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The secretive, snowballing success of Canberra Data Centres

George Nott | May 15, 2017
Further expansion ahead for Federal Government's favourite data centre.

data centre

For the last decade, Greg Boorer has not had a lot of sleep.

"The last ten years I think I've averaged about four or five hours a night," the Canberra Data Centres' CEO said at a Schneider Electric event in Sydney on Tuesday.

He's now resting a little easier. Demand for cloud, particularly within government, is booming. In last night's Budget, the government committed to "increase the uptake of cloud systems and shared IT platforms", and outlined plans for a slew of compute intensive schemes.

Government data centre outsourcing has been growing by a quarter each year for the last three years, according to L.E.K. Consulting research. Last year, the head of the Government's procurement policy and whole of government ICT services John Sheridan from the Department of Finance predicted federal government will be spending $1.1 billion a year by 2019.

A lot of that spend is coming CDC's way. According to Boorer, his company is winning around 80 per cent of all data centre government tenders.

The secret? CDC's creation of a huge ecosystem, housed within its ACT facilities.

"It's like a big snowball that's rolling and doesn't require as much energy as it once did," says Boorer. "Though I'm still not getting enough sleep..."


The biggest DC you've never heard of

CDC operates four data centres in Canberra - Fyshwick 1 which has more than 100 pods and 2,300 racks; and Hume 1, 2 and 3 boasting 80 pods and 1,600 racks. Another is currently being built at Fyshwick which will bring the company's total capacity up to 60mw.

"You might not have heard of us and that's kind of cool too," Boorer told the Schneider Electric conference audience. "Because the types of clients we have are not super keen on us having a huge, high profile. We sort of snuck up on the market a bit. And now by capacity we're just about the largest owner and operator of data centres in Australia."

Government agencies are unique clients, Boorer said. Security is an obsession and they are under more pressure than most not to make mistakes.

"If you get it wrong you're on the front page of the newspaper for a long time and careers do end," said Boorer, citing last year's Census debacle as an example.

"Government is going to need a lot of compute, a lot of storage for a long time to come. And it's only going to get harder for those guys not easier," he added.

Agencies are also demanding of their vendors. Availability and accreditation are must haves, and then there's the intensive tender process.

"Lost sleep and a bit of dramas with your family. All those things which you have to do to work all night and deliver these tenders and I'm only a little scarred. Particularly when they release them on Christmas Eve and want them back for the start of January. I'm just saying, it's not cool, but that's what they do," Boorer joked.


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