Where were you raised?
I was born in Surrey in the UK and came to Australia in 1986 for a holiday. I left the UK in the middle of a freezing winter and arrived at Bondi Beach on a beautiful 31 degree day and never left. I was interested in business and technology early, and had a newspaper route at 10. I've never worked for anyone, always creating and running my own businesses.
Your career path?
Before I left the UK, I was in construction. I carried this on in Australia but I always had a business drive and soon built a financial services career, building up a sales team in NSW.
A decade ago you were CEO and founder of MobileActive. Its focus?
In 1998, I saw the growth of mobile phone usage, and envisaged the growth of wireless communications on a handset. In 2001, there was a boom in mobile phone sales, which led me to co-found MobileActive, which was the first company in Australia providing mobile content to the consumer. Over the years, we evolved to provide a third-party mobile billing platform over 27 telecommunication carriers globally.
You are now CEO/founder of Leading Edge Data Centres (LEDC) in Sydney. What led to its creation?
I had travelled in regional Australia and experienced the poor connectivity, slow internet speeds, high price and lack of options that its residents face daily. I knew there had to be a solution where regional Australians have the same technology experience as metropolitan cities. I worked with a few experts in data centres, electricity and fibre connectivity, and the idea was born to create a network of interconnected data centres across regional Australia.
Its financial backers?
Directors of the company, Washington H. Soul Pattinson, SparkLabs and Cultiv8.
The current lack of providers means that businesses are limited in choice.- Chris Thorpe
Why is LEDC opening data centres in regional NSW, Victoria and Queensland?
The simple philosophy is to bring the ability to have compute power very close to the user to improve performance, reduce cost and bring access to the latest technology available to empower regional business and enable national enterprise to service regional communities and attract national enterprise to relocate their business and create many local jobs. Our data centres are designed to deliver fair, equitable and cost-effective access to broadband and connectivity to enable economic development in regional cities. The main issues that regional Australians are facing are high latency due to distance, lack of choice and high cost to connect to the internet. Most major regional centres suffer terribly from high latency and poor internet performance due to the internet traffic moving back and forth between locations. By moving the data centre closer to the end users, the internet traffic doesn't have as far to travel which provides much better experiences. The current lack of providers means that businesses are limited in choice. We can provide choice of multiple telco providers, which will create competition and a fair pricing landscape, driving down the cost to connect.
What capacity do they have?
The first data centres we're building are our Titan 75, which have 75 racks and a 375kW power capacity. They are scaleable and all built to a world-class standard, providing constant power, cooling and security. They are built to be suitable for all types of businesses, from government, emergency services, Tier-1 enterprise to a small local business. We can provide network connectivity to major Telcos, so customers can choose their preferred Telco supplier.
Why did LEDC partner with Megaport to provide direct cloud access?
Partnering with Megaport enables Newcastle businesses to connect directly to any major cloud environment, such as AWS, Microsoft and Google, within our facility in Newcastle, and avoid paying expensive fibre connectivity costs back to Sydney. This enables businesses to be more in local control of their IT infrastructure.The alternative is buying their fibre bandwidth to Sydney, incurring additional costs.
Clients can have private connections - how?
Customers have the ability to have their own connections into the facility to create their own Private cloud environment. We also provide the ability for them to cross-connect with any other suppliers within our Ecosystem to access technology services that they need. All of this bypasses the public internet.
Can households use it?
Our customers are all businesses, but households will benefit. Our customers will use the data centre to house their core infrastructure which allows them to connect to the internet and process their data closer to their office - this means faster speeds and better experiences for the business. Our customers are government, healthcare, agriculture, Telcos, education and IT providers who service the local businesses. We will also focus on bringing content businesses (Netflix, Stan) into our data centre so they can cache their content locally so households/communities will have better viewing experiences.
What is in the pipeline?
We will soon launch our Newcastle Data Centre, followed by Tamworth in April and six other deployments in NSW and/or VIC this year. We are building a property portfolio to prepare for our 2022 and 2023 deployments.
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