Q9 plays host to Alberta firms

Based on the success it has seen in Toronto, Q9 Networks Inc. has expanded westward and has landed smack dab in the middle of Telus Corp.’s territory.

The Web hosting company recently built a 22,000-square-foot data centre in downtown Calgary to offer its collocation, hosting and infrastructure solutions to Albertans.

As with its Toronto data centre, the Calgary centre is engineered for 100 per cent uptime, according to Q9. The facility is equipped with multiple power feeds, IPS battery backup, emergency diesel generators, redundant HVAC systems and zone fire detection and suppression systems. Q9 also boasts 24×7 Internet connectivity, which is provided through its network of high-speed equipment and data links connected to multiple Internet backbones.

According to Osama Arafat, Q9’s CEO, the decision to explore Calgary came as a natural progression.

“We looked at all the candidate cities in Canada, and Calgary has a couple of things,” he explained. “Number one, Calgary has the highest number of headquarters after Toronto. Our customers tend to be the headquarters of companies. Also, the oil, gas and resources industries there all have extensive computing requirements.”

Q9 is not alone in its belief that Calgary is currently one of Canada’s “hot” tech spots. Telus Corp. has practically owned the market in Alberta for some time, although Q9 is confident it can compete.

“I think customers are looking for someone who is focused on this business and who is not everything to everyone,” Arafat said. “We do one thing but we do it really well. The other important thing is that we are carrier-neutral. We are not a carrier ourselves. We are connected to Bell, Telus, AT&T, Sprint and Rogers and we provide all those connections to our customers on a single Ethernet cable.”

And, as far as Telus is concerned, Q9’s presence in Calgary is more than welcome.

“Telus does welcome competition,” said Craig Richardson, assistant vice-president, Hosting and Managed Applications, for Telus in Calgary. “The very fact that Q9 would see a good opportunity here in Calgary, to me not only says a lot about the market potential for hosting solutions in general, bit also says a lot about the potential in Western Canada. On that note alone, it is a good affirmation of the business that we are in today at Telus.”

While Richardson maintained that Telus is pleased to have Q9 in town, he did note that customers should understand that Q9 is a niche player.

“They are an organization that focuses on one thing, and one thing only,” he said. “I think what you will find is, not only with our existing customer base but also customers that we are attracting to Telus as a service provider are really those customers who are looking for a broader solution in terms of solutions they can then offer their customers.”

Arafat, however, says Q9’s focused services approach makes it highly efficient.

“From a customer perspective, when a customer calls us, we know immediately that he/she is a managed hosting customer,” Arafat said. “We don’t have to qualify whether they are a cell phone customer or a high-speed residential customer. We only service one kind of customer.”

PFB Corp., a Calgary-based manufacturer of plastic foam products and building systems, recently selected Q9’s collocation services for its server environment. Although the firm considered keeping its client-server infrastructure in-house, PFB quickly vetoed the idea as the cost would have been “astronomical,” according Red Ortega, PFB’s manager of information systems group. Ortega said that while the company pays a premium for Q9’s solutions, PFB knows it is getting dedicated service.

“We considered the telcos, but hosting to them is more of a hobby,” Ortega explained. “With Q9 it is their core business. I was impressed with [them]. I have had tours of other data centres and some of them are just jokes. For us, Q9 has gone above and beyond.”