Standard Bank will lease space in its new mega data centre in Midrand to telecommunications operators and other companies as it is only able to use a small portion of the capacity in the expansive facility for its own needs.
The tier-four Samrand data centre, which has total floor space of 27 000sq m and data centre capacity of 6 000sq m, has been billed as the biggest such facility in Africa. Construction of the facility, led by Grinakar-LTA, began in 2009, and the site is now ready to be populated.
Standard Bank deputy CEO Peter Wharton-Hood says the site, which cost more than R1bn to build — and that’s without populating it with computer equipment — has far more capacity than what’s needed by the bank.
Some industry sources put the cost at as much as R1,6bn.
But Wharton-Hood says that even by 2014, Standard Bank will be using less than 50% of the capacity available. One data centre operator polled by TechCentral this week — he asked not to be named — expressed amazement at the bank’s decision to build a facility so much larger than what it needs to serve its own needs.
The expenditure is likely to raise eyebrows given that the bank is retrenching almost 1 800 staff in a bid to cut costs.
Already, Standard Bank is coming under fire from some quarters over the costs associated with another IT-related implementation — the project to replace its core banking systems with software from SAP.
Standard Bank decided to build the new Midrand facility because its existing disaster recovery centre in Riverclub in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, which was constructed in the 1970s, was reaching the end of its design life.
“In the context of where the group found itself it couldn’t meet the next level of expansion,” Wharton-Hood says.
He says the bank is “investigating what it can do with the spare capacity that is surplus to requirements”.
Market talk is that MTN was interested in buying the facility, but Angela Gahagan, the head of MTN Business, scotches this, saying no talks have taken place.
However, Gahagan says she is always looking for more data centre space and if there is capacity available in the Standard Bank facility, she’d potentially be interested in it.
Selling the entire facility appears unlikely, though. Rather, the bank may lease space in the centre. It hasn’t held formal discussions yet with anyone, though Standard Bank has begun approaching interested parties.
“We have asked for expressions of interest [and]we will make a decision about it in the first or second quarter of next year.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral