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Data centre infrastructure boost for Townsville digital industry

Data Centre - Townsville City Council facility at James Cook University

North Queensland Regional Data Centre

Townsville City Council (TCC) and James Cook University (JCU) have signed off on a cornerstone lease agreement on the newly constructed North Queensland Regional Data Centre (NQRDC) after entering a partnership agreement last year.

The TCC and JCU have been seeking out operators for the new facility as the Malcolm Turnbull federal government signed the first Smart City Deal with Townsville Mayor Cr Jenny Hill and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Dec 2016.

In announcing the alliance, JCU’s vice chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said, “The data centre will be a key piece of economic and digital infrastructure that will support both council’s future data centre needs and provide high quality services in the local community for other users, including JCU and prospectively State Government agencies, Defense and local business.”

“There are a number of potentially viable business models that could be used to deliver the NQRDC and experienced operators will also bring their own appetite to invest in the local market. This project will catalyse significant local digital capability development.”

Optus and Schneider Electric have committed to supporting the Data Centre as part of a joint consortium bid with iSeek, a Queensland based company.

Optus has also been awarded the contract with the federal government and Council on the Smart City Deal to implement the Internet of Things (IoT) network, which has been the target of cyber-crime and terrorism across the world.

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The data centre will store critical information of strategic value collected initially from civil infrastructure such as water, waste, roads, bridges and equipment as well as personal data from digital users as the new age system matures.

TCC’s announcement of the JCU lease being signed said, “Townsville has positioned itself to attract more high-tech businesses and innovative jobs after Townsville City Council and James Cook University today agreed to underpin the North Queensland Regional Data Centre.”

“The energy-efficient Tier 3 managed data centre, which will be built in a Category 5 Cyclone rated building, will allow global companies such as banks, information technology and knowledge services companies to locate facilities in the North.”

Mayor Cr Jenny Hill said, “This critical infrastructure will cement the city’s reputation as a leader in regional Australia.”

“Both Council and JCU have worked collaboratively to ensure the Data Centre will be built in Townsville and the benefits be spread locally.”

Both organisations have signed an agreement to be anchor tenants for the Data Centre, which will also provide services – such as cloud storage – to local businesses.

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Ms. Harding said, “James Cook University has identified a need for a Data Centre to meet our own needs, and we are delighted to be signing on as anchor tenants for this project.”

“We hope that this project will be a catalyst for the future growth of the digital economy in the region,” Professor Harding said.

The new data centre comes on the back of JCU’s $ 1 billion investment in the Discovery Rise development in 2013, which included a contract with Anittel to build a temporary multi-storey cloud storage facility as the largest data centre in North Queensland.

JCU has been working with two data centres on its campus and had called for a modular data centre that could be portable, relocating where capacity demands. But as JCU does not have the retained skills to manage a modern data centre, a totally outsourced data centre facility has been an option. The existing data centre at JCU has an end of life of 2019.

However, the Tier III data facility with N+1 availability that was chosen by TCC and JCU is still susceptible to outages if an unplanned activity such as operator error or spontaneous failures of infrastructure occurs.

A Tier 4 data centre is fault-tolerant and allows for unplanned activity while still maintaining operations.

Nevertheless, the Tier III data centre ensures 99.982% uptime, no more than 1.6 hours downtime per year and the N+1 fault tolerance ensures 72 hours of power outage protection.

Townsville City Council coordinated the Expression of Interest process for the development of the new NQRDC facility which closed in April 2017.

The global market for modular data centres has grown from $8.4 billion in 2015 to an anticipated $35.1 billion by 2020. 

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Aaron M, Editior
Aaron is the founder and editor of TREN eMagazine with 15 years experience in the real estate industry investing and helping investors seek value, leverage value and capitalise on value, developing professional and technical skills and capabilities that have enabled his success in business from startups, adoption, asset growth, management and community leadership projects. Aaron also loves travelling, sports, his partner Jodie and helping people discover their "why" and find their few "what's" in life that realise the "wows. The " www" in is one of his why, what and wow's that strive to add valuable content and analysis for readers to participate and win.

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