Plan B pounces on changing ICT market with bold data centre move

Plan B is branching out to offer production data centre hosting, via a new independent, connected data centre network.

The offering, branded Southern Cross Data Centres, or SXDC, will initially include five SXDC locations across Auckland (with two data centres), Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

It will be targeted at regional integrators, who are seeking a wider network of data centres, and large enterprises, and Plan B has committed $30 million to stage one of the project.

Ian Forrester, Plan B managing director, says SXDC will not offer IT services, and so won’t compete with co-location customers, something he says will differentiate SXDC from other national data centre networks – a market dominated by major integrators.

There will, however, be opportunity for customers to resell, or buy, Plan B’s backup and recovery-as-a-service offerings.

“Plan B will remain integrator and telco neutral allowing us to provide a quality environment to multiple clients within SXDC, but our core focus will remain business continuity and related services,” Forrester says.

SXDC will operate as a separate brand from Plan B. “When you think of data centre co-location, the name Plan B does not come to mind, because we are business continuity specialists.”

Forrester says current independent co-location data centres are all single site, and the lack of a neutral or integrator independent data centre network in New Zealand ‘presents a significant opportunity’.

“The ICT landscape is changing,” he notes. Production IT is moving into the data centre/cloud, with a growing trend to opex, rather than capex, and integrators are seeking new channels to replace at-risk revenues.

At the same time, New Zealand’s small, dispersed population makes us less attractive to global players.

Issues of latency, high international bandwidth costs, international connectivity risks and compliance, regulatory obligations and data sovereignty concerns are also driving the opportunity, he says.

Forrester says SXDC is a ‘natural progression’ from Plan B’s current provision of business continuity. During the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, Plan B provided some production hosting, with companies working off Plan B servers, but the company has otherwise shied away from doing production hosting.

He says the company isn’t aiming to take on Tier 3 providers, instead planning to be a niche provider, designed to enable the integrator market to provide private cloud solutions, with On-net cloud backup and recovery services designed into the data centre DNA.

Plan B will open a new custom-built data centre and business recovery facility in Tawa in August, expanding its current footprint at the site by around 1000m2.

The company is also gearing up for expansion in Auckland. Forrester says he believes the company can fill another 100 racks within the next year, through SXDC.

Forrester says all of the SXDCs will have tier one telco connectivity, with dark fibre connectivity to a range of other data centres including Vocus, Iconz, SAS IT and WIX.

“We will continue to add locations on demand,” he adds.

Plan B acquired cloud backup provider Disaster Recovery Group in April and Forrester says further acquisitions are expected.

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