ASG launches Perth data centre

Will underpin Oracle and SAP SaaS and cloud services

ASG Group has opened the doors to its new Perth data centre which will underpin the listed IT services company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Cloud services offering in coming months.

According to managing director, Geoff Lewis, several customers in the government and corporate sectors had already signed to take up residence in the new 550 sq m facility.

One such customer, Western Australian electricity utility Western Power was signed as a foundation customer for the new facility in March.

“A lot of those have been off the back of the managed services outsourcing contracts we have won [in the last 12 months],” Lewis said.

“It is not just about providing the data centre… it is all the other components of ASG’s managed services.

In-depth: Data centre migration guide.

Lewis said a major part of the company’s managed services push will be to utilise the new data centre as the means to offer SaaS and Cloud versions of HR, finance and payroll software — as well as specialised resource sector applications — to its customer base.

“We have very strong Oracle and SAP expertise at an application level and we have built a solution around offer Oracle and SAP as a software as a service on a private cloud,” he said.

“We have a number of customers already on the SAP side in the resources sector and we see more opportunities around that.”

Lewis said Cloud-based versions of SAP’s software, in particular, was attractive to the resources sector due to mining companies’ tendency to start small during the exploration phase and then rapidly increase in head count once major minerals and energy deposits were found.

While services companies such as UXC Connect have sought to deliver SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft applications to mobile and remote workers via the iPad, Lewis said ASG’s approach was more in line with allowing the head offices of resource companies based in Perth could more easily and quickly scale up and down.

In addition to the data centre itself, Lewis said the company’s Cloud strategy would be underpinned by its March deal with IBM for the vendor’s XIV storage systems, Power 770 systems, System x5 servers, backup offerings, Brocade switches and Systems Director software.

While a boom in data centre construction is occurring across the country, Lewis said ASG’s head start on competition on the west coast and its focus on the higher end of the market meant it could remain competitive.

For the east coast, the company would take an opportunistic approach to data centre construction. The company would also consider partnering with dedicated data centre builders/operators in Melbourne and Sydney.

“You have to remember the data centre is a very vital component of a much bigger solution so we need to ensure continuity of access,” he said.

“But we don’t need a data centre this week, or even this year; this is something that will happen FY12 or FY13.”

Lewis added that a potential oversupply of data centre facilities in the next 12 to 24 months could aid the company by providing more options for renting, rather than constructing, east coast facilities.

“We will be able to get access to floor space in a pretty cost effective way,” he said.

“We will probably be one of those organisations [data centre providers] want to sell to. These guys are coming into it as more of a real estate play [than Cloud].”

Lewis said the company was positive that it could report a strong financial result this year, despite some sectors of the IT industry reporting pessimism about the state of the global economy and the high Australian dollar.

In mid-August, ASG posted revenues of $153.3 million for the year ending 30 June 2011, a jump of 28 per cent on the previous year.

“The thing that really differentiates ASG is our contracted services revenue — four-year contracts with four year average renewals,” he said.

“If you look at the 2011 result it was underpinned by the organic growth in that managed services area. There isn’t any doubt that will flow into FY12 as well.

“We are also seeing project work, off the back of those managed services, coming back as well.”

Lewis said the 1 July 2012 introduction of the Carbon Tax would also prove to be a revenue opportunity due to an anticipated increase in demand for ERP software to help manage the reporting and compliance requirements of the tax.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @Tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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