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Hiroshi Fujiwara’s venture, BroadBand Tower, was not known by this name in its initial years. The story behind the firm’s genesis is an interesting one. Fujiwara founded the Internet Research Institute (IRI) in 1996. Its mission was to commercialize academic Internet Exchange (IX), the traffic exchange point of internet providers termed as NSPIXP, which was operated by the WIDE Project. His vision took the form of reality in 1997, with Japan's first commercial IX being established as a joint venture by 16 companies, including IRI.
The next step of the mission was to set up an internet Data Center (iDC), directly connected to the IX for portal service operators and other companies that generated a high volume of traffic. In 1999, the then President of Softbank, Masayoshi Son (who also held the Yahoo! Japan Corporation as a subsidiary) presented an appealing proposal. SoftBank was trying to form a joint venture with Microsoft and Global Crossing subsidiary Global Center (second-largest iDC in the U.S. at the time), to create Asia Global Crossing (AGC). Consequently, Global Center Japan Corp (GCJ), the predecessor of BroadBand Tower, was founded in February of the year 2000 with 89 percent shares held by AGC and the remaining 11 percent by IRI.
Fujiwara was appointed as the Director representing the shareholders, with Hiroki Ohwada representing IRI as the Vice-president. The prospects for establishing Japan's first iDC company were bright. However, as fate would have it, in 2002, the dot com bubble collapsed, and multiple U.S. iDC companies went bankrupt quickly. AGC, too could not escape the catastrophe and became insolvent. Meanwhile, GCJ was in dire need of funds, and all hopes were on IRI. At IRI, there was a discussion over whether to accept a capital increase or not. The times were tough, and the equation, complex, but the then IRI Director, Masahiro Inoue, supported the capital increase, and Ohwada backed it up. As a result, IRI accepted the capital increase, and a new venture, BroadBand Tower, Inc. began as a consolidated subsidiary with 62 percent ownership. Fujiwara was appointed as the Chairman and Ohwada as the President.
Why the name, ‘BroadBand Tower,’ one would ask. “‘BroadBand Tower’ means a base for information communication on a broadband network like Tokyo Tower,” explains Fujiwara. Post its inception, BroadBand Tower functioned as the main data center for Yahoo! and other leading Japanese content providers. The company began earning profits in the Financial Year 2003, and after that, there was no looking back. The firm continued to increase both sales and profits, and in 2005, it got listed on the Osaka Securities Exchange Hercules (now the TSE JASDAQ) market.
“Unlike other data center operators that originated from telecommunication carriers, system integrators, and mainframe vendors, BroadBand Tower is the first dedicated iDC in Japan with a neutral and unique position. Technically speaking, our strength as a data center operator lies in our high-volume traffic exchange technology,” remarks Fujiwara. In particular, the clients who provide a large volume of data are especially benefitted by this data center operator. BroadBand Tower also provides connectivity services to other data centers, including AT TOKYO, which satisfies its multi-data center-oriented customers.
As the environment around the core internet data center business is perpetually changing, it has become vital to proceed with the wind. Mobile communications are changing to 5G, and the days of 4G will be ending soon. “At the same time that the information communication infrastructure is undergoing a generational transition, data centers have also plunged into the fifth generation.
BroadBand Tower is the first dedicated iDC in Japan with a neutral and unique position
Walking in line with the digital transformation trend, BroadBand Tower has set up Shin-Otemachi as the center of the internet in Japan, aiming to be a base that supports the internet infrastructure of the 5G era. The "Shin-Otemachi site" has been positioned as an information exchange base for the "4th Industrial Revolution—Industry 4.0" in which AI/IoT/Big Data/FinTech are utilized to enable flexible interconnection between client companies. The Otemachi site is looked upon with admiration by the clients of BroadBand Tower.
It offers its own C9 private cloud suitable for customization, which can be directly connected to top-notch public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud inside BroadBand Tower's data center. As such, the company's cloud services, too, are a source of delight for those customers who wish to combine the features of diverse cloud platforms into a single hybrid cloud.
With regard to storage, Broadband Tower has partnered with Dell EMC for quite some time now. This collaboration has been highly appreciated by corporate users (particularly automotive, broadcast, and medical customers) for their appliance (dedicated equipment) storage products centered around EMC Isilon. The alliance has received numerous awards for having the best maintenance service technical capabilities.
Additionally, BroadBand Tower has entered into a capital and business tie-up with Scality, a leading company in SDS (Software Defined Storage) technology. This coalition is especially beneficial for clients with ultra-high-capacity storage needs on the petabyte-scale.
With the digitization of the business world, walks in the issue of cybersecurity. To address this need, Broadband Tower has recently added cloud security service to the existing data center, cloud, and data solutions (storage) businesses. These businesses are coming together to play a role in accelerating the "connected industry" evolution, which is especially helpful in today’s COVID-19 times. The global pandemic has triggered significant changes in the work style and lifestyles of people. As a result, Broadband Tower has become the flag bearer in establishing the Super Telework Consortium, where Fujiwara is serving as Chief Director at the Internet Association Japan. This consortium is hoping to play an active role in resolving the problem of over-concentration in the Tokyo metropolitan area and contribute to regional revitalization using the data centers, cloud, storage, and cybersecurity technologies provided by the BroadBand Tower Group.
As Japan's first iDC company, BroadBand Tower raised the first cry of the nascent information communication infrastructure broadband era and has supported the internet services of many companies. "And now, we have finally reached the 20-year mark. Going forward, we hope to continue to grow further as a company that supports the DX future of many companies in the 5G era," concludes Fujiwara.