Primus Canada data centre is prepared to feel the Earth move

Primus Canada has opened a west coast data centre designed to withstand the pressures of high customer demands, extreme power consumption and even an earthquake.

Located in Vancouver, the facility includes 2,200 sq. ft. of storage space, with anti-static 12-inch raised floors and storage cabinets that provide 44U space and two dedicated 15 Amps circuits. Primus Canada already operates data centres in Toronto and Ottawa.

A.J. Byers, Primus Canada’s senior vice-president of business services, said the company already has a regional sales office in Vancouver, which it will expand from four to eight people. Six to seven technical staff will be hired to man the data centre. The idea is to boost the firm’s combined voice and data offerings across the country.

“We were weak on the data products in the west,” Byers said. “There’s been a ton of interest in the facility . . . we expect the first component (of the data centre) will be filled within 18 months.”

Given its location, Primus Canada has gone to some trouble to ensure its infrastructure will survive any tremors. That’s why it has purchased special bases from Valencia, Calif.-based WorkSafe Technologies, which uses ball bearings on a platform to give hardware cabinets some flexibility.

“It can shift in the neighbourhood of three or four inches and counter-reacts to the earthquake, and servers can remain up,” Byers said, adding he believes Primus is the first Canadian company to use the WorkSafe product in a facility hosting other customers’ IT infrastructure.

Although Ottawa is not considered a hotbed of seismic activity, three Primus customers were affected when their servers in a data centre there were jostled by a small earthquake. “It had been around six to eight years and they had some older equipment,” Byers explained, adding that even the Vancouver facility is equipped for only minor spikes on the Richter scale. “If something takes down the building, it won’t solve the problem.”

Like similar facilities, the Primus Canada Vancouver data centre occupies most of the floor of a downtown office building. Each of its UPS systems contains up to three modules, each acting as a separate UPS unit, which conditions the input feed to a steady 208 Volts output to the server room. AC units dedicated to each room with 20 tonne capacity dual compressors are designed to allow for maintenance and operation simultaneously.

Unlike telcos or other managed service firms, Byers said Primus Canada is primarily going after small to medium enterprises of 300 to 500 employees. These are the customers who are increasingly dependent upon the availability of Web-based applications.

“Even their billing systems or inventory tracking systems are online now and they can’t afford to suffer downtime of servers in the office,” he said.

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