IBM opens $80m data centre in New Zealand


IBM is confident its $80 million datacentre south of Auckland will reach 150 percent capacity in the next 18 months.  This bullish prediction was made by Greg Farmer, IBM GM for global technology services, at the official opening of the datacentre at the Highbrook Business Park today.

The facility was due to be opened by Prime Minister John Key in March, but was put on hold after the Christchurch earthquake.  The centre allows for companies to securely store and access digital information, removing the need for them to own and maintain computer servers.

IBM New Zealand’s managing director Jennifer Moxon said the centre would help foster business innovation. “As economy continues to grow, IBM’s data centre will provide a platform for businesses to drive increased efficiencies, improved productivity and greater innovation,” Moxon said.

The 5200 sq metre facility includes a 1500 sq metre column-free raised floor accommodating 720 server racks. There are plans to double capacity by building an identical facility so that the company is able to meet demand for datacentre services for the next 15 years.

Farmer says they have signed up 13 clients, two are new and two are from offshore businesses. He is only able to publically name two clients – First Mortgage Services and Localist (the NZ Post subsidiary). IBM has also signed up Maclean Computing as its channel partner. Maclean will offer IBM Virtual Server Services to the mid-sized market, which Farmer describes as companies with up to 500 IT users

The datacentre has also been built to appeal to the high end of the market. IBM is one of four suppliers that have been short-listed to provide datacentre housing and utility computing and storage services to government agencies under the Infrastructure-as-a-service contract announced last year (the others listed are Datacom, Gen-i and Revera).

Farmer says that the centre was planned five years ago, long before the IaaS contract was thought of, but clearly the datacentre will help with IBM’s bid. “If you don’t have a facility like this you won’t have the ability to access that level of client, it’s kind of mandatory base requirement.”

The Highbrook facility is rated an IBM reliability Level 3+ datacentre. The IBM levels loosely map the Tier system that has been developed by the US-based Uptime Institute. Farmer says it is not possible to build a Level 4 (the highest level) centre in New Zealand because the “power supply doesn’t permit separate and disparate paths of power.” He says power comes from the south so one of the reasons for building the datacentre in Highbrook is that it is situated at the start of the power supply to Auckland.

Even so, IBM have been careful to guard against power outages. There are three sources of power to the floor – mains, battery and generator, Farmer says. “Should you lose one then the other backs up the other one very quickly.”

NZICT group chief executive Brett O’Riley said the centre was a good example of where information technology is going. “The IBM data centre reinforces the importance of green ICT for New Zealand in seeking to host data nationally, and for major international players. Coupled with planned new international connectivity, New Zealand will now have an extremely compelling proposition,” O’Riley said.

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