How Beyond.pl Is Helping Lead the Cloud Revolution in Central Europe
Poland and the larger Central European region stand at an exciting point in their digital transformation. Just two years ago, Poland was well below the European Union average in cloud adoption. In 2018, the EU average for cloud adoption was 24% and in Poland, the average was just 11%. At the end of 2020, the EU average for cloud adoption had risen to 36%, and in Poland it was 24%. Even though we’re still behind the EU average, Poland’s cloud adoption rate has more than doubled in just two years. That represents a very attractive market growth and an exciting opportunity for service providers like us.
Beyond.pl launched in Poland more than 16 years ago, in the very early days of the cloud. Back then, traditional telecom players dominated the market, providing data center services in almost monopolistic environments. The idea of cloud technologies was still new to the public and virtually nonexistent on the market.
Beyond.pl was quick to innovate, and as a result we have found ourselves as a leader within the data center and colocation services industry. By 2016, our first data center had become too small for our client needs, so we decided to build a world-class facility on the outskirts of the city of Poznan. The location is significant, as Poznan is halfway between the capital cities of Berlin and Warsaw. From a connectivity perspective, round trip latency from Beyond.pl is below 11 milliseconds to key European markets (such as Frankfurt, Berlin, Warsaw, and Prague), making it a strategic location for customers looking to enter the rapidly growing Polish and greater Central European market.
A New Data Center Highlights the Best We Have to Offer
We invested in the quality of our infrastructure, building out top-level security. Up until September 2020, Beyond.pl Data Center 2 remained the only data center in the entire European Union to meet the strict ANSI/TIA-942 Rated 4 security rating. This allows us to guarantee the highest levels of availability of services to our customers with uptime above 99.995% (representing a maximum downtime of 26 minutes per year). And, actually, since commissioning in 2016, customers have experienced 100% uptime.
Apart from security, we also invested heavily in energy efficiency at our new data center, becoming the most energy-efficient facility in Central Europe. Poland still has a bad reputation for being a carbon-heavy economy, but, in fact, 20% of the national economy is green. In both our facilities, we provide services to our customers using entirely green energy.
On top of this, our facility has a PUE of 1.2, which means that for every kilowatt of energy consumed by IT equipment, we only consume 20% more for the auxiliary data center infrastructure. The market standard in the region is 1.4–1.5. That means not only do customers experience a 20–30% saving on their energy bill, but also a significant decrease in their carbon footprint when hosting their equipment at our facility.
To continue these trends of innovation, energy efficiency, and best-in-class security and service, Beyond.pl recently partnered with cloud services to bring a broad spectrum of flexible, on-demand IT infrastructure offerings to our shared customers. Under this strategic partnership with HPE, Beyond.pl’s existing IT estate expands to a new suite of cloud services. At the same time, our data center becomes an authorized colocation facility for HPE-managed customers who require off-premises as-a-service solutions.
We’ve discovered enormous interest in this joint offering between HPE and Beyond.pl, allowing customers to take full advantage of a hybrid cloud model.
Central Europe’s Digital Transformation Led to Changing Needs
Beyond.pl’s partnership with HPE GreenLake could not have come at a better time. I have been involved with Beyond.pl for close to five years now, starting as a supervisory board member overseeing the investment. In May of 2020, I stepped into the role of CEO. As I assumed the responsibility for leading the company, I also took stock of our customers’ needs.
Poland's businesses are rapidly adopting the cloud, but we still have a big gap to close to get to the European average. Many companies still rely on investment-heavy on-premises infrastructure, but that is quickly changing. At the same time I became CEO at Beyond.pl, two of the biggest cloud players, Google and Microsoft, announced that they would be opening regional hubs in Poland. That meant a lot of customers would be approached with public cloud propositions. What we know from our discussions with customers, however, is that these are not one-size-fits-all solutions and may fit only a few of their use cases. What customers actually want are hybrid models that can be appropriately tailored to fit the full scope of their vision.
In the summer of 2020, I reached out to HPE to start the discussion on how we could bring HPE and Beyond.pl together to create a unique offering in the market. HPE proposed we look into the HPE GreenLake approach and its pay-per-use model, which became of immediate interest to us due to the elasticity this brings to our joint customers.
Matching Customer Growth to a Pay-Per-Use Model
When we sit down with our customers, we usually model out a five-year total cost of ownership for their full IT solution requirements, including equipment and the added costs to maintain, house, power, and administer the equipment, whether it’s on-premises or in our data center. This modeling illustrated a trend: Historically, many of our customers made the decision to invest a lot of money upfront, not only for the necessary IT equipment to meet their needs at the time, but also to oversize the specifications of that equipment to ensure it can support their growth. If they decided to collocate that equipment on-premises, they also invested significant amounts into data center infrastructure such as generators or cooling equipment. What was evident, however, was that these capital expenditures in IT do not support the customer’s core business and there was a lot of frozen cash that could have been allocated to key business processes.
