Mr. Boller, you took on the position of CEO of Green at the beginning of the year. You are now building a seven-level office building in Lupfig and have just announced that a large new data center has been acquired. What are the reasons behind this brisk investment activity
Our project in Lupfig has been in planning since 2009. We are building in four phases – first two data center modules, then the office building, and finally, a third data center module. Our planning meets companies’ demand for secure space for their company data. Since data volumes are increasing by 40 to 60 percent each year, more space is also needed for company server rooms. The data center in Zurich that we have acquired is an ideal addition for us. It is near Zurich City and therefore interesting for companies such as financial institutes. Moreover, our data center locations in Zurich City and in Glattbrugg are almost completely filled. It therefore makes sense for us to create new capacity.
The new office building in Lupfig, which is known as InnovationTower, will be finished in September and be open to other tenants. Who will be moving in there?
Current plans are that Green will occupy two and a half levels, and that we will need another half level for emergency workplaces for our customers. A fitness center will be moving in, and on the ground floor there will be multifunctional rooms, meeting rooms, and a restaurant for all tenants. For the remaining two and a half levels, we are currently in discussion with prospective tenants.
Data has become a lucrative business for Green. What is your assessment of the future prospects?
This business will continue to remain interesting. Naturally, other providers are also expanding their capacity, but demand is increasing overall. Everyone is remaining in business, everyone is growing. And due to the stable conditions and excellent infrastructure, Swiss companies are in an ideal position to succeed even against international locations.
It seems to me that the data business is tailored to large customers. Does Green even service private persons?
It is true that we sell the large spaces in our data centers to mid-sized and larger companies. But we also use our space to operate our own web hosting, our new shop solution, and our e-mail service. And for about three years now, we have also offered different cloud packages, virtual servers, and dedicated servers that are all popular with smaller companies. All these services generate data and require hardware and secure hosting – i.e., in one of our data centers.
How has your original business as an Internet provider developed?
Although it might be perceived differently in public, Internet connections are still a major part of our business. And it has been a long time since we just sold Internet access. Digital TV and landline telephony, as well as free e-mail accounts, and storage are always included in our packages.
The era of analog telephony will expire at the end of 2017. At that point, all landline telephony will be changed over to the new Internet protocol (All IP). What tips do you have for the changeover?
The most important thing is not to wait until the switch-off deadline. Private individuals should start looking for a new provider now and compare their offerings. Because what is new is that a landline connection will no longer be needed (neither analog nor ISDN). The telephone will be connected to the router. Packages that combine Internet access and landline telephony are therefore especially attractive. The good news is that it will cost less. Base fees will rarely be required for new connections. Flat-rate packages often include free minutes. The changeover will be somewhat more complicated for companies since they may have other systems such as alarms, lifts, etc. connected to the telephone connection. In this case, it makes sense to take stock of exactly what you have and to consult a specialist. Telephone switchboards usually do not have to be replaced. Providers offer solutions to connect them to the new protocol.
«Our plans are in keeping with demand; the volume of data continues to grow.»
Frank Boller has been the Chief Executive Officer of Internet provider and data center operator Green since January 2016. Before that, he was an executive at UPC Cablecom and Sunrise. Before working in telecommunications, he was employed for many years at Hewlett-Packard, where he was in charge of Hewlett-Packard Switzerland as General Manager.