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Gujarat Heavy Chemicals builds a datacenter in a remote location and saves crores

Debarati Roy | June 10, 2013
How—and why—the CIO of Gujarat Heavy Chemicals built a datacenter in a cyclone-prone, secluded sleepy little town—and saved crores.

A rather expensive arrangement, Sinha managed to offset the price of over provisioning by leveraging a few advantages he had at the plant location.

Utilizing the plant at Veraval to build his datacenter meant that GHCL had enough land to spare for a 2,000 sq. ft. datacenter without having to dole out a dime for it. The real estate benefit itself brought down the cost of the project significantly. That the plant has its own captive power generation capability meant uninterrupted power supply at no additional cost.

"Real estate is a considerable expense when setting up a datacenter. Having a plant location at Veraval meant that we wouldn't have to incur any extra cost on real estate for the datacenter," says Sinha.

And despite the over-provisioning, the datacenter cost GHCL only about Rs 5 crore. "A datacenter in Noida or Gurgaon would have cost about Rs 8 crore to build. Not just that, my expenditure on power, cooling, and real estate would have led to at least three times more opex than what I currently spend," says Sinha.

And it also wouldn't have provided Sinha with almost free air-conditioning. The plant's geographical location in Veraval--which enjoys a cool sea breeze--helps Sinha leverage the concept of ambient cooling for the datacenter. This meant he could reduce the number of ACs by XXXX.

With the infrastructure in place, Sinha had only one more hurdle to jump: Getting talent to man his datacenter in the boondocks. It was a pretty tall hurdle.

Fishing for Talent
In retrospect, getting the infrastructure bits right was a relatively easier problem to tackle, compared to finding people willing to work in a desolate location, far away from their families, says Sinha.

Despite being an industrial hub, Veraval has a population of only 1.5 lakh and is bereft of the glitz that metros and tier 1 cities offer. So even if he did manage to find people and convince them to move to Veraval, he knew he would have to be ready for a high attrition rate.

"I needed a team that was dedicated; that's what it takes to work under harsh conditions, in a small, little industrial town in the middle of nowhere. Attrition could become a serious problem because replacing a resource would be even more difficult," he says.

While talking to his team members and peers in Gujarat, Sinha unearthed a trait of the local population that he realized he could use to his benefit.

"I found out that people from this region are extremely family-oriented and like to live close to their homes. Also, hiring people locally would ensure I picked people who were well-adapted to Veravel's extreme weather conditions," he says.


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