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Thursday, 17 October 2013 06:02

Megaport has mega plans Featured


Not content with turning Australia’s data centre market on its head with NEXTDC, entrepreneur Bevan Slattery wants to do the same with network connectivity.

In July this year serial entrepreneur Bevan Slattery launched Megaport, a network interconnection company to provide high speed networking between data centres in the Asia Pacific region.

Just a few months later, business is booming. The growth rate is similar to that of Slattery’s other recent company, data centre provider NEXTDC. Data centres and the connections between them are hot, and Slattery seems to have a knack for hitting the right spot at the right time. He spoke to iTWire about Megaport and his plans for the future.

“Nowadays it’s ‘everything as a service,” he says. “You can get software as a service and platforms as a service and data centre infrastructure as a service. What’s been missing is networking as a service.

“We want people to be able to order and provision network service and circuits on demand and in real time, and not have to so lots of paperwork and sign up for a 12 or 24 month contract. We want to provide highly scalable network services that can be scaled up or down on demand.

“No-one has ever done that before. We are doing it. We want to revolutionise the way communications networks connect,” says Slattery. “For too long the industry has been dominated by providers that are operating on legacy technology and are often bound by restrictive price models based on limited capacity.

“Megaport’s offering is based on a massive interconnection fabric designed to allow providers to use a single physical Ethernet interface to seamlessly connect with other parties. We aim to make a significant positive impact towards the operating costs borne by network operators, content hosts and cloud service providers.”

The Megaport platform, implemented for Megaport by ASI Solutions, is networking vendor Brocade’s first delivery of 100 Gbps network services in the Asia Pacific region. “We believe that providing the highest port speeds is critical, and the Brocade Ethernet platform is a fundamental enabler for our service,” said Slattery.

Since its launch in July 2013, Megaport—which currently extends to 18 major data centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane—has connected over 700 Gbps in bandwidth. With strong demand expected to continue, Slattery says he wants Megaport to lead the charge to roll out 100 Gbps network interconnection services across the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Megaport uses the local communication capabilities within data centres, but needs to add switching equipment (see next story). It leases dark fibre from various carriers, including Slaterry’s PIPE Networks (which he founded it in 2002 and sold it to TPG in 2010), between data centres.

Megaport is currently laying some of its own cable, but only to increase capacity between data centres in the same city. “I don’t want to compete on dark fibre,” he says.

“We want to be the leading network interconnection company in Asia Pacific,” he says. Not the world? “The world is too big. This region is where the growth is. We can do it all from Australia, using this country as a model for the rest of the region.”

The Megaport network offers links between all its sites at a minimum of 10 Gbps. Slattery says he currently as 73 customers and will pass 100 ports this week.

“We’ll definitely reach 150 by the end of the year, maybe even 200. That will mean 2 Tbps of access capacity within six months of startup.”

Impressive indeed. Most of the initial customers are the data centre operators themselves and service providers, but Slattery says he is now getting interest from major enterprises.

“I can’t mention who they are, but we have some large name brand Australian companies interested in having connections around the region.”

Megaport is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connnect partner. “AWS customers can now use the Megaport network to do temporary mass dumps of data into S3 or EBS, do short term computes and eventually access Glacier storage when it becomes available.

“The biggest issue AWS customers have with accessing their cloud services is the speed of service activation for direct connect and being tied into long term carrier contracts. The beauty of Megaport is that it was designed around cloud from day one, with no contracts and flexible speeds.”

Megaport customers use VXC (Virtual Cross Connect), a point-to-point Ethernet link between two Megaports. “The VXC is delivered as a VLAN on the interface and is available at daily, monthly and annual rates with no minimum contract,” says Slattery. “VXCs are billed as flat rate within the metro and at a usage rate for intercity. Metro VXCs are not rate-limited by, but can be limited in 1 Gbps increments at the customer’s discretion. Intercity VXCs can be ordered from 100Mbps up to 10Gbps in 100Mb increments.”

Megaport is already in seven data Australian centres, and is building out the infrastructure in 12 more. By the end of the year connected data centres will be NEXTDC’s Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane facilities (of course – Slattery remains a major shareholder), AAPT in all three cities, Equinix’s three Sydney data centres, and data centres owned by Global Switch, Pacnet, Fujitsu and Vocus (in Sydney); Melbourne DC, Primus and Vocus (in Melbourne) and Over The Wire and PIPE’s two data centres (in Brisbane).

In his spare time Slattery also runs SubPartners, a submarine cable company building 19.2 Tbps links from Pert to Singapore via Jakarta (APX-West) and Sydney to Los Angeles via Auckland and Hawaii (APX-East). Capacity on these cables may well be used by Megaport, given the strong links between the two companies.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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