The internet is not the first attempt at organizing the world’s knowledge, but it is perhaps the most successful one. The technology was like a spark that became wildfire. People stored their data on floppy drives, CDs, pen drives, and hard drives—but more and more data came pouring in. The numbers of Google’s googol became less of an exaggeration and perhaps more of an underestimation. Soon the question arose, ‘Where to store all this data?’
Data centers came into being because local PCs and servers simply couldn’t keep up with the storage demands anymore. Huge, offsite, and recognizable as a ‘cloud,’ they became the epicenters of the world’s data. One of the hosts of such a modern library in Alexandria is Telehouse. A leading European provider of the colocation data center, offering global connectivity and reach to its customers.
Sami Slim is the CEO of Telehouse France. He is an expert on global carrier-grade telecommunications infrastructure and has worked with virtually every major carrier around the world. He has significant experience in infrastructure architecture, design, sales, negotiation, acquisition, and implementation on a global basis. Passionate about free and open internet, Sami is leading Telehouse France and, therefore, Europe to become the world’s digital backbone for data hosting.
Sami Slim shares his wisdom with CIOLook readers in an exclusive interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Telehouse France. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
I graduated from Telecom SudParis in 2010 and began working for Telehouse as a technical sales engineer. Before joining Telehouse Europe Strategy Department in 2013, I was at the heart of Telehouse’s data center and connectivity growth in France for three years.
In 2014, I took over as head of the France sales department before being promoted to Deputy Director in charge of Marketing and Sales. My mission as CEO was to accelerate Telehouse’s growth by assisting the Group’s customers and prospects in improving their interconnection capabilities.
I bring to Telehouse a passion for a free, neutral, and open Internet. My deep knowledge of the IT market and proximity to the Internet players contribute to consolidating Telehouse’s results and earn me the renewal of the Group’s confidence.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
A pioneer in data center hosting, Telehouse is the leading European provider of colocation data centers. Present in Europe for more than 30 years, Telehouse concentrates on the densest and most reputable neutral ecosystem of operators in the world.
Telehouse is a data center hosting and colocation provider, offering global connectivity and reach to its customers. Within our strategically located sites, our customers have access to one of Europe’s most diverse operator ecosystems: internet exchange points, cloud service providers, ISPs, ASPs, and much more.
A global data center colocation provider, Telehouse is a subsidiary of KDDI, a Japanese Global Fortune 500 company, one of the top ten telecommunications companies in the world.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted the telecommunications sector through your expertise in the market.
My sales background has given me the ability to transform telecommunications digitally. My areas of expertise include data center sales, evaluation, and negotiation; data center site selection (including large-scale cloud computing and facility design); Internet peering and transit strategy and negotiation; Internet backbone architecture, strategy, negotiation, and innovation; and emerging market Internet architecture and connectivity.
I am a firm believer in collaboration and teamwork. Not only within my own organization but also in the relationships I am assisting the organization in developing with other vendors, partners, and clients. It should never be forgotten that, while we talk about “the cloud,” all but a very small portion of internet traffic is still very much on the ground and under the sea. To capture this massive connective potential, all players and parties involved must contribute.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
Telehouse pioneered the neutral data center concept. That is to say, a data center in which we house all the operators to offer companies complete freedom in their choice of collaboration.
The Japanese heritage of the Telehouse company, which has allowed us to be recognized in terms of quality and reliability of service, has also enabled our TH2 data center in Paris to quickly become the center of data exchanges in France, which has changed the heart of our business. Beyond hosting our customers in secure spaces with high availability, our job is to deliver content to its recipients!
In the era of hyperconnectivity, critical data passes daily between service providers and their users. In this context, connectivity is becoming a major concern for companies that are looking for the most efficient connections, whether in terms of latency or bandwidth.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
With the huge success of Leon Frot, the new data center, in 2020 that connected directly to the connectivity facilities of TH2 Voltaire, the 4th most connected data center in the world, I have a vision of how Telehouse can expand its connectivity strategy in France. We will be moving further with the development of Telehouse Metroconnect, which links all Telehouse Paris data centers to the heart of connectivity in France, TH2 Voltaire.
What change would you like to bring to the telecommunications industry if given a chance?
The Internet is a common good. It should be treated as so. We should make sure that the Internet remains Open, Neutral, and Ubiquitous for humankind. It is a driving force for progress, innovation, and proximity between people.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the telecommunications sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
My ‘Connectivity Strategy’ focuses on collaborating with businesses that have skills and resources close to the data hubs and data centers that we are constructing. I also want Telehouse France’s infrastructure to be as open as possible in order to maintain France’s current central position in the global group strategy. My ambition is to make Europe the backbone of the global internet through the digital hubs of Paris and Marseille.
Telehouse France’s latest venture, the construction of a global data hub in Marseille, exemplifies my vision in action. You can reduce latency by using internet routes off the coast of France around Marseilles. The faster data travels, the greater the cost savings to your bottom line.
These milliseconds saved have the potential to transform how we use the internet. More people and businesses are beginning to consider online commerce, video, OTT streaming, gaming, real-time data transfer, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence as viable options.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Telehouse France?
I envision myself to keep developing the place of Telehouse as a connectivity leader in the future.
Telehouse invested 1 billion Euros in 2020 to double its reception capacities in Europe and thus support the growth of our customers. In Paris, in particular, our campus now has new connectivity spaces.
We have also invested in new interconnection technologies, which now allow our customers hosted in our data center in Magny Les Hameaux in the Yvellines TH3 to benefit from the connectivity of the market-leading data center TH2 Paris. Voltaire, thanks to ultra-fast metro connect links.
We are also setting up in the city of Marseille, a new digital hub in Europe due to the many strategic submarine cables present there and the digital dynamism of the region. The opening of THM1 Marseille allows our customers to open up to new growth markets in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
For this reason, I am taking Telehouse France into unchartered territory in terms of building and expanding its global infrastructure.
What would be your advice to individuals who aspire to venture into the telecommunications sector?
If you’re ambitious and want to make an impact on the world, Telco is the right space to express your talent. With the acceleration of digitalization and the blurring lines between software and infrastructure, there is an immense opportunity for growth.