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Toronto Virtual Office Hero1
— Blog

Toronto Virtual Open House: Q&A

John Kazantzidis, Director, Solutions Engineering
September 18, 2020

The digital economy is remaking private and public enterprises across all industries, transforming how they create and deliver value. This is especially true for fast-growing market segments, such as Toronto's rapidly-accelerating tech industry. It's imperative for companies to operate ubiquitously and on-demand, augmented by real-time intelligence to best serve customers, partners, and employees across channels, business functions, and points of business presence.

This forces IT to implement a decentralized infrastructure, thus addressing Data Gravity - the effect that attracts large sets of data or highly active applications/services to other large sets of data or highly active applications/services. It's the same way gravity attracts planets or stars. Data Gravity can create barriers that inhibit workflow performance, raise security concerns, and increase costs.

Our Toronto multi-tenant datacenter facility is designed to accommodate distributed workflows that vary by participant, application, information, and location-specific needs. It is an entity in our global datacenter platform that delivers a trusted foundation of coverage, capacity, and ecosystem connectivity.

We recently announced our colocation expansion in our TOR1 facility at One Century Place with an additional 6,000 sq. ft. and 1,500 kilowatts of colocation capacity. Our TOR1 facility is designed to be one of Canada's most advanced data centers, enabling businesses to re-architect IT strategies towards a decentralized infrastructure to scale and succeed in the digital economy.

We took a deeper dive into our colocation expansion and what makes Toronto a desirable data center market during our Toronto Virtual Open House event last month. We were joined by leading experts, including Scott Mills, our VP of Solution Engineering, Gila Martow, MPP for Thornhill, and Philbert Shih, and Managing Director of Structure Research. The event included a virtual tour of our TOR1 facility.

We were so pleased with the level of engagement our attendees brought, which included many outstanding questions about the facility. Topics included power density, cloud service providers, certifications, security, and renewable energy. I have compiled the full list of questions below with my answers to each.

You can also watch the replay of the event here.


Q: Can you describe the visitor access and security procedures?

A: There are multiple checkpoints and badging machines before anyone can enter the facility. There is a vehicular gate with badge access. So, before you can even park onsite, you have to badge in and be granted access. There's an intercom at the gate. Once you've parked, there are two more badge readers to get into the security lobby. There's also an anti-tailgate device we installed in the lobby to ensure only one person badges in at a time. If you're a visitor, you'll be given a visitor access badge used to go through the turnstile (one person at a time). Everyone that enters the facility has been logged and is in our records before they enter.

Q: Are you working with a staged rollout at TOR1? What percentage of the facility is currently occupied?

A: We have about 1/3 of the space occupied at this point, and we have a lot of runway left to go. Yes, we build-out in stages. This colocation data center that we're building at 10,000 square feet is probably the first of several data centers in this facility that we'll build-out. They're dedicated to colocation. We have a few onsite hyperscale customers, some of which can be leveraged for direct connectivity, and others can complement your business in other ways. We provide a great hyperscayle ecosystem for customers.

Q: Do you offer hot or cold aisle containment?

A: We have a raised floor at the facility that allows us to offer either solution. Whether you're looking for a hot aisle or cold aisle solution, we can accommodate either. If you don't have a vendor preference or a containment-type preference, you can leverage some off-the-shelf inventory from Digital Realty to get you a faster deployment.

Q: What kind of power redundancy technology are you using there?

A: We have a concurrently-maintainable facility, so we're using static UPS modules in N+1 fashion. They can be reconfigured. Let's say you're a financial institution that has a 2N minimum requirement. We can reconfigure those for 2N or any level of redundancy that you need. We understood going into this market that different customers were going to have different demands. The market had many enterprise customers with very particular needs, so we ensured that our design could accommodate any requirement, whether that's N, 2N, or N+1.

Q: What CSPs are available at 1 Century Place? Does your Megaport offer expand into this data center?

A: Yes. Megaport powers our Service Exchange so we can connect you to any cloud.

Q: Is TOR1 a Tier 1 data center?

A: In terms of the Uptime definition, I'd say the site is closest to a Tier 3.

Q: Is any renewable energy used to generate this data center?

A: Typically, we're not generating renewable energy at the data center because of how much space it takes to generate renewable energy on-premises. However, we will offset any energy usage at the data center with renewable energy credits. That's typically how our customers can stay carbon-neutral and offset any power use with clean renewables. The power mix is pretty good in this market given the amount of hydro that's going in, so if you're looking to offset your non-renewable sources with clean, renewable energy, that's the way we would recommend doing it.

Q: What is the carrier capacity in the Meet Me Room?

