Atlantic Canada Dataville – the Information Switzerland

Looks like someone in Nova Scotia is taking the data centre industry seriously. My fingers are calloused from all my posts about the opportunity of data centres. Who knows?

The current economic crisis presents the Atlantic region with a unique business advantage, said Anton E. Self, founder and CEO of Halifax-based IT startup Bastionhost.

Self, announced his company’s project to put Nova Scotia on the technological map by establishing a system of data centres and digital media storage facilities in the province.
“We can build a new billion dollar industry right here in Nova Scotia,” he said, highlighting the region’s dense and established infrastructure and relative affordability. “But we need to invest in improving and integrating our critical infrastructure here, now, if we are to seize the moment and realize our tremendous potential as a leading global data haven.”

Privacy law expert David Fraser argued that Canada’s and Nova Scotia’s strong privacy laws offer another inherent advantage to the data centre sector, especially since the United States passed the USA Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11. He said, “we can become an information Switzerland.”

The point here is to find a way to generate sustainable competitive advantage in this sector. Ocean water cooling of the data centres might be one way. Leveraging the the country’s privacy laws – this has been mentioned many times – may be another. Some other cost or ifnrastructure advantage could be floating around.

I hope Nova Scotia gives this guy a wide berth to figure this out. Because it is a billion dollar industry and it is a high paying industry and it could easily be in this region if the business environment made sense.

I get goose bumps.

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7 Responses to Atlantic Canada Dataville – the Information Switzerland

  1. Harold Jarche says:

    If they ever get a website up we’ll be able to read some more about this organisation and corroborate the information. Til then, who knows?

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’ll pardon me if I express skepticism at the “billion dollar industry” comment. It could come to that, but I would be more interested in how this start-up will position itself against the might of about one hundred well-established and very quick firms who know this business very well. IBM, EDS, CSC, et. al., not to mention xwave in this region already have a grip on this very competitive industry. Ocean cooling works well in Mechanix Illustrated but you would do well to remember how absolutely razor-thin the margins are…

  3. David Campbell says:

    That is correct. Anyone can say anything. My point is not that this company has a good business model. My point is that we want to make sure that NB takes a serious look at this and whether or not we can generate a compelling biz case for this industry. If other jurisdictions get way out front on this, NB’s chances of attracting a lot of data centres and data centre activity are significantly diminished.

  4. vincerolly says:

    Unfortunately, other jurisdictions may already have positioned themselves such that NB today has less room to maneuver. When BNB was more actively pushing data centers about 10 years ago, we had talented personnel, a nascent street cred and much less competition. Ten years later, the people are mostly gone (you among them), credibility that’s more historic than active and many more very competitive jurisdictions including Chile, Romania, Indonesia, Brazil, et.al. The list now is very long. Check out any Gartner or IDC conference for the modern context.

    The ocean cooling idea is a great one (IBM is already there in the UK) and Newfoundland’s Memorial University has some world-class blue water research and capability, but all the stars would need to align at this point.

    We can still be players, but we would need to partner with global players and, importantly, integrate ourselves into the global supply chain. This is really not a fit for startups playing without a net.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Interesting to see that law expert David Fraser is one of extended team of Bastionhost. We don’t hear enough from the legal community and how a legal infrastructure can contribute to the competitive position of a firm or industry.

  6. christian says:

    dataville is operational. the ex-military bunker to house the datacenter was purchased in 2011, their website isn’t the best looking, but so far so good, it’s moving ahead.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Not sure where Christian comment comes from. Alternate universe?

    Shortly after his comment the power was disconnected at the facility by NS Power. Likely didn’t pay their power bills again. I know because I live on the base.

    Almost two month later following that the property went up for tax auction for not paying their property taxes for three years. I know because I was at that tax auction, and bought it.

    What I found inside was nothing like what you read on the Internet.

    You can search google for ‘dataville tax sale’ and see what videos in youtube come up, as well as news articles about the sale. I prepared a playlist for people to get a first hand tour of the facility.

    Fair warning, some images will be disturbing.

    As for the topic of the post.. it is possible. I would like to see Nova Scotia take advantage of all the information economy has to offer… and a water/air free cooled data center is a great start.

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