We spoke to Mike Hollands, Senior Director Market Development at Interxion: A Digital Realty Company, about recent trends in the submarine cable and data centre industries and what we can expect from the future

It goes without saying that data centres and the submarine cable industry are intrinsically linked, heavily reliant on one another to support their customers. But, with the coronavirus accelerating digitalisation and data demand skyrocketing, the relationship between these two industries is growing more complex. 
“We see success, as a data centre operator, in terms of the number of cross-connects – and these are measured in the hundreds for each system – that interconnect in our data centres, and of course the number of networks, content providers, cloud platforms, and edge notes that materialise in our data centres,” explained Hollands. 

But connecting submarine cables to data centres directly on the coast is no longer the only option for cable operators, who are increasingly integrating terrestrial networks within their projects. In this way, the operators can select the most effective data centre partners for their network, without being limited to those in close proximity to the landing site. 
“These are projects that are leveraging data centres that are hundreds of kilometres away from the coast,” explained Hollands, citing the transatlantic cable Ellalink, which links Brazil to Portugal, as an interesting example. “[Ellalink] have taken great care to ensure that, when they launched their project, they had an integrated terrestrial and subsea network, which allows their customers to interconnect to their cable at multiple points, whether that’s at Sines, Lisbon, or, in the case of Interxion, in Madrid.”
Holland notes that Telxius, who own one fibre pair on the transatlantic Google’s Dunant cable, have adopted a similar strategy, extending their part of the network from the landing point at Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez in western France all the way to Paris. 
“By bringing their network to Paris, they are able to interconnect with the vast number of networks and content providers efficiently and effectively,” said Hollands.
This strategic shift is becoming far more common for the industry, with numerous upcoming projects, including the CrossChannel Fibre system and the Nordic expansions to the Eastern Light system, having also adopted this approach. 
But these new approaches to harnessing interconnectivity does not mean that a city like Marseille will become any less vital to the submarine cable industry. In fact, there are numerous new cables already being planned to take advantage of the city’s vast infrastructure. 
Hollands notes that Interxion will continue to add value in Marseille, helping it to become even more integrated with neighbouring Mediterranean connectivity hubs. The company’s fourth data centre in the city will be going live in June 2022.
However, he also highlights that the city’s strategic role is evolving. 
“The role the city plays is changing from just being an interconnection hub, where networks exchange traffic with one another,” he explained. “It’s going to build on that and become what we see as a content hub. We’re seeing cloud players making multimegawatt deployments in Marseille – it’s not just a network traffic exchange point anymore, but a place where content is created and aggregated, before utilising the city’s interconnectivity to get sent around the world.” 
If you want to learn more about Interxion and the company’s plans for expansion in the coming years, the full interview with Mike Hollands can be watched from the link above.

Mike Hollands will be speaking at the Submarine Networks EMEA conference taking place on 1–3 September. Register your place now.

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