NZ datacentres 'irresponsible', says Revera chief

There are perhaps just 25 true datacentres in New Zealand, the rest are just rooms with computers, says Wayne Norrie

Most New Zealand datacentre investment is irresponsible in terms of location, sustainability and management, says Revera chief executive Wayne Norrie.

“It’s 1980s style. Current redevelopment shows phone exchanges dressed up as datacentres. In Wellington, some are on the waterfront or on the ninth floor in the CBD and unable to cope with dense computing.

“Much of New Zealand’s datacentre backbone is anatomically flawed.”

Norrie says there are perhaps just 25 true datacentres in New Zealand, but “more than 100” organisations will claim they have one. “They’re just rooms with computers.”

Revera recently rolled out its first customer on its new Type R3 high-density platform in Auckland. The city’s North Shore City Council, which had earlier signed a three-year ICT services platform, has migrated 146 servers and more than 100 applications onto the platform.

“We were able to put all those servers into one cabinet,” says Revera co-founder Roger Cockayne.

“With high density, we can get 20,000 copies of Windows, for example, in one room, rather than 300 copies.”

The Type R platform is based round physical pods. These are able to more efficiently manage the massive amounts of hot air generated by blade servers. The pods are built to specification overseas and assembled in New Zealand. Climate control and associated power design remove hot spots and reduce the amount of energy required to maintain the climate. Pressurised cold air is also forced through the front of the server racks at an appropriate speed.

Revera has been investigating taking out a local patent on its design, which allows blades to continue functioning during the critical period between a power outage and an in-house generator kicking in.

Cockayne says a global patent is probably not feasible because originality is hard to prove. “Do we call it a business secret or a patent?” The company is currently taking specialist advice regarding the issue.

The company’s Wellington datacentre, in Tawa, will be converted to R3 over the next few months. Revera drew up its design for cooling blades in June last year and offered it to several air-conditioning companies. Only one responded.

“No one had done this before — we can stack blades, rather than spread them,” says Cockayne.

R3 is the first iteration of the technology. R2 will use an external water tower, rather than coolant, to exchange heat. R1 will use a swimming pool to harvest the heat.

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