Bell buys Montreal data centre, eyes DR play

Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. said its acquisition ofMontreal-based Hypertec Availability Services’ hosting division will allow itto gain traction throughout Canadain the hotly contested managed services market.

The purchase will give Bellcontrol of Hypertec’s 105,000 square foot data centre, which is located in abuilding formally owned by Nortel Networks in Montreal. In addition to giving its Quebec corporate and public sector customers more spacefor their managed services and co-location needs, the company expects thefacility will have an impact on Bell’sexisting managed services customers across the country.

While he did not officially make an announcement, JoeMardini, vice-president of sales of Bell’s businessmarkets unit, said he could foresee Bellinterconnecting all of its data centres in Canada to offer its customers moredisaster recovery options and a fully redundant environment.

Mardini said Hypertec had over 40 customers currently usingthe facility, which leaves “a lot of room to grow within the building.” Headded that as customers continue to become more comfortable putting their ITinfrastructure into the hands of a service provider, the company will also beable to expand its services into business continuity.

Bell also has data centrelocations in Markham, Ont. and Calgary.

For Darin Stahl, a lead research analyst with Info-TechResearch Group Ltd., buying a data centre site in Montrealis a wise move for Bell.

“Customers want a secondary site away from the GreaterToronto Area,” he said. “Putting it in Montrealmakes a ton of sense. It’s also a major corridor for the telecom industry.”

In shifting its focus to managed services and co-location,Stahl said, Bellmay also be able to shift some of its cost into its existing telecom business. “Youneed to have data connections and bigger pipes to tether data to remotefacilities.”

Stahl cited Info-Tech data which showed that while 64 percent of organizations engage in some form of hosted, managed or co-locationservice, only 34 per cent of those customers actually have their entire datacentre outsourced.

“That means there’s a lot of capacity sitting around inthese aging data centres,” he said.

Stahl said that leaves Bellwith only one major concern: developing a name brand in managed services.

“They really need to be doing a better job at that,” hesaid. Working with mid-sized enterprises in his role at Info-Tech, Stahl saidvery few of them have Bellon their shortlist when deciding on a service provider.

Mardini said getting the word out will be a priority for Bell. The company willuse its massive sales team to hopefully reach more enterprise customers.

Bell’spurchase is the latest news in a series of recent data centre hosting-relatedannouncements.

Earlier this summer, Toronto-based managed services andco-location firm Fusepoint Inc. was purchased by U.S.-based Savvis Inc. for$121 million.

Vancouver-based Peer 1 Network Enterprises Inc. andToronto-based Q9 Networks Inc. also made news in the hosting market thissummer. Peer 1 opened a $40-million Torontoarea data centre, while Q9 announced that it would built its sixth facility inthe area with a new 240,000-square-foot data center project that will cost $125million.

The financial terms of Bell’sacquisition were not disclosed.

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