Project Gemini Data Centre Hero

Project Gemini Data Centre

IT operations are a crucial aspect of most organisational operations around the world. Two of the main concerns are business continuity and information security; companies rely on their information systems to run their operations. If a system becomes unavailable or is breached, company operations may be impaired or stopped completely.

In late 2013, Telecom (now Spark Digital) took the opportunity to construct one of the largest, most sophisticated data centres in the world in the Auckland suburb of Takanini. This would provide clients with state of the art security for their data within a building that is tsunami and earthquake resilient.

Spark’s goals:

  • Increase capability for cloud services that Spark Digital’s clients want and need.
  • Add momentum to long-term growth strategies.
  • Gain access to a contract to provide information technology infrastructure for the Government.

What we did:

The data centre was complex in design and construction. Not only was the initial ground work extensive but the design was a new concept that placed all power generation on the ground level feeding up to level one, with cooling units above level one to keep the equipment cool.

It was vital that we met the strict deadlines set by the client as they required early access. This meant we handed over the building in sections while construction continued elsewhere. We helped develop a comprehensive services commissioning plan as well as the project finalisation plan.

Security was key in the design of the facility given the sensitive nature of the data being stored there. Each data hall has independent mechanical and electrical infrastructure simplifying operational management, reducing risk and increasing resilience. During design and construction we also maintained a focus on sustainability and energy efficiency.

The data centre has been constructed in such a way that Telecom will be able to further upgrade and expand the facility in future, if required.

Unique challenges:

  • The ground at the site included a peat layer. This made access and work conditions extremely difficult (we even had a digger sink!).
  • A huge effort was required to ensure materials were delivered on time. This was a global activity as parts were coming from Norway, Malaysia, Slovakia and Australia. Weekly conference calls were held to account for the varying time zones.
  • Sectional handovers and early tenant access were agreed upon pre-construction which meant we had to keep to very strict delivery dates.

The Outcome:

The Project Gemini data centre is one of New Zealand’s safest, most secure buildings. It is designed to protect data rather than people and is part of Spark Digital’s continued investment programme in cloud services.

"This is as good as it can get in New Zealand with its Tier 3 international rating. That means our customers can expect zero to a maximum 1.6 hours unplanned down time in a year when utilising our services. The next level of international rating is military grade and can’t be built here because we don’t have competing national electricity networks.”

Tim Miles

CEO, Spark Digital