New $220m Polaris datacentre unlikely to suffer Melbourne blackout fate

Disaster, terrorist and earthquake proof datacentre will host government and corporate clients to deliver managed and hosting services

The master planner behind the new Polaris datacentre in Queensland has cited key differences in its redundancy model that would prevent the kind of total power failure that left a Melbourne datacentre in the dark this week.

Officially opened on February 3, the $220m five-storey disaster, terrorist and earthquake proof centre will host mission-critical ICT systems for government departments and corporations.

Clients include NEC, which will deliver managed services and hosting services out of Polaris, as will datacentre developer, Metronode. Other tenants include Suncorp, ICC, EDS, Ipswich City Council and the Queensland Government.

Strategic Directions Group director, Mike Andrea, who was responsible for designing the Treasury datacentre in Canberra, said the big difference in Polaris’ redundancy capabilities was its N+2 model.

“For a power failure to impact service operations from a power delivery perspective in Polaris, it would mean we would need to lose up to three diesel generators,” he said.

“Our N+2 model means that on a fact of a power failure, within 8-10 seconds the diesel engines are up and running, taking the load and passing it back to the rotary Uninterruptible Power Supplies [UPSs] to the IT load. I could actually have two diesel engines not start and we’d still have four that would operate and take the full load of the building.”

The Tier 3+ datacentre is located in the Queensland town of Greater Springfield and will be officially opened by the state’s Minister for Public Works, Housing and Information and Communication, the Hon Robert Schwarten.

According to Strategic Directions, it will then be immediately locked down “behind an impenetrable wall of bullet proof glass, biometric fingerprint scanners, dark fibre network and state of the art ‘man traps’”.

“Organisations that have taken a lease in the facility basically run their own IT within the datacentre itself. The facilities manager will look after all the cooling and power reticulation, maintenance etc around the core systems. But the tenants themselves will then run their own IT operations on their own racks.” Andrea said

Polaris was built from the ground up with IT service delivery always in mind, he said.

It was designed as a primary and secondary ICT facility and acts as a disaster recovery site, Internet datacentre and carrier interconnect exchange for its high profile tenants, of which Suncorp is the largest. NEC plans to use it as a reserve site in case earthquakes strike Japan.

The ‘man traps’ located on each of Polaris’ three data floors are equipped with weight-based floor sensors that trigger locks and alarms within seconds. Similar ‘vehicle traps’ have also been installed covering all approaches to the building itself.

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