Spotlight: Qscale is bringing green growth to Quebec
Spotlight: Qscale is bringing green growth to Quebec
Quebec-based data centre firm Qscale hit a significant milestone on its journey to disrupt the Canadian data centre market this week. The company, which was founded in 2018, specialises in designing, building, operating, and managing high-density data centres with an emphasis on sustainability. Currently, Qscale is working to bring its first major facility online, and the announcement made on July 13 that the company has recently secured CA$195mn in funding brings it a vital step closer to success.
The company’s first campus was first announced back in June, and hailed as a substantive step forward for high performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning in the province.
According to Québécois news outlet LeSoleil, Qscale has reportedly purchased 75,000 square metres of land in Lévis with an option to purchase an additional 36,000 sqm by 2024. The company has said it plans to split the campus across two buildings of five floors, each with a floor area of 41, 625 square metres, for a total footprint of almost 86,200 sqm (900,000 sq ft).
In addition to a $60mn investment from Desjardins Capital, as well as $45mn from private Québécois investors, the provincial government has invested $90mn into the campus - partly through direct investment and partly through a $30mn purchase of company shares. The funding will be used to support the first phase of the site which is slated for completion by the end of 2022. Qscale has yet to confirm the capacity of phase one, but notes that the finished campus (which will be rolled out over a total of eight stages on an as-yet unknown schedule) will have access to more than 140 MW of locally generated hydro-electric power.
It’s somewhat rare to see local government investing in data centre projects run by private firms, but the provincial government in Quebec has been enticed on board by a series of innovative green design features that will the Qscale’s Lévis facility deliver no only sizable digital infrastructure, but also advance the government’s own sustainability and agricultural targets.
Growing Green in Quebec
Not only will Qscale’s Lévis campus be powered by renewable energy (Quebec has access to one of the best renewable energy mixes in the world, with a 99% renewable grid powered almost exclusively by hydro generation), but the project is also taking an innovative approach to waste heat recovery.
The company is building multiple large greenhouses on its site which, it claims, will be fed with enough waste heat from the data centre to produce “help to produce 2800 tonnes of small fruit and more than 80,000 tonnes of tomatoes per year,” once the project is fully deployed. Qscale’s spokesperson added that this aspect of the project was one of the key reasons that the local government agreed to come aboard, noting that “This project could also contribute to filling Quebecers' pantries by providing energy to greenhouses, an industry that the Quebec government wants to develop.”
Martin Bouchard, QScale's president, said that "QScale embodies Quebec's aspirations in terms of the economy, knowledge and sustainable development. It is an innovative integrative carbon-negative project with an eye to the future. It is the work of a lifetime, and I am fortunate that the conditions aligned for this project to become reality.”
Microsoft hyperscale plans prompt Lab3 New Zealand launch
Lab3, an Australian cloud migration specialist, has announced it is launching in New Zealand after being prompted by a surge in demand for cloud services and Microsoft’s investment into hyperscale data centres.
The company, which was founded in 2017, has appointed David Boyes as Chief Executive Officer and Rich Anderson as Chief Operating Officer. According to Companies Office records, Boyes and Anderson each have a 10% share in Lab3’s New Zealand business. Commenting on cloud migration, Boyes said: “Across New Zealand, in government and every industry sector, organisations are looking to migrate to the cloud to modernise their technology environments.” He added that the Coronavirus pandemic was fuelling a “ need to tap into the power of data, facilitate remote work and meet public expectations of a virtual world.”
Chris Cook, Group CEO of Lab3 said the business was "first and foremost about client success" which drives the company’s product innovation and motivation to expand into New Zealand. “We look forward to working closely with Microsoft to deliver more for New Zealand clients,” he said.
Microsoft’s New Zealand hyperscale data centre investment plan
Microsoft’s investment into a hyperscale data centre region in New Zealand meant the resulting facilities will aim to provide several organisations with access to the security and scalability of a public cloud without sending data offshore.
Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, said: “We’ve seen a tremendous acceleration in cloud migration over the past year as organisations have responded to global disruption and conversely, recognised the global opportunities a digital operation brings.
“Our research with IDC shows public cloud technologies are set to create 102,000 local jobs and add [NZ]$30 billion to the New Zealand economy over the next four years, so we’re delighted to welcome a partner of LAB3’s calibre to New Zealand, to help more organisations realise those gains even faster," she added.
Lab3’s clients include several fintech organisations, a global software vendor, Australian federal and state government agencies, and insurance and banking corporations. The company employs over 200 staff and has three advanced specialisations across migrations, Azure virtual desktop, and security.