Second Geraldton centre delayed

17/03/2014 - 12:02

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SPECIAL REPORT: Plans for a second data centre in the Mid West are behind schedule after personnel changes at the company behind the development.

Second Geraldton centre delayed
Former IBM employee Peter Marklew has joined Market Creations to develop a major new data centre in Geraldton. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Plans for a second data centre in the Mid West are behind schedule after personnel changes at the company behind the development.

The developers of Geraldton’s first enterprise-grade data centre are pushing ahead with plans for a subsequent $5 million facility despite significant delays to the project.

Geraldton-based marketing and technology firm Market Creations established subsidiary business, Geraldton Data Centre, in 2012 to develop the state’s first regional commercial data centre.

Its first facility – a $2 million centre in the old Commonwealth Bank building – went live in November 2013, with about 25 per cent of its capacity already sold.

Market Creations had intended to have a second data centre at the Geraldton Airport Technology Park, costing upwards of $5 million, go live early in 2014, but managing director Darren Lee told Business News construction was still some way off.

“We had some personnel changes mid-way through last year and had to go back and find the right people to lead the project going forward,” Mr Lee said.

The changes included the departure of Paul Newman, who was recruited from his Perth company, Technology Support Services, to lead Geraldton Data Centre as project manager in 2012.

Mr Lee said that relationship ended in April last year when Market Creations and Mr Newman “parted ways”.

Market Creations has since enlisted three new employees to progress the project, including former IBM employee Peter Marklew, who was already involved with the company through IBM contracts on the initial phase.

Mr Marklew said he had decided to leave IBM and was then offered the position of technical and sales manager at the Geraldton Data Centre.

“At that stage I had a couple of other opportunities, however due to the unique and challenging opportunity that the Geraldton Data Centre presented, along with its regional and WA focus, I agreed to a six-month initial engagement to deliver the initial stage of the project,” Mr Marklew told Business News.

Mr Marklew became a full-time employee in January.

Mr Lee said the addition of Mr Marklew was a boost for Geraldton Data Centre’s planned facility at technology park, which was still progressing despite the staffing setback.

“[The delay] was about getting the environment here right and then getting back out to the market and getting ourselves ready for stage two,” he said.

The company announced in July last year that IBM had signed a multi-million dollar design and construct agreement for the facility.

Mr Lee said the design phase had been completed and the company would push the button on construction once the first data centre had reached its capacity, which he hoped would happen this year.

“That will activate our next investment (hopefully) in the second half of this year at the Geraldton Technology Park,” he said.

“What we want to do is get to a point where we’ve got an anchor tenant that will give us the green light to go.”

While the facility’s business case is based on the increasing economic development in the Mid West, it would also serve to provide disaster recovery services for companies across the state and, potentially, Australia.

Perth companies storing data in the metro area have limited options for secondary storage locations as a backup to their primary storage arrangement. The Geraldton centre has been pitched as an answer to that problem.

The initial data centre is small compared to large centres in the WA market, with enough space for up to about 10 racks of equipment.

The second centre would be built with space for 30 to 60 racks initially with scalable expansion up to 120 racks, but Mr Marklew said it would have a significant focus on cloud computing, which made rack space less important.

The facility will be modular and expandable as and when demand required, much like Nextgen Network’s new Metronode data centre in Shenton Park.

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