PLDT prepares data centers for rising demand from hyperscalers

PLDT, through its ICT arm ePLDT, will begin the operations of its 11th and largest data center located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, middle of next year anticipating heightened demand for services from hyperscalers.

“We anticipate a growth in demand as we are extending the services from local enterprises that are trying to digitally transform to the hyperscalers,” said Victor Genuino, president and CEO of ePLDT, on the sidelines of ACC 2023, the annual conference for ICT players.

Hyperscalers are large cloud providers which include the likes of Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, among others.

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“Hyperscalers expand very quickly and we want to be at the forefront of that expansion and become the top of mind to meet their requirements easily,” Genuino said.

The Sta. Rosa VITRO Data Center, expected to be completed by June 2024, is PLDT’s largest data center to date, spanning 5 hectares and accommodating 4,500 racks. This hyperscale facility is designed to be Rated-3 Certified and Rated-4 Ready, equipped with a minimum of three fiber routes to ensure network diversity, resilience, and carrier neutrality.

“Through the infrastructure we are building, including the international submarine cables and fiber networks, we aim to position the Philippines to be not only an international transit hub alternative, but also a hyperscaler hub,” Genuino said. “Our message to enterprises, content delivery and distribution networks, and even the government is that we have the capabilities to provide the services they need.”

PLDT initially entered the data center business in 2000 to serve the company and its wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications. Customer demand drove the company to expand its data center services.

Through these data centers, PLDT seeks to encourage hyperscalers to establish larger zones in the Philippines, enhancing service quality for customers.

Energy mix

“Our goal is that, upon launch, the data center will be powered by at least 20% renewable energy,” said Genuino. “We hope to increase this percentage over time, finding a balance between available renewable energy sources and power cost.”

Typically, enterprise customer racks consume 3 kilowatts (KW) of power, while hyperscalers require 15KW. Racks equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) systems can demand approximately 35-40 KW.

Once construction is completed, the VITRO data center in Sta. Rosa will initially have a power capacity of 14MW, which will increase to 50MW when fully operational.

Another innovation PLDT plans to integrate into the data center is an immersive cooling system, as traditional cooling methods may not suffice in the future.

“We have to be very wise in terms of how to meet the evolving requirements of maintaining data centers because we have to be very cautious about managing the consumption of power conservation,” said Gary Ignacio, chief data center officer, ePLDT.

Ignacio emphasized the company’s focus on optimizing data center capabilities.

“Our primary focus now is to enhance data center efficiency and ensure compliance with evolving customer demands,” he said. “In terms of efficiency, we aim to reduce power usage effectiveness, targeting a rating of 1.4, slightly above Singapore’s requirement of 1.3 but significantly lower than our traditional data center operations. Before we were running at 1.7, 1.8, or 1.9.”

With its expanding digital infrastructure, Genuino highlighted ePLDT’s pivotal role in fostering the Philippines’ capacity to become a hub of excellence for ICT services.