NZ secure data centres set for launch

The first of a planned chain of New Zealand-based secure data centres will go online next month and foreign firms are said to be already looking at using the network.

The first of a planned chain of New Zealand-based secure data centres will go online next month and foreign firms are said to be already looking at using the network.

Organiser and coordinator Gary Connolly of The Digital Agenda says about $3 million of equipment has arrived in Auckland from overseas and is ready to be installed in an Invercargill bank vault and at a secret “dark site” north of Auckland.

Facilities at three other sites are set for launch later this year.

The Auckland and Invercargill facilities will be pilot sites containing all of what will eventually be installed in the planned five-strong network. It will include communication between the two sites and “the necessary replication function”.

“The basis of what we are doing is storage. We are not looking at transactional data, but the total security lockdown, both physical and digital,” says Connolly.

Connolly says the equipment comes from backers including FoundryNet, EMC and Hitachi, with more to come from either Sun or Compaq. This will include gigabit switching gear.

Connolly says the venture’s people have been talking to 45 companies since September, with solid interest from five international groups. “Out of those discussions we have a very good feel of what is available, what’s been done elsewhere in the world, and what we have to do in New Zealand that has not been done before, to address the security worries across the globe,” he says.

An overseas venture capitalist is “very proactive” in the enterprise, which has a core seven-member trust, including Connolly’s own firm, Arjen De Landgraaf of Albany-based Co-Logic Security and Auckland University’s Uniservices, to run and fund the business.

Connolly says some of the software developed around the project has been proven, by the US or New Zealand military.

Both the Invercargill centre, to be run by the city’s ISP, SouthNet, and the Auckland vault will be operational within four to five weeks, he says.

Other sites will be outside CBDs, away from geothermal, seismic or other sources of interference. The sites have yet to be chosen but a hilly location in the South Island is presently being scoped for one.

Hitachi, which has its own digital vault in Auckland, will also use and supply equipment for the Auckland facility. Connolly expects the New Zealand government and military will also want to use it. “New Zealand is a perfect backup [location] as we are isolated. We are also a Western society with third world prices because our dollar is so weak. If people wanted to do this in the US and UK, it would cost three times more.”

Marc Cohen, director of Southland ISP SouthNet, had planned a smaller storage service for his customers as a “logical extension to the business”, but after speaking to Connolly he has now joined the programme and will run the Invercargill vault.

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