Primus centres in on Vancouver

PRIMUS Canada recently opened up an Internet data centre in Vancouver, geared towards small and medium businesses, in order to gain a foothold in the highly competitive Western Canadian telecom market.

The building, covering 2,200 square feet of storage space, complete with anti-static 12 inch-raised floors, full storage cabinets providing 44U space and two dedicated 15 Amp circuits, complements PRIMUS’ other data centres in Toronto and Ottawa.

The data centre, which provides continual online back-up, security and storage systems for enterprises dependent on networking, is labeled a “class A” data centre with diverse paths for fibre into the building, fire suppression networks and back-up diesel generator features. The building also includes earthquake sensitive features, such as a base-isolation platform and Iso-Base earthquake sensitive cabinets.

A.J. Byers, senior vice-president, business services with PRIMUS Canada, says the main objective of the new facility is to offer a location for Western customers and to leverage PRIMUS’ business services in the Western market.

“The Vancouver data centre is very similar to our facilities in Ottawa and Toronto. The Vancouver centre allows us to offer a complete product line nationally. It seemed to be more of a struggle to get into the Western market when the data centres were both in Ontario,” Byers says.

The Vancouver facility has an extensive list of supporting features: a security system that requires a two-factor authentication process, including security cards and biometric fingerprint identification; networked security cameras and archived visitor movements; Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems; a steady input feed of 208 volts to the server room; and environmental and fire control systems.

“The facility is smaller, more geared towards the one-server to five-cabinet customer. We’re not going after the hundred-cabinet customer, and we’re essentially giving them a place that would be as reliable as any of the other larger integrators are to the enterprise space. We’re running that same reliability and uptime for the SME,” Byers says.

The data centre’s technical features offer up highly sophisticated tools to manage and protect business data: redundant multi-honed Internet backbone with DS-3, IC-3 and Gigabit Ethernet connections with BPG-4 routing protocol, aggregate backbone bandwidth of 3.8Gbps, redundant power and backup generators, advanced climate control systems and 24/7 technical support.

Some of the services offered at the data centre include managed firewalls, VPN, backups, server administration, load balancing, switch service and monitoring “Customers can bring their servers in, have a fast connection to the Internet, and have a reliable facility that’s up 100 per cent of the time, monitored 24/7,” Byers says.

Brownlee Thomas, principal analyst in enterprise telecoms services and sourcing at Forrester Research Inc., thinks PRIMUS’ move out to Vancouver is a good choice.

“I think they’re looking at an opportunity. I think Vancouver’s received less attention in terms of hosting data centres than Toronto. Companies are looking for choice, so this is the way to play it,” Thomas says.

While Thomas says it is nice to see a telecom provider enter the Vancouver market, she is not without reservations over the potential decline in revenues PRIMUS may face because of a dwindling market for exclusive voice-based communications.

She says Investing in the Vancouver data centre is a good starting point, yet will involve a major push on PRIMUS’ part to emphasize internet and data communications for enterprises in the future.

“Canada represents 22 per cent of PRIMUS Telecom revenues. The bulk of the revenues come from three countries, Canada, Australia and the U.S. When we look at what they’re then doing, three-quarters of revenue are voice, only 15 per cent is data and Internet services. If you want to be a serious, long-term player in the market, you’ve got to look and see what you can do with data and Internet and hosting is the way to do it. It’s nice to see PRIMUS realize the vulnerability of their voice services. To me, it demonstrates a more serious entry in the enterprise market.”

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