Featured Telehouse Partner: Darren Wu of the Shanghai Data Center
Darren Wu was a presenter at Data Center Dynamics last week in Chicago.
We had the chance to talk after the conference to discuss what he does at Telehouse Shanghai and the exciting growth that’s going on right now in China.
Shanghai is the largest Data Center market in China and very much in demand.
As the Corporate Sales Supervisor for KDDI Group/Telehouse at the Telehouse Shanghai Data Center, Darren focuses on helping foreign companies get their networks and data in place. We asked him about the ways his team is helping companies get established in that market from a telecom perspective.
His first challenge was mastering the English language.
Darren is now fluent in English. In fact, he actually teaches it on the weekends. Darren also likes to stay fit. He works out at the gym, boxes once a week and he’s a Chicago Bulls fan.
First of all, Darren, your English is impeccable.
Can you tell me how you developed your fluency?
Well, when I started learning English about 12 years ago I didn’t do well at first. In fact, I failed almost every English test the first year.
It was so frustrating. I seriously doubted if I had the talent to learn another language. You may not know this, but in China, English is a compulsory subject for college entrance exams.
Thankfully, I had a good friend who really, really inspired me to stick with it. Without her, I would never speak with the proficiency I have today.
She was right. English has become one of my strong points. I’ve won national English speech competition awards and it has helped me in business.
I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you actually teach English. You’ve come a long way. How did you begin?
I thought that since I now had the ability to speak English, why not help others?
I understand the struggle involved. I wanted to be there to inspire people—just like I was inspired in my early days.
After all, English isn’t only a language. It can be the tool you use to explore a bigger world.
I always tell my new students, if I can do it, you can do it too. I have been there. I know what it feels like.
Some want to deal with tests in school. Some want to perform better in foreign companies they are working for or they want to work for.
Some want better TOFEL/IELTS scores in order to apply for further education overseas.
This is basically why I choose to teach English on weekends. Plus I can make a little fun money out of it…Why not? Am I talking too much about this? I always do when people ask why I teach.
Getting Your Network Online
What do you do at Telehouse?
To sum it up, I help Telehouse customers with colocation services. I also monitor and report server status. This takes up the bulk of my time and is a major part of what I do here in Shanghai. It can involve helping customers with procurement of their hardware, or construction of Systems Integration.
Let’s talk about compliance side of the steps to getting a network up and running in China.
We are the largest foreign Data Center provider in China. As a Telehouse data center, we strive to maintain the highest global standards for Data Center practices. That said, when a business comes to Shanghai it must comply with government regulations.
Read more about Doing Business in China: Taming The Dragon
That involves providing the telecom carriers with highly detailed information about everything you’re planning on doing.
They might ask:
- What kind of data will be transferred?
- Who will you connect with?
- What are you trying to do?
The thing with government applications is there are so many questions.
The paperwork process is quite lengthy. Companies need to be prepared for this and allow a cushion of time.
Financial Considerations of Working in China
The second challenge in working with the major carriers in China is bandwidth. When customers looking to enter the Chinese market ask me for 100 Megabits, the price is higher than they expect.
I usually have to explain that there’s much more government involvement in this market. It’s necessary to adjust price in order to do business.
I would, however, say that bandwidth is more expensive across the board in Asia Pacific. So that’s not just exclusive to China.
Partnering is Essential
I’ve heard that business in China is all about relationships. What are the must-haves in forming relationships there?
First and foremost, you must choose the right partners. Partners are required from a regulation standpoint, and honestly it’s just common sense.
This holds true no matter what your business is, but especially it’s especially true with regard to your data center. You need a Data Center partner familiar with other businesses in the Chinese market, and one that offers a complete solution. Working with one company makes managing your IT infrastructure much easier no matter where you are
From a cultural perspective, the way things are done is very different. I would recommend reading up on this. There are quite a few complexities involved, and there’s a good deal of cultivating friendships outside of the work place. It takes time to earn trust in a business relationship here.
I can’t speak for other Data Centers, but in Shanghai we’re fine from a communication standpoint. We have strong fluency in Chinese, and of course Japanese, and English.
Customers have access to translation services through network operations and KDDI. That’s 24/7 Chinese and English language services. We also offer Japanese language services on weekdays.
Customers based in other countries and different times zones have round-the-clock phone access to Chinese—English services.
The local Data Centers are a different story.
Fluency helps customers navigate technical terms—technology and data have precise requirements.
That’s difficult in Chinese, but in English even more so. The results of not having the ability to fully communicate can be disastrous, especially when negotiating contracts.
What are some trends you’re seeing in your customer base right now?
As far as the customer base, the big trend is where our customers are coming from. I see a lot more English-speaking companies, especially from the US.
Security is a priority for US companies, particularly in the financial sector. Telehouse is the most secure foreign Data Center provider in China1
Incidentally, Eric Schmidt just announced today at TechCrunch, that Google is coming back to China soon.
You’re pretty current on the news; anything else?
During President Xi’s visit to the US just a few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg asked Xi to give his newly born child a Chinese name (as Zuckerberg’s wife is Chinese), but Xi politely refused, saying this is too much of a responsibility.
- The National Security Department of China responsible for this certification.