Primus customers explore options after data centre blackout

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Primus customers explore options after data centre blackout

At least two Melbourne data centre operators claim customers affected by the Primus blackout last week are re-evaluating their options as they seek assurances over redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities.

A data centre operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Primus was falling off customers' radar.

"We've been speaking with a number of customers who are evaluating data centre space," they said.

"Some customers specifically mentioned they were looking at Primus but aren't anymore."

Other data centre operators, such as Interactive, had experienced "an increase in new enquiries since the heatwave but nothing dramatic at this stage", according to director of sales Simon Durkin.

Jules Rumsey, managing director of Telarus, also said that his staff "haven't had a lot of calls from people wanting to exit the Primus facility in King St.

"However, I have spoken to a number of industry players that have a presence there and are considering their options in order to avoid service outages in future," Rumsey said.

Chris Macko, technical operations director at Intervolve, would not speak directly about Primus but said Intervolve's Victorian sales team had seen a general increase in sales enquiries recently.

"Customer sales enquiry increases have come to us due to lack of available space, power constraints, what we presume were due to service outages, as well as the inability of some other providers to deliver the services customers require," he said.

Shockwaves from the Primus blackout appear to have triggered a renewed focus on fault tolerance in the data centre market generally.

Newer facilities, in particular, are receiving strong interest from customers that increasingly demand space that can support higher densities of equipment with minimum N+1 redundant power supplies and other plant. 

"If you've got quality data centre space and appropriate N+1 redundancy then you're sitting on a goldmine at the moment," Durkin said.

"We're in the fortunate position of only being in our data centre for six months. We've got two brand new generators sitting in there and over 600 square metres still available."

Macko told a similar tale. "As our facility has only recently been commissioned, environmental control systems are new and have been tested for multiple service outage scenarios, with maintenance policies, monthly service & testing of all systems," he said.

Rumsey said that Telarus hosts in both vendor and carrier-neutral facilities and also runs its own MPLS core network. He said Telarus actively encouraged customers to consider how they would remain protected in the event of a network outage on their carrier's network.

"We also offer customers automatic failover to a secondary service in the event that the primary service fails," he said.

iTnews was again unable to reach a Primus spokesperson to comment on how Primus would prevent a similar outage from occurring in the future.

A copy of the post-incident report (PIR) obtained by iTnews failed to shed light on the issue.

It blamed "equipment failure in the Hi [sic] Voltage sub station" for the blackout and said that "action has been taken by Primus Telecom staff to have the issues in the high voltage sub station rectified". It did not elaborate further.

A spokesperson for Powercor, however, put the onus on Primus to ensure its redundant systems were in working order.

"Customers who demand and require an uninterrupted power supply must have effective measures in place to protect themselves against unplanned power outages," the spokesperson said.

"That should include making sure that generators and UPS systems are regularly tested and ready to respond to interruptions on the electricity distribution network as well as higher up in the electricity supply chain.

"While we never like having our customers off supply, unfortunately there no jurisdiction in the world can guarantee power supply 100 per cent of the time."

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