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Tech-savvy at Savvis

Regional growth provides job opportunities at firm’s new data centres in HK

In November this year, the IT services company Savvis will open a large new data centre in Hong Kong’s Tseung Kwan O district. The facility will supplement its other centres around the region and significantly expand its offering in Asia. “If you look at the space available, the Hong Kong facility will basically double our Asia footprint,” says Mark Smith, managing director of Savvis Asia. “We’re really making a big push in Hong Kong.”

A subsidiary of the US telecommunications company CenturyLink, Savvis provides managed hosting, managed network services and other IT services. It is currently seeing a rapidly growing demand for these services. “The overall market is really expanding,” Smith says. “Companies are increasingly outsourcing more and more of their mission-critical IT to Savvis and to CenturyLink.”

There is an especially fast-growing demand for outsourced IT services in Asia. This demand mostly comes from the increasing numbers of US and other international companies moving into the region. While these companies might have established IT support domestically, Smith says, they often lack this when they set up offices overseas, meaning they need to outsource. Savvis is looking to capitalise on this growing demand.

“We see a real opportunity to support the growth of CenturyLink Enterprise customers in the US as they look to expand in Asia and Greater China,” Smith says.

Savvis plans to significantly develop its presence in Asia, using the new funds provided by its 2011 merger with the US telecommunications giant CenturyLink. Its Asian expansion is focused on what it considers to be the region’s main financial cities. “We’re building a platform for growth, which is ‘four plus two’,” Smith says. “The four are the main financial centres today in Asia – Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney – and the ‘plus two’ is India and China.”

Smith says Savvis currently has a full breadth of services in Tokyo, as well as in Singapore, where it opened a second data centre last year. Its footprint in Sydney is currently quite small, but it is looking at more investment there.

The new Hong Kong data centre is a key part of the company’s expansion plans. Smith says that Savvis chose to open the centre here because of the huge opportunities created by the number of companies doing business in Asia – especially mainland China – through Hong Kong.

“We see the Greater China opportunity as being very significant and exciting. Hong Kong is a fantastic starting point, a gateway into China,” he says. “We believe there’s a lot of demand from multinational companies looking to do business in China and the rest of Asia, using Hong Kong as their technology base. So for us to be here in a significant way makes a lot of sense.”

Savvis is recruiting extensively for its new data centre. It currently employs around 30 people in Hong Kong and plans to expand this to around 50 employees by the start of next year. It may also continue recruiting after this.

“We’ll get to 50 no matter what, because we need that based on the investment,” Smith says. “And then it becomes very much demand-led. As we grow our customer base, we will need more people to support that growth.”

The company is primarily looking to hire engineering and operations staff to support the centre’s technology and the rollout of new products. It is also looking for pre-sales engineers to work with sales executives and help with customer engagement, as well as recruiting a number of sales and marketing staff to help expand its customer base.

Smith says now is a good time to work in the IT services industry because the market for these services is growing fast. This growth provides lots of good career opportunities.

“We’re looking at very substantial growth in the industry. There’s a very clear macro trend of enterprises continuing to outsource IT services, and that trend is going to continue for the next five years at least. As an individual, what you are looking for is growth, because with growth will come opportunity, not just for the business but for you personally.”

Within the industry, Smith says Savvis is a particularly good company to work for. Its status as one of the leading providers of IT services, together with the significant investments it has made, means it can really take advantage of the industry’s growth.

“Savvis is incredibly well placed to take market share,” he says. “We have a very strong capability in terms of providing data centres. Then, in terms of managed hosting and cloud infrastructure as a service, year after year we’re rated as one of the leading providers.”

Another thing which makes Savvis a good company to work for, Smith says, is the opportunities it gives employees to develop their skills. “One thing that Savvis does really well is the training that it offers,” he says. “A lot of our employees are engineers, so they need to keep their skills up to date in order to be able to continue to contribute to our customers. We have very strong online tools for our employees to continue to certify themselves with the latest technology.”

Smith says working for Savvis can also be very rewarding. Employees have the satisfaction and motivation of knowing the IT services that they provide greatly benefit the companies using them and these companies’ customers.

“What we deliver to our customers, it really does change how they serve their customers and do their business,” he says. “We’re all about helping our customers succeed. Having a purpose and a very positive impact on our customers is something I think people enjoy.”


Mark Smith explains some of the attributes he looks for in job candidates
The right attitude “First and foremost, [I look for people] who have a positive attitude and high energy, who are solutions-orientated and flexible.”
Experience in the role “Second would be their functional skill set – a bit of experience in the functions. So a sales executive should have a proven and successful sales record; an engineer should have a certain amount of successful project experience.”
Industry knowledge “The third thing is IT industry knowledge, but it’s third for a reason. Candidates don’t have to come in as experts on the cloud or the latest technology. With the right attitude and the right background, we can train them.”