Primus adds Canadian data centre strategy

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Primus Business Services on Monday opened up two of a project four additional Canadian data centres to meet the demand for managed security, storage and Web hosting.

The two facilities are based in Toronto and Ottawa, but the company said it is still scouting for the next two data centres, which would open early next year. Primus already runs a 12,000 sq. ft. data centre in Ottawa, a 5,000 sq. ft. location in Toronto and another 5,000 sq. ft. facility in Vancouver. Primus said the new 12,000 sq. ft. Toronto data centre is located in the downtown core and includes 8,000 sq. ft. of raised floor, while the new 18,000 sq. ft. Ottawa facility will feature a total of 15,000 square feet of raised floor. Both will be completed in phases. The data centres will likely use biometric security in the form of iris scanning, though at least one other location had used a fingerprint reader instead.

Primus Business Services senior vice-president A.J. Byers said the need to scale up became apparent shortly after Primus acquired Ottawa-based service provider Magma Communications in 2004. “That led us to provide a more full-service offering,” he said.

While Primus has started to see more customer interest in blade servers and virtualization to increase utilization and reduce their footprint, those technologies come with their own set of IT infrastructure challenges, Byers said.

“There’s a catch-22. As computing becomes more dense, the processing power per square foot becomes higher,” he said. “You start to run into the challenge of trying to cool the infrastructure. It’s actually not space you run out of in data centres, it’s power.”

Primus is addressing that challenge by building in double the density of power per square foot of its earlier data centres, Byers said. Both facilities also support liquid cooling rather than air conditioning directly to the individual server cabinets, use “green transformers,” economizers in the cooling system and built-in motion sensors in the lighting system. Primus claims these features can reduce hydro power consumption and wasted power by 50 per cent or more.

Earlier this year, Toronto-based Q9 Networks also opened an additional data centre for providing managed services in Calgary. Osama Arafat, Q9’s CEO, said power and cooling was a very important part of expanding its infrastructure.

“In the selection of the site, we make sure there’s incoming power,” he said. “We also build our own cooling systems.”

Byers acknowledged that other managed service providers are expanding, and said elements like HVAC, gas fire suppression, and a multi-homed network for 100 per cent uptime will help the firm stand out among competitors.

“The data centre industry hasn’t changed a lot in the last five-to-to seven years,” he said. “The biggest thing that companies need to be looking at is whether they’re working with someone who can adapt to the new needs of computing. A lot of companies get in and realize their provider can’t support them.”

Each facility needs six to seven full-time staff in addition to the managed services staff, Byers said. In total, the additional facilities will likely support the addition of about 12-15 people.

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