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The Dynjeeling Unlimited Part 3: Searching The City Of Bangalore

Bangalore, the well-known information technology (IT) capital of India, is located near the southern tip of the country. The IT parks of Bangalore, however, are located in an adjacent suburb known as Whitefield, located about 15 kilometers away from the center of the city.

As India’s IT capital, Bangalore represents a different type of strategic Internet asset, (different from Chennai or Mumbai where the cable landing stations are), being a location where a significant amount of businesses have their enterprise data centers located.

Data centers in Bangalore (yes, data centers) are slightly larger than those in Chennai with technical floor spaces from 50,000 sq. ft. to over 400,000 sq. ft. The overall density over deployment appears to be higher as well with providers offering greater than 10kVA per rack being commonplace.

In this final installment of the series, I’ll take you inside what I found in Bangalore and give you more insight into India’s power infrastructure.

The Power Infrastructure in India

When thinking about rack densities, whether is be 2.4kVA, 6kVA, or 8kVA (commonly found ratings in the US), it all comes back to power delivery and power sources. The Indian power grids, which are a government operation in India, are split into four discreet power grid zones: north, west, south, and east.

Within a grid, companies that both generate and distribute power within the same grid are required to keep separate business operations between the two entities.

The commonplace design of power grids in India makes it difficult for data centers to achieve a Tier-4 status –- a design and implementation standard requiring data centers to have connection to two diverse sources of utility power. The requirement for diverse sources goes back from the facility’s input transformers, through the local distribution network, with diverse routes on the grid back to two diverse power generation stations.

Dynjeeling-Unlimited
Raj Vysetty (left) and Tom Daly (right) are now in Bangalore.

More commonplace is the Tier-3 design, which calls for a facility to connect to two diverse distribution stations, but does not have a requirement to run back to two diverse generation stations.

However, the known instability of power in India means that data centers are required to rely on their diesel generator infrastructure on a regular basis. Facilities we visited had rigorous generator testing procedures, most operating their data centers from generators on a daily interval due to regular utility power outages.

While this instability may sound like a bad thing, one key take away to consider is that these systems are being exercised, maintained, and tested on a very regular basis – unlike other worldwide standards which mandate a weekly test of diesel generators.

In fact, a few meetings were interrupted when conference rooms suddenly went dark, pausing the discussion, while we patiently waited to hear the sputtering start of the generators. In all cases, power came back on after a few short moments.

It’s worth mentioning the impact that the climate of India has on data centers, especially when it comes to cooling and HVAC.

The natural humidity of the country (yes, there’s a monsoon outside today) means that make-up air for the data center needs to be heated to be dried out, then cooled back down again.

The raw temperature differential between the data center itself and the exterior is a huge gap – many times over 30 degrees Fahrenheit! This means that cooling and HVAC systems in India are forced to work even harder than other regions of the world – which means more load on power grids!

What did we find in Bangalore?

As we surveyed Chennai and Bangalore, we learned that Tier-4 design compliant data centers have prevalently been built up in Mumbai with multiple facilities offering this grade of power delivery. In Bangalore and Chennai, we found data centers adhering to Tier-3 standards only.

Unfortunately, this information conflicted with the data we received from various sources prior to our trip that Chennai offered that strongest power infrastructure in the country. While this may have been true three to five years ago, it appears that recent investment in power distribution networks in Mumbai may provide the most reliable power in the country.

Companies considering a data center in India should strongly consider these factors as they build out – just as Dyn is. It’s this type of information that is nearly impossible to gather from 6,000 kilometers away – a face to face meeting is necessary.

Given a choice between Chennai, Bangalore, and Mumbai? We’ll probably stay away from Bangalore at this point in time. Bangalore’s data center services appear to be targeted towards the enterprise IT sector, rather than the Internet services sector – a fact that would appear to make sense given Bangalore’s business objectives.

We certainly found very nice data centers in Bangalore, but for Dyn, a network-centric focus is one of our core needs.

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Whois: Tom Daly

Tom Daly is a co-founder of Dyn, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.