Service sets data centres apart

01/04/2003 - 22:00


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While there’s no shortage of data centres in Perth, most are confident that demand for their services will grow, as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

AN increasing worldwide terrorist threat and greater awareness of the need for good disaster recovery systems has generated a demand for the services provided by data centre facilities.

Data centres operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provide state-of-the-art security. Data centres typically have uninterrupted and protected power supplies, fire protection and fire detection devices.

The use of double military glass, video surveillance, swipe cards and biometric scanning equipment, and the placement of strict restrictions on who can enter a centre, makes data centres serious computer security businesses.

Perth’s main data centres are Unysis West, Fujitsu, Perth iX, Swiftel, Rescue Technology Group, CSC Australia, HP and Kaz Computer Services.

And while this is considered a large number of operators in a market the size of Perth, most companies are confident of winning new government business following the break-up of the State Government’s two major outsourcing contracts, a component of which includes data centre facilities.

But even without government investment, increasing numbers of companies are investigating the business options, with most discovering that the point of differentiation tends to be found in service offerings and IT capabilities.

Models for most data centres tend to be price on application, largely due to the fact that data centres are part of a managed service offering.

In addition to a virtual tour, Perthix, however, lists its prices on its website, according to its business development manager Marcus Ashby.

Kaz Computer Services State manager Lagis Zavros said his business could provide greater service to its clients because it made decisions from the State level.

“The major thing for us is that we have a regional model and the decision making can be made here. We are flexible in the way we approach things,” he told WA Business News.

Unysis West manager, shared service, Les Langton said the company’s staff was trained to manage a number of different technology platforms.

“What we do is provide customers with full management services. There are 200 people working here, over 100 of those are focused on data centre service provision,” he said.

“No matter what platform is deployed we can manage them.”

Fujitsu data centre manager Chris Smith said offering two data centres was a good selling point.

“If you lose your data centre what good is it to you? You are out of business or can carry on in a reduced capacity,” he said.

Unysis West and CSC also have two data centre operations.

The data centre business is gaining momentum, in part from government projects but also from private enter-prises keen on the employment of good disaster recovery mechanisms.

Usually it is larger firms that take up housing at data centres, however some small and medium sized companies are utilising rack space at a range of data centres.

Mr Smith said Fujitsu had signed several SMEs in the past year.

“They [SMEs] have a strategy that says they are too small and don’t want to bother with the equipment and they want a flat line budget,” he said.

Mr Ashby said many small and medium sized businesses were taking up the storage option of web hosting.

“Small companies are doing that because they are not large enough to have their own [web server]. Normally a one-rack unit is $7,000,” he said.

“So for about $50 a month they can have it hosted and backed up overnight, so that if it does crash you have a back up offsite.”

Most data centres are tucked away in discrete buildings, with anonymity said to provide added security. Perth iX, however, has taken a different approach and utilised its location on 1 William Street to show off not just its facilities, but also to provide advertising space for clients.

“We allow companies to put up advertising … the companies that are more sensitive like to be at the back of the centre where it is less exposed,” Mr Ashby said.


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