Headquartered in Istanbul, Turkcell provides telecommunication services throughout Turkey and internationally. Turkcell is the leading mobile phone operator in the country and works with massive amounts of its clients’ data. To do this effectively and securely, the company makes use of large data centers where Turkcell collects, stores, processes, and distributes large amounts of data. Hill International, Inc. has supported Turkcell on several data center projects across the country and it continues to partner with the company on new projects today.
Most recently, Hill helped Turkcell deliver the Avrupa Data Center in Çorlu, one of the largest data centers in the country about 115 KM to the west of Istanbul. The 37,300 SM facility has more than 7,000 SM of “white space,” i.e. the space where the actual IT equipment (and the all-important data) is stored, processed, protected, and redistributed. Service for the facility is ensured by transformers, uninterruptable power suppliers (UPS), and generators throughout the building’s “gray space,” i.e. the space that houses the data center’s utilities. As Turkey is a hotspot for intense geological activity, 242 seismic isolators and 80 viscous dampers have been installed under the building, allowing the data center to withstand earthquakes up to a 9.0 magnitude on the Richter scale. Completed in Q4 2020, the new data center will help Turkcell meet customer needs with uninterrupted cloud, security, and access services. Hill’s team in Turkey provided project management services for the project.
“This was a very important project for Turkcell and its customers,” says Hill Director of Business Development and Operations Murat Kocakulak. “It allows the company to continue providing exceptional telecommunications services, as each square meter of white space’ is correlated with an increased data capacity. But it was also an important project for Hill’s team in Turkey and Hill’s teams all over Europe.” Kocakulak explains that data centers are demanding buildings, with unique and extensive architectural, electrical, and mechanical needs.
“One of the biggest challenges was managing the efficiency of the building. Data centers use massive amounts of electricity, not only to hold the data but to keep the data machines cool. Add the fact that Turkcell takes sustainability very seriously and had high aims for the project’s sustainability ratings, and you can begin to see the sort of constraints the team was up against. The design needed careful review and the construction careful oversight to ensure the efficiency the client required was delivered as planned.”
Despite the obstacles, the team achieved the client’s sustainability goals and the Avrupa Data Center will meet LEED Gold standards. Achieving sustainability did not prevent the team from delivering a successful project. In addition to being delivered on time and within budget, the data center received a Tier III data center design rating, an industry benchmark that means the center is capable of maintaining full operations during planned maintenance.
Because of the experience Hill cultivated with Turkcell on projects like the Avrupa Data Center, Turkcell recently awarded Hill a contract to support the expansion of the Gebze Data Center, approximately 65 KM southeast of Istanbul. Gebze, at 33,0000 SM, is also one of the largest data center operations in the country, with 10,000 SM of white space and 33,000 LM of fiber connections. The project will add a fourth module to the data center, adding nearly 2,000 SM of white space. Hill will manage the project, which is expected to conclude in Q4 2021.
“We look forward to continuing our support of Turkcell on the Gebze project,” says Hill Vice President and Managing Director for Turkey and CIS Serdar Gucar. “I think our team will be well prepared, with the lessons learned from Avrupa still so fresh. In addition, Turkey and the rest of Europe are prioritizing local data center operations, so we expect Turkcell and other clients in the region to continue investing in their data center capabilities in the coming years. By learning more about the unique needs of different data centers clients and demonstrating the value we can add to their teams, I feel confident we can continue winning data center work and delivering successful projects.”
Gucar’s words are supported by the data. Beyond Turkey and Europe, data centers’ importance continues to grow around the world. Global News Wire estimates a compound annual growth rate of 41% by 2025 for data centers globally, driven by advances in science and artificial intelligence. Likewise, says Global News Wire, COVID-19 is hastening the growth of data centers by creating a shift to digital work environments and digital-only services. Especially in Europe, data centers are experiencing a boom. According to DLA Piper, since 2016, when data center project transactions first broke the $1 billion per year mark, Europe has seen constant growth in the data center market. This is partially the result of the EU’s heightened awareness of the continent’s dependence on U.S. and Asian based data centers.
Indeed, as Gucar indicated, Hill is in a prime position for supporting data center growth across Europe, already working with global technology leaders across the continent to implement their data center projects. Hill’s professionals are skilled at capturing and translating specific project experience into broadly applicable lessons learned. Thus the team will be able to carry their successes on projects, like Avrupa, to achieve success on Turkcell’s other projects, like Gebze, and more data center projects throughout Europe and around the globe.