Q9 Networks finished the second of three expansion projects slated this year with the opening of a $20-million data centre just outside Calgary.

Earlier this year, the company said it had already signed up an anchor tenant for the new data centre, though it did not name the customer. Q9 already runs a data centre in Calgary, but the new one is not situated within the downtown core. As such, it will be used in some cases as a backup facility or a disaster recovery site for some of its Western Canadian clients. 

Q9 regularly tries to look ahead 12 to 18 months and assess how full its facilities will be. The new Calgary facility, for example, has about 1,200 cabinet equivalents.

“We look at the availability of power, suitability of the structure, fibre and things like that. In Calgary, real estate is very, very tight, so that narrowed the choice for us,” Q9 Networks chief executive Osama Arafat said. “In Calgary, the last year or so has been a really strong market for us. As quickly as we tried to build the new data centre, we ran out of capacity in the old one. That’s why we were able to offer space to customers already.”

Data centre cooling has emerged as a major issue for enterprise companies, and a number of firms, including HP and IBM, have brought out products to try to bring the temperatures in server rooms down. Q9 builds its own cooling systems, however, Arafat said, and backs it up with emergency power systems. The company took pride, for example, in continuing to operate amid the blackout that crippled power systems across Ontario and the Northeastern seaboard in August of 2003.

Q9 has grown considerably since its launch in 2000. The company bought an old Exodus Communications data centre in Brampton to add to its Ontario footprint, and another 1,000-cabinet equivalent Toronto-based data centre was opened in January. A 1,200 cabinet equivalent extension for the Brampton site is scheduled for later this year.

Late last year Q9 also announced an agreement through which IBM would act as a reseller of its managed services. IBM Canada‘s business unit executive for managed service Bob Wilie said there are a number of advantages to having a third party partner.

“The changes in hardware technologies are putting increased pressure on customer data centre facilities. That’s driving a lot of customers to look at in-house investments both for primary as well as recovery sites,” he said. “We were seeing quite a number of requests for customers looking for data centres.”

Arafat said the IBM relationship is an important part of the company’s long-term growth strategy.

“It will certainly play a role in where we expand to. We will keep them in mind in terms of where they want us to go.”

Once the Brampton project is complete, Arafat said Q9 will look at data centre opportunities in other markets as well.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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