Property developer New World backs data centre venture focused on emerging economies in Asia-Pacific
- Turbidite plans to acquire three edge data centres this year and a total of 18 over the course of four years
- Customers will include multinational corporations, large internet companies and global hyperscale data centre operators
Called Turbidite and co-founded by telecommunications industry veterans Bill Barney and Wilfred Kwan, the venture will focus on developing so-called edge data centres, which are carrier-neutral and support the online businesses of multinational corporations, large internet companies and global hyperscale data centre operators.
“Turbidite will look like a private equity vehicle, buying existing edge data centres at the beginning, and then shift to a holding company over the course of two to three years,” Barney told the South China Morning Post in a videoconference interview last week. He estimated that an edge data centre could cost between US$20 million to US$50 million on average, but did not elaborate about Turbidite’s spending target.
The company plans to make three acquisitions this year and a total of 18 over the course of four years, while expanding the capabilities of these facilities, according to Barney, who previously served as chief executive at private undersea cable network operator GCX, Reliance Data Centres, telecoms services provider Pacnet and Asia Netcom.
Data centres are secure, temperature-controlled facilities built to house large-capacity servers and data storage systems, backed by multiple power sources and high-bandwidth internet connections. These facilities are largely used to host cloud computing operations. Cloud services enable companies to buy, lease or sell software and other digital resources online, just like electricity from a power grid.
Processing data closer to local consumers, rather than going through the major hubs, helps improve the speed and reliability of applications like video games, streaming video and other online content.
Don So, head of business incubation at New World, on Monday described the company’s participation in Turbidite as “a new journey in meeting tech infrastructure demands across the region”.
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“Edge data centres have become so sexy right now, much like cloud computing back then,” said Jabez Tan, Los Angeles-based head of research at independent cloud and data centre consulting firm Structure Research. “But there’s definitely a very sound thesis about the whole value proposition of edge computing infrastructure.”
Tan said the edge data market was at a “nascent stage” of development, driven by decentralisation. “The large hyperscale [data centre] operators need to deploy smaller increments of cloud computing capability in smaller markets,” he said. “They need partners to close the gap.”
Tan estimated that the average cost of a hyperscale data centre was about US$8 million to US$9 million per megawatt. So a 20MW facility will cost about US$160 million, he said. The power capacity is reserved for data centre customers, which require enough electricity for thousands of servers and related information technology hardware collocated in those facilities.
An edge data centre typically requires up to 10MW of power. That means a smaller overall investment, but the cost per megawatt would be higher, according to Tan.
“There are roughly 600 data centres across the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East that are not owned by one of the big data centre companies, under a telecoms operator or affiliated with an IT company,” said Barney, adding that Turbidite forms part of a long-term business strategy for partner New World.
The stakes are high for the joint venture, as competition in the edge data centre market is expected to grow amid the opportunities in emerging economies.