Verizon boosts federal data centre capacity

By Julian Bajkowski and Paul Hemsley

Suppliers of data centre services to the federal government are conspicuously boosting their capacity ahead of the May Budget amid growing expectations that Canberra-based agencies will look to various models of cloud computing to slash infrastructure costs and improve performance.

Verizon, an entrenched player in the secure government data centre market, has become the latest provider to trumpet its bolstered offerings announcing that its Fyshwick facility will now double in capacity, a move that clearly anticipates an increase in future demand.

“The Fyshwick expansion will meet both current and future demand for data centre space in Canberra,” said John Karabin, Verizon’s area vice president for Australia and New Zealand.

According to the company the expanded facility provides services including co-location, managed security services, secure gateways, virtual hosting, secure Internet gateway and identity management services as well as connecting to the federal government’s ICON fibre network.

The gradual rise in new data centre capacity vying for federal business in Canberra is certain to be welcomed by government customers.

Many government clients were forced to endure a protracted shortage of capacity after a campaign in 2008 billion led by then Australian Capital Territory local government representative Zed Seselja that successfully thwarted the construction by Technical Real Estate of a $2 billion data centre facility in Tuggeranong.

The abandoned facility would have also have provided a gas-fired 100 megawatt co-generation plant to balance out peak loads in the city’s then notoriously fragile electricity supply.

Verizon’s new Fyshwick facility is located on the perimeter of south Canberra’s designated industrial precinct which has, over the years, become a haven for pornography supermarkets, licensed brothels and strip-joints that sit cheek-by-jowl with more mainstream retailers and businesses.

For those trying to pinpoint Verizon’s new Canberra facility, Google Maps informatively places it between and to the rear of the “xxx Adult Shop” and the “Adam and Eve Adult Super Store” on Fyshwick’s Gladstone street – backing onto the Molonglo river.

The selection of Fyshwick, which is prime industrial real-estate, underscores the pressure that data-centre developers continue to face in Canberra as the city’s population continues to expand and claim greenfields sites for suburban development in what is a naturally restricted market.

The issue of data centre supply in the ACT became a critical issue following the publication of the Department of Finance’s Gershon Review that imposed a moratorium on government purchasing until a new data-centre strategy was devised, a move that put a temporary handbrake on new builds.

Since then the Department of Finance has made substantial headway in devising a cloud computing strategy that will let government agencies save money and increase the productivity of their information technology operations that represent one of the biggest operational line items in government operational expenditure.

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