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Wednesday, 20 April 2011 08:41

NSW data centre plan faces farce phase


Remember Steven Bradbury - the ice skater who won gold when he was the last man standing? Well there's a sense of the Steven Bradburys about the race to supply the NSW Government with its data centres as a key bid member in the Leighton camp has now pulled the plug.

The selection of a partner to build and operate two monster data centres for the NSW State Government has had the hallmarks of high farce for some time as bidder after bidder fell over. Eventually only the Macquarie Capital Group and Leighton Contractors were left in the race for the project that calls for 130 Government data centres to be consolidated into just two.

But Springfield Land Corporation has now confirmed that it, a key part of the Leighton line up, has withdrawn from the race to build a data centre for the NSW Government. Springfield has built the Polaris data centre in Queensland as part of a joint venture with Suncorp and this week announced plans to build a $200 million data centre in Melbourne which will have one of the big banks as anchor tenant.

A spokeswoman for Leighton Contractors said that the company is still bidding for the NSW data centre business but declined to comment on the implications of Springfield's decision to withdraw. Macquarie Capital also declined to comment.

Springfield's managing director Bob Sharpless told iTWire that that while the company is interested in building a data centre in NSW to complement its line up in Victoria and Queensland, it had pulled out of the NSW Government data centre bid because of the 'requirements of the NSW Government.' 

According to a spokesman for the NSW Department of Finance and Service; 'The data centre reform tender (is) active and the Department of Finance and Services will not comment.' He declined to comment on the implications of Springfield's decision to withdraw.

A proposal hatched under the previous Labor Government, the NSW Government data centre programme is part of a plan by the State to consolidate its data centres into just two, but that process has been fraught with controversy. There is now mounting pressure on the NSW Government to abandon the data centre plan and either look at cloud computing or leverage Federal data centre initiatives.

Who else pulled out? Read on

That the project should come so unravelled in such a short time is remarkable. Just last November the NSW then minister for commerce, Paul Lynch invited Global Switch Property; Gresham Rabo Management; Leighton Contractors; Macquarie Capital Group and the Plenary Group Unit Trust to bid for the project.

However Government demands that two data centres, on in Sydney and one in Wollongong, be built were considered onerous by many of the groups invited to bid, with three of the five invited to bid withdrawing from the race.

And now there are two, one of which has just lost a key partner.

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