Spark Opens Digital Future

Spark Digital today opened one of New Zealand’s safest, most secure buildings but the $60 million Takanini Data Centre is designed to protect data not people as Spark Digital continues its investment programme in cloud services.

“At Spark Digital we believe the future for New Zealand business is digital and we are bringing about that future by investing in infrastructure and expertise,” says Spark Digital CEO Tim Miles.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a start-up business, an SME beavering away in the engine room of the New Zealand economy or a major government or private enterprise our range of Spark Cloud Services can provide the spark that powers your data engine and digital future.”

The Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Key, opened the hi-tech building that features security controlled biometric access, a bullet-proofed and fire-proofed security centre and the data centre building mounted on rubberised bearings to provide earthquake proofing.

Multiple electricity sources back-up the electricity supply to the data halls while both the electricity and cooling systems are demand linked for efficiency and sustainability. The building’s foundations stretch 19 metres down to bedrock while its position on top of soft peat protects the hall from vibration – an important feature for data storage. It’s positioned away from flight paths but close to road transport and data fibre links and is in an area rated as a low risk from tsunami.

“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,” says Mr Miles. “The next level of international rating is military grade and can’t be built here because we don’t have competing national electricity networks.

The state-of-the art data centre is the flagship project in an ongoing $200 million investment by Spark Digital in its Spark Cloud Services. The investment includes the acquisition of leading cloud service providers Revera and Appserv, the building of a Christchurch data centre to support the rebuild, an upgrade to the existing Dunedin data centre and the soon-to-be completed construction of a third data centre in Wellington.

“We’ve been managing data centres for 25 years and with 15 centres across the country, linked by our high-speed, high grade Optical Transmission Network, we have the flexibility necessary to provide services to any New Zealand business.

“The two key services we are providing are co-location where we provide high quality, high availability data centres and infrastructure management for customer owned servers and storage equipment, and cloud services such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

“That’s where we provide the computing power on a variable basis to meet demands and the customer only pays for what they need. This is a service that we can quickly scale up or down to meet the rapid growth patterns that successful digital businesses often achieve. Investing in similar capability and security of access is a considerable cost for most businesses.”

Mr Miles stressed the scalability and flexibility available from the Takanini Data centre with four 100 rack data halls in the current building and the capacity to increase that to 1200 racks to meet future expected demand.

“The data hall is actually a separate pod – it is designed to continue at full capability even if the front part of the building, the admin and security centres, collapsed completely - and its modular construction means it can be quickly replicated. There is room for two more pods on the site.

“One rack can house the equivalent of 1600 standard desktop machines so the data halls can contain the equivalent of 640,000 servers – or enough processing power for every New Zealander to host 10 personal websites - meaning there is plenty of flexibility to meet the needs of small businesses as well as the major enterprise end of town.

“When you add in our $150 million investment in spectrum to enable mobility, our investments in submarine cables that enable our international access, our partnership across the Tasman with Telstra and our establishment of Qrious with its New Zealand leading data analytics engine, Spark has a range and flexibility of cloud services that is unmatched in New Zealand.”

Media Inquiries to:

Alan McDonald
Spark Digital Communications
0212 813 004



Location: Popes Road Takanini, Auckland

Investment: Approximately $60m 

Resiliency: The facility is located on a Tier 3 site and built to TIA 942-A (2012) standard.  All aspects of the facility meet and in many cases exceed TIA942-A levels of redundancy and resilience. A minimum of N+1 for all critical systems is required to meet TIA942-A requirements.

Tier 3 requires independent certification and provides a very high level of resiliency, which is important for enterprise and Government clients. TIA standards are a global benchmark.

The site: Located upstream from the Otahuhu substation pinch point, the site is zoned industrial with no immediate neighbours, has multiple road accesses and is in a low tsunami risk location. It’s well located for power, is very close to Telecom’s backbone network and other telecommunication providers (the data centre will be carrier agnostic) and provides sufficient geographical separation from the existing Telecom site and other service providers. It meets high levels of security design.

Design: The Takanini data centre design is modular, which speeds up deployment time, saves energy, and allows for ongoing deployment of new technology.

This modular construction approach means smaller sized ‘PODs’ of capacity are fitted out and activated within the larger facility. Each POD contains four 100-rack data halls and Takanini has room for three PODs (1200 racks). Energy is expended only for space in active use, and design can be reviewed as PODs are developed, keeping clients connected to advances in technology.

The design also has a strong focus on sustainability, PUE and future flexibility.

A modular cooling design will be employed to match the highly modular electrical systems, and free cooling technology will be utilised to improve efficiency as well as aisle containment.  This modularity also provides higher levels of resilience to the entire system.

The cooling system is closely coupled to the IT load to increase efficiency of cooling delivery.

Each data hall has its own independent mechanical and electrical infrastructure, allowing halls to be configured to suit different environments and densities. This simplifies operational management and reduces risk.The electrical solution is also highly modular and does not employ big heavy-duty electrical distribution, which can create points of failure.

This modular approach eliminates the need for static transfer switching, which substantially improves availability while significantly reducing the cost of electrical distribution systems.

The Takanini data centre also utilises the latest fibre cabling standards and will be a part of Telecom’s new Optical Transport Network (OTN), delivering the fastest, lowest latency, high capacity fibre backbone. Copper services will also be provided for backward compatibility.

Future flexibility was a key design requirement. A scalable design allows for the exact capacity of the data centre to be implemented down to an individual rack level, virtually eliminating stranded capacity issues. Takanini utilises high density contained aisle design which starts out at today’s average (~5kW) and can then scale up to meet future IT needs - up to and beyond 10kW per rack. Maximum rack loads of up to 28kW can be provided.