upto ₹1,500 crore in phases over the next 5-7 years. The company has already invested close to ₹1,000 crore over the last couple of years and is actively considering further expansion of its overall capacity by an additional 40-60 MW of IT load.”

STT GDC India which has already established three major data centre facilities in Chennai, is one of the largest players in this space in the city. Its first centre in Chennai has been operational since 2005, and has around 5 MW of IT load while the second one is at Ambattur. With an IT capacity of 25 MW, the 400,000 sq. ft. facility is India’s largest data centre in the production environment. The third centre, with a design capacity of 15MW critical IT load, went live recently in June, taking the overall production capacity in Ambattur to 40MW of IT load.

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