A: Currently, we have about five carriers that are native to the Meet Me Room. We're planning on expanding that, and we do have dark fiber that goes back to 151 Front Street. If you're looking for a carrier that hasn't built into our Meet Me Room, we can tether you back to 151 Front. Also, having Megaport onsite helps us get you Layer 2 connectivity between our site and anywhere.

Q: Do you provide remote hands at the site with a local team?

A: Yes.

Q: Are all cages and cabinets pre-wired with fibers? How many pairs are pre-wired?

A: Not all of the cabinets are pre-wired with fiber. We have remote hands staff onsite that can wire up whatever we need very quickly. So whatever your fiber requirements are, we have the appropriate equipment to get you up and running.

Q: Is the facility strictly colocation?

A: No, not at all. The TOR1 facility can support any customer from one cabinet to 35 MW.

Q: Is there client parking onsite? If so, is there a charge for parking?

A: There is no charge for parking on site.

Q: Can the green energy credits from the site be passed on to a suite customer for their accounting procedures?

A: Yes, that's typically how it works. When a customer orders renewable energy credits, the credits go to them, not us. So we retire the credits in the customer's name. We recognize how important that is for many of our customers and their renewable energy initiatives.

Q: What heat density per cabinet can you support?

A: There's no set cabinet density. Our engineering team loves the challenge of figuring out how to support any customer, and we have yet to stump them. We have some customers nearing 40kW per cabinet of the actual load. So please bring on your technical challenges since we have the right team to support you.

Q: What cloud connectivity do you offer?

A: We have several solutions for direct connections, as well as scalable multi-cloud offerings. Service Exchange is one of our multi-cloud offerings in our Toronto facility. We're continuously working to enhance our capabilities, so I encourage everyone to keep in touch with our team for the latest updates. We recently announced our new offering of IBM's next-generation Direct Link 2.0, which enables customers to spend less time designing and deploying network architectures to accelerate the development of new solutions via the hybrid cloud.

Q: If the facility SOC2/3 certified?

A: All of Digital realty's sites typically undergo a SOC2 audit every year. So, that's something we'd be looking to achieve for TOR1.

Q: How many generators do you have on site? Flywheels?

A: There are no flywheels on this site. We do have 16 generators planned for phase one on the site. We expect to have upwards of 30 generators by the time the site is finished. There's a lot of flexibility and space at this site, so the number of generators will vary based on customer needs.

Q: The power resiliency follows 2N vs. N+1?

A: As a standard, we're deploying in an N+1 fashion, but it can be rearranged. If a customer is looking for a 2N configuration, that's something we could figure out for them.

Q: Is the density based on air-cooled by standard room cooling, and is that load accommodating contiguous at the high density?

A: We do have some customers filling up entire rooms with 40kW cabinets, which is air-cooled. So typically, what we would do is face those cabinets out and make sure we're getting the right amount of CFM. We can support some liquid-cooled solutions as well.

Q: What's your turnaround time to provision a new suite?

A: Depends on the scope of a deployment. Typically, a new data center in this market is taking us six months to deploy. Smaller deployments, i.e., 50kW, could be 2-4 weeks.

Q: What is the pricing model like?

A: For colocation, an all-in pricing model is used.

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted the Toronto market? Has it accelerated the need for a diverse location in North America outside the US?

A: We saw an increased demand for data centers in Toronto before COVID and have not noticed an additional impact since.

Q: We have a data center in your NYC facility. What is the bandwidth between NYC (60 Hudson) & the Toronto facility?

A: We can offer ten gb ports through service exchange today and can lag the ports together if higher bandwidth is needed.

Q: With a design PUE of 1.25 at low occupation, what PUE is proposed/capped at?

A: One of the main reasons we use the cooling solution is its superior performance at low loads. Obviously, PUE's will be poor at 1-10kW in the suite, but they will align with industry expectations at very low loads.

Q: Are 415V PDU's available?

A: 400 & 415V distribution are not currently utilized in the colocation area, but could be supported if needed. Hyperscale customers at the site now use 415V PDU's.

Q: Are all 280 data centers combined assets of Digital Realty and partner ecosystems?

A: Yes

Q: In the video tour, it seems that all power and network cables are on the calling trays. Is there cable under the raised floor?

A: Power cables are under the raised floor as a standard, but some customers prefer to deploy busway overhead.

Q: Available AC or DC or both?

A: AC or DC can be accommodated.

Q: Does the moose in the lobby have a name?

A: Yes! Presston Starwinkle. We inherited him from The Toronto Star Press days.

Q: Does your online portal for scheduling smart-hands / onsite service easily modify an existing order, or does the order have to be canceled and recreated if there is a need to change certain details like scheduled start time or scope of work?

A: Orders can be modified and resubmitted.

Have additional questions? You can reach out to me at jkazantzidis@digitalrealty.com

Toronto Virtual Open House
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