Alberta firm

To handle the growing storage and computing demands of its optical satellite imagery business, Lethbridge, Alta.-based Iunctus Geomatics Corp. spun out a separate data centre company to serve its customers.

The firm, which provides maps that help organizations plot out infrastructure developments, said its new sister company BlackBridge Networks will not only help it keep pace with higher resolution satellite maps, but also allow it to compete in the co-location services space.

“For earth observation imagery, it’s not uncommon to keep images in perpetuity,” said Leonard Hendricks, CEO at BlackBridge Networks, adding that its customers often want to analyze decades worth of imaging data. “Given the nature of this problem, it made sense to build a data centre of our own.”

The rapid data growth is especially difficult for companies in the satellite imagery space to handle, Hendricks added.

“If we commit to storage the data for a new satellite, it tends to be in orbit for 10 to 15 years,” he said. “So our time horizon is quite a bit longer than some companies would have (for their data).”

In addition to longer data retention cycles, advancements in the satellite technology itself have boosted computing power requirements. Hendricks said new satellites not only take pictures at a higher resolution, but also offer images in more frequency bands.

The company hopes that spending money on the data centre infrastructure today will ensure future expansions can be avoided. The Lethbridge facility was built to requirements far larger than what Iunctus required, which gives BlackBridge the opportunity to sell some of the space to other organizations.

To ensure it could scale, BlackBridge tapped Juniper Networks Inc. for its Ethernet switches and services gateway.

Juniper said its partnership with BlackBridge was one of the vendor’s smoothest in recent memory. The companies went from engagement to deployment in just a few months.

Colin Korte, service provider sales manager for Juniper Networks in Canada, said all the Juniper products within the facility run on the Junos operating system, which simplifies data centre management, ensures capability and reduces human error.

“It’s easy to turn up the services in each area of the network,” he said.

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