Nationwide datacentre network planned to work with UFB

VIP operating in cooperation with Crown Fibre Holdings, says chief executive

Virtualisation and storage-area network specialist VIP has begun to establish 17 offices around the country, each with a datacentre, linked in a replicating fibre network. It aims to provide one of the first productive applications of the government-sponsored UFB network.

VIP (Virtualised Infrastructure Professionals) CEO Lance Warren says the company is already operating in cooperation with Crown Fibre Holdings, seeing UFB as essential to its future operation. The VIP datacentres will act as nodes of the UFB network, providing CFH with network termination services, Warren says. “Our role in UFB is multifaceted,” he says. There is no final contract with CFH at this stage, but there is a “letter of intent”.

CFH confirms such a letter has been sent but could not provide details of services agreed on by Computerworld’s press time. “We are engaging with [VIP] at the same level as any other retail service provider,” says strategy director Rohan McMahon.

Current VIP clients include 45 councils, 10 District Health Boards and the Marsden Point oil refinery, Warren says.

The network of VIP datacentres will eventually embrace 17 population centres, providing redundancy for client applications. Two or more centres distribute a customer’s data over the fibre links, keeping it constantly replicated, so in the event of failure at one centre the application will continue working without a detectable break at the other(s).

The main rationale of such a setup is to support cloud services, Warren says, though VIP has other “sidelines”; its equipment, for example, forms part of the Auckland Peering Exchange, a crucial element in economical operation of this country’s internet.

The company also expects to establish an ISP business in due course.

The typical private cloud environment is still dependent on a single, large datacentre, Warren says and this creates a “single point of failure”. A high-speed network of smaller, mutually replicating datacentres brings more security.

Having supplied a number of two-centre solutions of this kind “we decided that to keep up we needed to regionalise,” he says. The process is underway, beginning with a centre in Northland. Warren spoke with Computerworld from Hamilton, where he is overseeing the setting up of a centre. Facilities in the major cities will be Tier 4 datacentres, as classified by the US-based Uptime Institute. This class involves, for example, two completely independent power supplies as a safeguard against failure. VIP’s datacentres, Warren suggests, will be the first in this country to use 3par storage, HP’s virtualised fibre-channel storage designed for multi-tenanted use.

HP took over developer 3par last year.

Datacentres are scheduled to be set up in Wellington, New Plymouth, Napier, Wanganui and Nelson among other towns. The company plans “most of them will be finished by the end of the year,” Warren says.

The estimated $50m cost of the setup is being supported by a private investor Warren declines to name without getting his clearance first.

To cater for the expansion, VIP has been on a major recruiting drive.

Currently it has 35 staff and Warren expects as many as 200 to be on board by the end of the year.

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Tags Crown Fibre HoldingsvipcfhLance warren

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