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Data centres are the new black

Date

Lia Timson

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

One of the rack rooms at the newly opened Digital Realty data centre in Deer Park, Melbourne. It has dual power supply (blue and amber cabinets).

One of the rack rooms at the newly opened Digital Realty data centre in Deer Park, Melbourne. It has dual power supply (blue and amber cabinets). Photo: Paul Jeffers

Analysis

There’s a buzz in the air. Men and women smartly attired mingle with dignitaries, politicians.

The crowd stands around tall tables, chatting, wine glass in hand. It’s only 2 pm but waiters swerve drinks and gourmet canapé trays around the tightly-packed room. Photographers snap.

The latest art exhibition opening? A book signing perhaps? No. It's the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Australia’s latest data centre.

Welcome to the new dawn of the technology industry: data centres are the new black.

As our lives turn into a stream of digital files and our businesses into digitally-driven machines, the one common element holding it all together, is data.

Forecasters say more data will be produced in the next two years by internet-connected devices and software-enabled everything, that has been the case in history until now.

This data has to be stored, processed, served, massaged, exploited, preserved somewhere. This is where data centres come in. They are, essentially, where the cloud lives. They are at the centre of connectivity, access, delivery of the services we all demand to keep the world going around.

As Pip Marlow, managing director Microsoft Australia, says, “it’s a whole new exciting trend”.

“A data centre used to be the corner closet in the IT dept. Now they have finger printing, almost DNA testing to get in.”

This particular opening is Digital Realty’s second-phase Deer Park complex in Melbourne, on Thursday November 21.

The $150 million 8690-square metre facility is but one project in $600 million invested in new data centres in Victoria alone in the last 18 months. Sydney has its share too – NextDC had its newest facility, also a $150 million investment, opened by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Macquarie Park in Sydney in September. Brisbane and Perth have also benefited from new facilities. Many more data centres are in the pipeline.

At this new state-of-the-art architect-designed complex, finger printing combined with keycard scanning is used as one of five security layers for entry into rack rooms. Security is tight at the door too. Some data centres don’t even disclose their location, so concerned they and their tenants are with keeping their assets out of harm’s way.

The National Australia Bank occupies the first phase of the complex entirely. This new building doesn't yet have confirmed tenants.

Mike Foust, chief executive of US-based Digital Realty, in Melbourne for the occasion, says more and more companies, and people, are moving to the cloud.

“In the last 18 to 24 months we’re seeing content pick up – files, family photographs, videos, are now stored in the cloud. The medium market and small businesses are also embracing the cloud very readily,” Foust says.

Enterprise and government clients are now realising cloud plans formulated two or three years ago – whether they chose to go with the public cloud (from service providers such as Amazon Web Services), private cloud (one hosted just for them by a third party) or a hybrid solution.

The latest DatacentreDynamics Global Census shows $US105 billion was invested in the sector in 2012, 22.1 per cent more than the year before. The forecast was for another 14.5 per cent growth in 2013. “White space” – the floor area which houses IT equipment – is forecast to grow from 26 million square metres in 2012 to 31 million square meters worldwide this year.

In Asia Pacific, data centre investment was up 24.2 per cent in 2012, forecast to grow similarly in 2013.

Is it the new light at the end of the economic downturn tunnel? After all data centres don’t employ many people once the building is completed.

Victoria Minister for IT, Gordon Rich-Phillips – on hand for the formalities at Deer Park - thinks it’s a good economic driver.

He’s been courting data centre landlords and operators to locate their facilities in the state, albeit without any specific tax or monetary incentive, he says.

“We see ICT as a critical sector, one of our great growth opportunities… also an important driver of productivity in our economy, innovation and also of efficiency,” Rich-Phillips says.

“This investment by Digital Realty is a fantastic commitment. It highlights why this is such an important sector for the ICT industry and why there is such a future in data centre development in Victoria.”

Later, as groups of guests tour the facility’s roof to inspect massive generators, impressive transformers and weather stations, Melbourne’s notoriously varied climate turns the day from overcast to glaringly sunny.  No problem for organisers. In keeping with the tone of the red-carpet event, a staffer has a bag of sunglasses at the ready.

10 comments

  • Is there a disaster recovery site???

    Commenter
    Generalzod
    Location
    Gymea Bay
    Date and time
    November 22, 2013, 5:27PM
    • Yes, its in the cloud

      Commenter
      daz
      Date and time
      November 24, 2013, 8:26AM
  • Data centres don't necessarily employ many staff onsite however it takes a lot of professionals to manage servers, operating systems, virtualisation, applications, networking and backups, particularly when each individual client will have their own staff working remotely.

    Nice facility with great security. Pity however that many Australian businesses have outsourced their requirements to foreign providers who cannot be security cleared. While Aussies are being fingerprinted, service providers get free reign.

    Commenter
    Industry Hipocracy
    Location
    Feet on the ground
    Date and time
    November 22, 2013, 8:15PM
    • And no fiber for the masses to move the data around

      Commenter
      Al
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 22, 2013, 9:13PM
      • Would areas with FTTP be more likely to have these?

        If so, the FTTN plan probably isn't a good idea.

        Commenter
        boyo
        Date and time
        November 23, 2013, 1:03AM
        • Wow. Another datacentre, and it's got a fingerprint scanner. Was there a purpose to this article?

          Commenter
          Marty
          Date and time
          November 23, 2013, 8:33AM
          • there is a data center being built in malaga, western australia, looks like something of a si-fi movie...very protected from intrusion......cooling systems that could cool a nuclear feactor...
            and will be full of our info for big brother to sell to highest bidder....

            Commenter
            skeptic
            Location
            perth
            Date and time
            November 23, 2013, 9:00AM
            • As an older IT professional, call me cynical but ".....We see ICT as a critical sector, one of our great growth opportunities.." I'm not sure that shutting down existing in house computer rooms, making the support staff redundant, consolidating the infrastructure into massive centres owned my overseas multinationals, run by less staff and administered by overseas administrators can be classified as growth. Before I get flamed, my company has just moved to a new data centre, so I know the benefits, and most importantly the cost savings. I just don't think it bodes well for IT employment in the future in this country...

              Commenter
              Outsourced
              Location
              Oblivion
              Date and time
              November 24, 2013, 3:00PM
              • Outsourced - Exactly.

                Commenter
                Al
                Location
                Melbourne
                Date and time
                November 24, 2013, 3:50PM
            • I used to work in a datacentre for a major supermarket chain until my job was outsourced overseas...

              Commenter
              Generalzod
              Location
              Gymea bay
              Date and time
              November 26, 2013, 3:18PM
              Comments are now closed
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