Can you really build a Tier 4 Data centre in New Zealand?

scenic-views-Cape-Reinga-in-WhangareiBlink and you would have missed it this week, news that a conglomerate in Northland, New Zealand, are planning on building  a “data centre [that] would be the first “Tier 4″ data centre in Australasia.” Yes really, the first in Australiasia. Well, that got my interest up, so I did some digging.

The core of the article was this:

“Northland Inc chairman Colin Mitten said he would resign from the economic development agency in June to become chief executive of Aotea Clear Cloud (ACCL) which hopes to build a state-of-the-art data centre in Marsden near Whangarei.

The proposed data centre would be the first “Tier 4″ data centre in Australasia, meaning it should be less prone to outages than even the relatively modern facilities built in New Zealand over the past few years by Datacom and IBM.” – Source

Now. They are actually right about the Tier IV system. It comes from the uptime institute and technically there is only one data centre on the planet that meets both Operational Sustainability and Constructed Facility Tier IV certifications. That is U.S. Bancorp, one of the top five financial institutions in the U.S. Certification covers both the physical site itself and it’s operation. There are a total of twelve Tier IV Constructed Facilities on the planet.

A Tier 4 data centre is not only difficult to build, it’s very very expensive. Especially in a country like New Zealand where feeder services such as power and telecommunications don’t allow the requirements to be met, i.e. dual or triple redundancy. Especially in places as remote as Whangarei. Here are the broad requirements:

  • Many distribution paths serving the ICT equipment
  • All ICT equipment dual powered
  • All HVAC dual powered
  • Total fault tolerant infrastructure that exceeds 99.995%
  • Most likely located subterranean

That kind of means three of everything and enough backup power and generation capability to keep the entire data centre running to meet that 99.995% per annum. It gives you about 26 minutes of wiggle room.

That’s not the only challenge for what is called Aotea Clear Cloud, the company that has been incorporated to pursue this. Interestingly, before we get into those challenges, it seems that the Aotea Clear Cloud site has been pulled down. Thanks to Google Cache though we can see some more of what they are claiming. Here is the Capacity Page Cached.

Why has the page been pulled down when they are getting a massive amount of media right now?

Anyway. On with the challenges.

You’re going to need diverse power with diverse power cables from diverse power operators. You’re going to need to make sure that all your facility can only suffer 26 minutes of downtime a year. You’re going to need diverse networking and you are going to need, you guessed it, another international cable. Otherwise overseas customers won’t have diversity. You’re going to need very high capacity network feeds. You ideally are going to need to bury the data centre. You’re going to have to meet requirements that only twelve data centres in the world, in massively connected metro centres, have met, plus you need to meet the operational requirements of Tier IV, of which only one company on the planet has managed.

Then there is that niggly spying issue. You know, the one where U.S. based data centres are losing business hand over fist as companies move their data out of the jurisdiction of not only them, but the Five Eyes nations. We’re seeing the same in the U.K., Canada, and Britain. So why would companies traverse their data over a Five Eyes link? You could encrypt it of course, but the Swedish Data Capital of the South Pacific, sadly we are not.

Oh, and one more thing, you really should have another geographically diverse data centre. So that would up the bill to $250 million? You can’t just have one, it’s not considered best practice at all.

Finally, we know that customers in New Zealand at least, and most likely globally, don’t appear to have a great deal of demand for Tier IV data centre services. Otherwise there would be more. Not even the big Cloud providers are on the list remember. And, we know that IBM is investing in New Zealand anew, while another multinational is going to land their Cloud services by year end. Tough market coming for all data centre providers.

There are four directors and shareholders for Aotea Clear Cloud. Tony Jelas, Harpal Mann, Colin Mitten, and Richard Dean Paris.

Tony Jelas is the director or shareholder in a number of what look to be development companies. Building in other words.

Harpal Mann is also a director of Clear Mobitel, a U.K. based company that, according to Geekzone, wanted back in 2011 to be the fourth telecommunications provider in New Zealand.

Colin Mitten is the director of a number of companies and his LinkedIn profile (assuming this is he) tags him as a Business Leader in Venture Capital & Private Equity.

Richard Dean Paris is a director of a few companies and like Tony Jelas, they seem to be in the development space. He’s also a director of Clear Mobitel.

So… A telco expert, two developers, and a venture capitalist.

It’s going to be an interesting ride…








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