Located 570 metres above sea level, ringed by national park and farmland, and with a population of just 400,000, Canberra may not seem an obvious candidate for some of the world’s most advanced data centres.
But as the seat of Australia’s Federal Government and with a largely benign climate it seemed an attractive proposition for Canberra Data Centres (CDC).
It was a smart decision – today CDC provides the computing foundations for 40 leading Government departments and agencies, and from 2018 will also deliver a broad array of Microsoft Azure services to help accelerate digital transformation across all levels of the public sector in both Australia and New Zealand.
CDC’s first 6 Megawatt data centre, designed to serve the needs of the Federal Government, opened in Hume in 2008. Constructed to securely house data up to and including Top Secret, and with a world-leading granular pod-style design, demand for services continues to rise.
The company has expanded rapidly, opening additional data centres in Hume and Fyshwick – all connected by the 2 terabytes per second Intra Government Communications Network (ICON) which ensures high speed, low latency and cost effective, secure cloud connection for public sector agencies.
Greg Boorer, CEO of CDC, characterises the company’s approach as “creating a public sector ecosystem that is an accelerator for digital transformation.”
He’s speaking of the sort of transformation that could deliver anytime anywhere access to Government services for citizens, and massive efficiency dividends for the public sector.
“The CDC ecosystem supports more than 40 federal government departments and agencies, the ACT Government, and we are now supporting a number of managed service providers and smaller cloud service providers delivering to government.
“It’s a dynamic ecosystem and now we have got Microsoft as a hyperscale cloud provider Government has complete flexibility. Agencies can do some things themselves and procure cloud services, all with low latency and no additional cost for telecommunications or security.”
CDC’s combination of security, availability, adaptability, and sustainability has proven to be catnip for the public sector. Boorer says the ability for agencies to future proof themselves without compromising economy or security has been a particular attraction.
This is particularly important for Government departments which may need to pivot rapidly when Parliaments change or legislative changes are enacted. Rather than needing to rebuild information systems from the ground up, public sector organisations housed by CDC can add cloud services such as Azure, which will also be delivered out of CDC’s facilities, to meet shifting requirements with no compromise of security or performance.
With regard to security all of CDC’s data halls are Zone 5 ready and Zone 4 accredited. Data sovereignty and privacy are also assured.
Microsoft has already had more than 40 of its Azure cloud services and 10 Office 365 services certified by the Australian Signals Directorate. Delivering Azure out of CDC’s Canberra data centres is an important step to having that certification further enhanced in the future.
Boorer also stresses the importance of CDC’s data centre resilience and sustainability. With duplicate sites in Canberra, connection to the high speed ICON network and redundant power and generator farm connections, the centres achieve enviable uptime performance and minimal mean time to recovery.
CDC also makes use of Canberra’s climate, removing entirely the need for water cooling, which saves 400,000 litres of water each day, and helps to keep costs and risk in check. Boorer says the design of the data centres can save Government users as much as 30 per cent on their power bills.
While there are clear economic benefits, even greater impact comes from Governments’ ability to use the data centres to transform themselves and their citizen-facing services according to Boorer.
He says agencies appreciate the ability to be part of a public sector ecosystem that can respond rapidly to shifting needs and expectations. “Over time more of the services will be delivered by Microsoft – this gives agencies optionality and flexibility; access to different services at a time of their choosing.
“If you are in the ecosystem you are managing data growth without impacting performance cost, or security and you are operating out of the most accredited data centre environment in Australia today.”