Oz Def Min to exit Global Switch data centre biz by 2025

The Department of Defence in Australia has reneged on its planned 2020 exit from Global Switch’s Sydney-based data centre by up to five years after plans to move all of its data from the facility fell short last year. 

The department extended its deal with the Chinese-owned facility under a $53.5 million contract last October

Defence had planned to shift all of its secret files back into a government-owned data centre at the end of its 10-year lease agreement Global Switch in September 2020, as revealed by the ABC.

The decision to leave was prompted by a purchase of half of the centre’s parent company by a Chinese consortium in 2017, despite assurances from the company that its files are secure. 

The move was slated to cost up to $200 million when planning began around three years ago.

But the new property lease gives Defence access to Global Switch’s Ultimo facility until September 2025.

Meanwhile, other federal government agencies, including he Australian Taxation Office and, more recently, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, have either moved – or are in the process of moving – out of Global Switch by 2022.

Australian Defence has also extended a separate property lease with Global Switch until September 2025 under an existing deal at a cost of $8 million.

A spokesperson told iTnews “the size of the Defence holdings made it impractical to migrate all the holdings from the data centre prior to the expiry of the Defence lease in September 2020”.

The department did, however, migrate some of its data holdings to an undisclosed “alternative data centre”.

“This was completed in mid-2020,” the spokesperson said, adding that “Defence has developed a plan to migrate its remaining holdings to cover the next three to five years, as supported by the government”.

Defence also uses other data centres, including Canberra Data Centres (CDC) for its billion-dollar enterprise resources planning (ERP) modernisation hosted on Microsoft Azure.

Asked whether sensitive data was stored at the data centre, Defence said it still “has data holdings at GSU [Global Switch Ultimo]”, adding that the facility is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board controls.

Last month, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that over half of all current federal government contracts were with one data centre provider, widely understood to be CDC, iTNews reported. 

“Contracts with the dominant provider totalled $620 million, or 79 percent,” it said in its ‘devolved data centre decision report’ [pdf] after analysing 87 current data centre contracts on AusTender.

Founded in 1998 and led by Chief Executive Officer John Corcoran, Global Switch, owns, operates and develops data centers in Europe and Asia Pacific. The company’s footprint currently spans about 390,000 square meters and its tenants include government organizations, mobile carriers and financial institutions, its website shows. The company posted revenue of about 439 million pounds in 2019, its annual report showed.

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