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Rackspace lands in Australia

Takes hall in Digital Realty's local bit barn

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Rackspace will take possession of one data hall in Digital Realty's new Sydney data centre, and pack it full of kit to serve Australian customers.

The company revealed the new data centre today at a press event at which Jim Fagan, its Managing Director for the Asia Pacific Region, said Australian customers are mad for cloud and the company therefore felt it was a jolly good idea to build them a data centre.

“Australia is one of the most mature IT markets in the region and a key source of growth,” Fagan said. But pesky Australians, fearful of latency and the Patriot Act, keep asking for a local data centre. Australian federal government entities must use on-shore hosting, leaving Fagan “happy to announce we will meet our request from customers” with an Aussie bit barn.

The facility in question is located in a semi-rural part of Sydney where the eerie aluminium bulk of large warehouses and distribution centres sit side by side with data centres. The latter are distinguishable by the fact there's very little wheeled traffic going in and out.

The centre Rackspace will occupy is under construction by global data centre outfit Digital Realty, which already hosts Rackspace kit in the USA and elsewhere. Rackspace will be the anchor tenant for the new facility, which will have four data halls and has capacity for four more. Rackspace will take one hall and 1.4mw of power, enough to handle 400 cabinets full of kit.

Rackspace will offer only its managed virtualisation product for starters, with the rest of its range to come. That rollout will start in late 2012, as the data centre is not yet complete and Rackspace has not yet despatched its sales team to spruik its new local capabilities.

New South Wales' wonderfully-named Andrew Stoner, the State's Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, declared Rackspace's decision a tremendous victory for the State and a sign that when it comes to the global business of doing things to bits, Sydney is rather important. He 'fessed up that Rackspace will score some tax exemptions under the State's Digital Economy Action Plan, and that the 50 jobs the new bit barn is expected to create will therefore come with a slightly smaller price tag.

Patriot games

Rackspace was also at pains to point out that despite being an American company, tenants in the Australian facility won't be bound by the Patriot Act.

“Customer data will only be hosted in Australia unless there is a request to host offshore,” said Mark Randall, Rackspace's country manager for Australia and New Zealand. “We will not transfer customer data to a law enforcement agency of another country,” he said, although a customer's request to do so or requirement under local laws would be respected.

Randall also said the Australian faciilty will cost a little more than other Rackspace locations, due to Australian bandwidth costs being “orders of magnitude” beyond those in other nations. The nascent national broadband network, he added, didn't figure in the company's plans. As a business-to-business player, he said, Rackspace cares little for the connectivity afforded to consumers and small businesses. ®

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