Catalyst Cloud launches data storage centre

The opening of New Zealand’s first fully-automated, pay-as-you-go cloud service brings the country one baby-step closer to the dream of New Zealand as an important centre for data hosting.

Open source IT company Catalyst officially launched its Catalyst Cloud open source storage service in Wellington today, with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce cutting the ribbon.

The company has taken over part of the former Ministry of Defence building in Porirua.

While cloud storage isn’t new in New Zealand, Catalyst spokesperson Jason Ryan says the company’s competitive edge comes with the ability of the system to automatically adjust the capability available for a customer depending on their needs.

“If you have a surge in traffic, then you are allocated more storage pretty much immediately and you pay for that. Then if usage drops away you go back to paying for what you were originally using.”

Ryan says the technology Catalyst Cloud is using was complex and expensive to develop, and until now similar services have only been available through overseas providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Rackspace.

Cheaper infrastructure

Having a facility in New Zealand provides a cheaper option and resolves issues companies can face if they store their data overseas, says Catalyst director Don Christie.

“The Catalyst Cloud gives people access to scalable, cost-effective infrastructure as a service, hosted here in New Zealand.

“Kiwi businesses will get similar functionality as with AWS, but with the privacy benefits and no latency that local hosting provides.”

Latency is the lag between someone clicking on their mouse in New Zealand and the server in Oregon (for example) responding.

The Telecommunications Users Group (Tuanz) has been pushing for greater cloud storage capability in New Zealand for some time.

Data sovereignty

Tuanz CEO Craig Young says although a second high-capacity communications cable connecting New Zealand to the rest of the world is necessary before New Zealand can become a serious hub for international cloud storage, Catalyst Cloud’s move is a good first step.

“It’s a small move, but a positive move,” Young says. “It’s a New Zealand company and it’s important to have New Zealand companies investing onshore.

“Also the hardware is based in New Zealand so it overcomes the data sovereignty issue and helps with latency.”

“We have some [cloud storage capability] already, but from what I can see, this is business grade data storage ­– it ticks all the boxes.”

Ryan says it has taken Catalyst two years and several million dollars to develop the new Porirua data centre and upgrade existing hosting facilities in Wellington.

He says the company now has a capacity of 100,000 virtual servers and having the Catalyst cloud services in New Zealand could keep more than $40 million a year in this country.