Thanks to the raft of aging legacy systems, datacenter space in Canberra is at an all time premium, although there is hope in sight with a number of major projects about to come online and ameliorate the shortage.
The first cab off the rank will be a new Tier 1 data centre set to be launched in late May, by the Canberra Datacentres consortium. Located in the industrial suburb of Hume, the new Datacentre is only the first in a series of installations which will be progressively rolled out by the group.
“Within a lot of government departments legacy datacentres are already operating at full capacity, so there is a critical need right now for many departments to look for hosting,” explained Maree Lowe, who’s technology company ASI holds a 50 percent stake in the project.
Having taken more than 12 months to complete, the Canberra Datacentres installation involved the refitting of two existing buildings with power, cabling and security and has already attracted the attention of a number of government departments. Located on a high-speed power link, the Canberra Datacentres project offers customers a fully hosted solution, or the opportunity to install their own servers on ready-to-go racks.
“The message we’re getting from customers is loud and clear. Demand for datacenters is exploding, because the cost and risk of running legacy equipment is just too high,” Lowe says. “There is an immediate demand for datacentre space because the existing ones are at full capacity, and need to be upgraded before they can operate efficiently.”
On the other side of the city Canberra-based Tretecnic is set to launch its datacentre live in the first half of 2009, but will focus on managing the environment rather than actually hosting the data.
“What we offer is the datacentre DNA, we provide the facility management, power and security, but they manage their own equipment,” James explained. “We don’t tinker with the technology, we just focus on running the infrastructure.”
The Tretecnic offering will be spread across 10,000 square metres in two modern buildings in the suburb of Mitchell, and will target local demand.
“The issue for the modern CIO is to manage his/her IT&T risks and achieve a balance between separation, distance, access and cost,” James says. “Tretecnic have designed a local offering to meet this balance.”
A third party looking to launch a new data centre offering into the data-starved Canberra market is Technical Real Estate.
However, according to Technical Real Estate director Bruce McEwen the company plans to extend its reach beyond the ACT, pointing out that the shortage in processing power is nationwide.
“Most of the existing datacentres have been built for a specific set of technical requirements, and they are just not designed to meet the requirements of today’s computer technology,” McEwen said. “In many cases they are situated in high-risk locations, or they were built for low power and low cooling requirements which will increase dramatically once more equipment is installed.”
As part of the Canberra Technology City (CTC) consortium, Technical Real Estate is awaiting planning approval for the construction of $1 billion project in Canberra, which will feature 13 datacentres, built using technology from UK-based Galileo Connect. Pending approval the first of the datacentres is set to come online in September 2008, with the remainder to be completed over the ensuing 5 years.
CSC Australia’s managed computing services director Danny Willmott takes this notion one step further, saying supply of datacentre space is not keeping up with demand on an international level. He suggests Australian customers will increasingly be forced to compete with international players.
“The cost overhead of network links out of Australia is rapidly shrinking, allowing lower labour and other cost items to make it cost effective to migrate data and processing to Australia, although the value proposition is being somewhat eroded by the increasing value of the Australian dollar,” Willmott says. “In CSC's case, the demand stems from our existing customer base in Australia, but also North America, Europe and Asia. We are seeing annual storage growth well in excess of 100% compound.”
Although he says CSC is currently keeping up with its existing customer demand, Willmott believes supply may become an issue as the cost of international network links comes down, and Australian datacentres become a more realistic option for governments and corporations throughout the world.
“Political, social and geographic stability, a lower cost base and the decreasing cost of telecommunications are all making Australia an attractive place to store and process data,” offered Willmott.