Hawkins builds Microsoft’s new data center. Photo/Michael Craig
The growing use of the internet has led to the development of multi-billion dollar new data centers or server farms in the northwest outskirts of Auckland for giants Microsoft and DCI Data Centers.
The two North West projects are at Westgate where
only one is worth around $100 million and above and two others are worth over $600 million.
The first two new buildings are on Kakano Rd off Gunton Dr, Westgate.
In January, the Herald reported DCI Data Centers planned to spend $600 million on two new facilities – one in Westgate, the other in Albany.
The pandemic has accelerated a boom in cloud computing or the use of internet-based software and services, such as Zoom and Slack, Netflix and multiplayer games.
In February, the Herald reported how Auckland’s multi-billion dollar data center boom has only gotten bigger with Amazon announcing it will be launching a new local AWS (Amazon Web Services) zone in Auckland, along with Netflix and potentially TVNZ and Spark as main customers.
Hawkins won the prime contract to build Microsoft’s first new project worth over $100 million.
This building is the most advanced of the three, its superstructure and a tower crane on this site which has a precast concrete installation on the street front.
Naylor Love won the second contract to build the new DCI data center project nearby, but that building is less advanced.
None of the builders would discuss the plans, citing customer confidentiality.
A building manager revealed that a non-disclosure agreement had been signed which meant there were no conversations with the media about the project.
DCI Data Centers is also said to have built a second center in Auckland for around $600 million, this time in Albany.
Data centers like to keep their hubs private for a variety of reasons. Data centers are notorious for the amount of electricity they consume, largely thanks to air conditioning to cool servers.
But in the US, Microsoft has focused on solar power and other clean energy solutions and the company has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
The two new Westgate data buildings are on the opposite side of Kakano Rd from the new Costco fuel depot where since last Tuesday 26 sailors have started giving out petrol and diesel for around 20c to 30c below prices elsewhere.
Costco’s temporary membership office is on the same side of the road as its new gas station. Employees from Australia have also been working in this office for the past few days after arriving here last Monday for Tuesday’s service station opening event.
the herald reported last year that Microsoft purchased land for over $100 million.
Microsoft’s purchase of land was greeted in 2020 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“It signals to the world that New Zealand is open to quality business and investment. Microsoft wouldn’t invest here if they didn’t have full confidence in the New Zealand economy and see us as a safe place to operate in both health and health.” business acumen,” Ardern said in May 2020 just after the pandemic hit here.
Microsoft has about 100 data centers around the world but has never had one here, so its site selection matters.
Microsoft NZ chief executive Vanessa Sorenson told the Herald last year that the company would build three data centers at different locations in Auckland to create what she calls a data center region.
Last June, the Herald reported The DCI Data Centers project is part of a sudden boom in this type of building.
They were clustered around northwest Auckland.
Malcolm Roe, chief executive of DCI, said the Westgate project would be just the start of his company’s push into New Zealand.
“This site is the first stop for us in New Zealand and we are currently finalizing a selection of additional sites to meet strong demand,” Roe said last June.
“Increasing cloud usage in New Zealand is driving demand for multiple high-capacity, environmentally-friendly data centers and other related infrastructure in the country. We are pleased to play a key role in the development of this vital part of the digital economy. His business targets corporate and government clients.”
He anticipated that two or three more data centers would be built on this side of Tasmania.
Stage 1 of Westgate construction was budgeted at $70 million. More stages would be added in what would become a 10-megawatt facility (supermassive or “hyperscale” data centers are generally described by the electrical load on their computing systems), the Herald reported last year.
Roe wouldn’t put a price tag on Westgate’s total build, but server farms typically cost hundreds of millions.
The CEO said New Zealand appealed because more than 80% of our electricity comes from hydroelectric sources. His company is reportedly looking at options to go further green by “closing that 20% gap”, but they wouldn’t include solar panels – as it would take 15 hectares of solar panels to power a 10MW server farm.
As part of the deal with Microsoft, the Overseas Investment Office has approved its purchase of land from Southland resort owner and developer Mark Gunton’s NZ Retail Property Group.
Having Costco, Microsoft and DCI means Gunton has secured three of the biggest companies in the world on its site which also has New Zealand’s biggest Bunnings as well as the biggest Pak’nSave.