Digital Realty: building the digital future

Harry Menear
|Nov 7|magazine18 min read

The global business landscape is experiencing a sea change. This transformation is permeating every industry and market, seeing enterprises in the public and private sectors swept along by a rising tide of demand for interconnected digital services. The ongoing transformation of the global economy is increasing the need for a wider array of digital infrastructure solutions, and is driving a seismic evolution on a global scale. "We're the best positioned in the industry to address the broadest range of requirements. We build, design, operate some of the most highly interconnected data centres in the world,” says Corey Dyer, EVP of Global Sales and Marketing for Digital Realty. Arriving at Digital Realty in January 2019, Dyer can look back on a year of continued growth and strategic success. Now, he and the rest of Digital Realty are looking forward, as the company embarks on the next phase of its digital transformation voyage.

Founded in 2004, Digital Realty supports the digital infrastructure needs of more than 2,000 companies across the Americas, EMEA and APAC, with industry-leading data centre, colocation and interconnection services. Being uniquely positioned as the largest provider of data centre and digital infrastructure solutions worldwide gives Digital Realty the opportunity to not only navigate the tides of change, but also direct them to help create even more value for its customers.

The digital economy is remaking both private and public enterprises across all industries, transforming how they create and deliver value,” says Tony Bishop, SVP of Platform and Ecosystem Strategy at Digital Realty. Now more than ever, Bishop believes, companies need to operate ubiquitously, providing on-demand services to customers, partners and employees enabled by intelligent analytics. “Companies are being forced to re-architect their IT towards a decentralised infrastructure to accommodate distributed workflows, which vary by participant, application, information and location specific needs,” he elaborates. Dyer agrees. “These customers need a platform that allows them to augment and change things in real time,” he says.

From this market-wide demand for solutions to the increasingly mission critical nature of agile, on-demand capability is at the heart of Digital Realty’s newest offering: Platform Digital. Scheduled for launch this month at the company’s MarketplaceLIVE event in New York, Platform Digital is a new way of approaching digital infrastructure, a “one-stop solution that helps to interconnect their entire digital ecosystem,” enthuses Bishop. “Customers will get to collaborate at scale to solve the problems of global coverage and capacity through one provider; tailor their infrastructure deployments to their business needs, irrespective of data centre size, scale or location; and operate their deployments as a seamless extension of their global infrastructure to enable globally distributed workflows.” 

Digital Realty is a genuinely global partner, placing customer service at the heart of its business strategy. Dyer notes that the company is uniquely positioned to deliver a service that is unavailable anywhere else in the data centre space. “We’re really the only provider that operates globally at scale, but at the same time, we offer this highly tailored experience to each individual customer,” he says. “From a single cabinet, up to multiple megawatts, we’re a one stop shop for all their infrastructure needs.” This will be key to Digital Realty’s creation of a truly interconnected infrastructure offering. “We’re refocusing our business to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity and become the global partner that helps companies manage their digital transformation with their data centre infrastructure as the foundation,” says Bishop. 

At MarketplaceLIVE, the company will launch Platform Digital. The event – taking place on 7 November at Spring Studios – is intended to facilitate discussions around the future of digital transformation. “We’ll host conversations around connectivity and connected technology across AI, cloud computing and other industries. We’re bringing together the community that builds the cloud, network and internet infrastructure to demonstrate how Platform Digital is built to lead companies into the future of the digital economy,” says Bishop. This future that Digital Realty is helping create for (and with) its clients and partners is defined by interconnection and the ways in which coming together fosters collaboration. “It's a huge opportunity for us to connect, not only with our customers but with our partner world,” says Dyer. 

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Quotables

The digital economy is remaking both private and public enterprises across all industries, transforming how they create and deliver value” - Tony Bishop, SVP, Platform and Ecosystem Strategy

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In addition to being an infrastructure provider, Digital Realty acts as a facilitator of expertise and connections to its client network. Offering a full range of fit-for-purpose data center solutions, from single cabinet colocation to private hyperscale facilities, Dyer remarks that there really is no end to the variation in the relationships and support structures Digital Realty provides. “Because we have such a strong partner community, we can be very agile in how we support our customers in such a fast-paced environment.” 

Digital Realty is continuing to grow, both in scale and agility, through a combination of organic and acquisition-fueled growth. In 2015, the company completed its acquisition of data centre solutions company Telx in a deal valued in excess of US$1.8bn. “The Telx acquisition has been a huge boost to us and our ability to provide interconnection, which massively helped us build Platform Digital,” Dyer explains. In addition to the Telx acquisition, the business has also completed the acquisition of data centre infrastructure company Ascenty and entered into joint ventures related to three of its data centres.

The past year alone has seen Digital Realty expand its operations in Frankfurt, Tokyo, Chicago, Dublin, Northern Virginia, Brazil and more, as well as announcing plans to enter the South Korean market for the first time. A large element of Digital Realty’s growth is self-funded, an impressive feat given what Dyer describes as the “capital intensive” nature of the industry. In September, the company sold 10 of its Powered Base Building s® to Singaporian real estate developer Mapletree Investments, along with the establishment of a joint venture to co-manage three more facilities. The deal saw Digital Realty generate around $1.4bn in capital. “The transaction is going to allow us to continue self-funding our growth, diversify some of our sources of equity and capital, and really let us harvest value from our fully stabilised assets so that we can redeploy the proceeds into higher yielding development opportunities,” Dyer explains. “It continues to build on our global expansions, and lets us stay focused on our core markets and the assets that we think drive the most value to our customers. It also reduces our reliance on capital markets, which can be volatile.”  

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As a leading builder and operator of data centre infrastructure, Digital Realty is aware of the role it has to play in the evolution of the market as a whole. Given that global internet usage has tripled since 2015, and is predicted to double again by 2022, managing the amount of power consumed by the world’s data centres and networks is key to operators’ sustainability goals. Digital Realty continues to set and exceed ambitious sustainability and renewable energy goals, achieving 100% renewable energy for its EMEA portfolio, 100% wind power for its US colocation business unit, 100% carbon free and renewable power supplied to several Northern California properties, and boasting more certified green buildings than any other data centre provider. “Reducing our environmental impact is a priority for us,” says Dyer. “Our long-term goal is to pursue 100% renewable energy for our global portfolio.” 

The launch of Platform Digital at MarketplaceLIVE is the highlight of a year filled with global growth and billion-dollar deals, highlighting its importance to the company’s strategy. “The launch is going to be the big mover for us, and I’m very excited,” says Dyer. “It’s going to have a huge impact on our business, and our customers’ businesses as well.” Harnessing its industry leading scale, its commitment to providing a personalised service to suit the needs of each individual customer and an increasingly sustainable portfolio, Digital Realty is set to enter 2020 as a force for intelligent, interconnected digital infrastructure solutions. 

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