By acting as a marketplace for HPE GreenLake, Beyond.pl can offer our customers capacity for growth and accommodate cyclical ups and downs, without the heavy upfront investment into IT and data center infrastructure. Our data center has the space and capacity to support our customer’s growth, we have the people to maintain the equipment, we have the strictest security ensuring availability of services at the highest levels on the market, and we have invested in energy efficiency to ensure that the cost of running the equipment is minimal and the effects of which are carbon neutral. Adding the HPE GreenLake model on top of that, we can respond in an elastic way to customer needs, workloads, and storage requirements. The equipment needs are scoped specifically to the requirements at the time, with buffers made available on-demand to meet cyclical peaks and growth needs at no extra cost.
Beyond.pl offered hybrid services before partnering with HPE GreenLake, so we were well-versed in giving our customers the flexibility to choose an infrastructure setup that suits their needs. However, these offerings never featured a pay-per-use model, which significantly reduces the customer’s upfront costs. And that, combined with never having to overspend or overbook space in a data center, makes it a game changer from a financial perspective. On a macro level, the pay-per-use model is where the market is headed.
Real Cost Savings and a Competitive Advantage
One of our customers in the energy sector was one of the first to transition to this new model. They have an aggressive growth strategy around customer acquisitions, so they require IT infrastructure that will keep up with their growth trajectory. At the same time, their business is cyclical, tied to the monthly billing cycles of electricity meters. That billing cycle determines specific workloads, with big peaks at the end of each month, impacting short-term IT capacity requirements.
Despite these fluctuating needs and anticipated growth, they did not want to overinvest in infrastructure that would remain unutilized for much of the time. Beyond.pl and HPE came together to design a hybrid solution that, complemented by the HPE GreenLake model, allowed this customer to realize a 30% saving in the total cost of ownership of their IT infrastructure over a five-year period. That 30% savings isn’t an assumption in a spreadsheet somewhere—it’s rolled out, delivered, and performing exactly as it was modeled. We have seen a lot of these customer wins already, and we have many more transitioning to this model in the pipeline today.
Traditionally, IT departments have been slow to transition to cloud services because of concerns around privacy, regulatory, security, and availability. It’s their job to ensure that the organization runs as smoothly and securely as possible, and moving to the cloud is a complex undertaking. It is also true that not all systems can easily transform or adapt to a cloud model, especially if you are working with legacy systems. Appropriately defined hybrid solutions can ensure that the IT departments’ concerns are addressed while deploying a model which supports the company’s needs at an optimized cost.
Other countries, even some of our neighbors in the EU, have adapted to the cloud quicker, but Poland is catching up. This transformation has only been expedited by the pandemic, as companies have further digitized their business models to ensure constant access to their employees, customers, and products. Together with HPE, Beyond.pl is there with the solutions they need.
Furthermore, our strategic location allows us to efficiently serve customers in the greater Central European market. Over 40% of our customers come from outside Poland—notably Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Hungary—and that, coupled with our first-of-its-kind partnership with HPE GreenLake, gives us a competitive advantage in the region.
The Big Picture of Security, Availability, and Sustainability
Beyond.pl wants to be at the forefront of the region’s digital transformation, and we hope to do that while never losing sight of our commitment to sustainability. The digital transformation increases the need for data, processing, and storage. It increases the need for data centers. And it therefore increases the need for energy. It is essential that this digital transformation not come at a cost to the environment.
The European Union has defined a goal to reach climate neutrality by 2050. We are aware of the role the data center industry has to play to ensure this goal is reached and are a founding member of the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact and European Green Digital Coalition. Concurrently, HPE is leading the revolution in energy efficiency on the IT infrastructure front, as their servers are so powerful, they allow us to do more with less. The quality of HPE's infrastructure supports Beyond.pl's commitment to energy efficiency and availability, and ultimately ensures that our customer’s digital transformation remains carbon neutral.
IT is approaching an exponential curve not only in technical development but also in customer expectations. The HPE GreenLake cloud services solution is a bull’s eye for where the market is trending. This new model is Beyond.pl led, HPE supported, and allows both parties the flexibility necessary to serve the needs of our shared customers.
We verify our success in our customer feedback. While this is a new solution, we have seen so many success stories already, we strongly believe it will be market standard.