Safety First At Portugal Telecom’s New €90m Data Centre

Quizzed about PRISM, PT promised data “safety” at Europe’s largest data centre

Portugal Telecom (PT) has promised data “safety” in Europe’s biggest  data centre, an impressive €90 million building in the Portuguese city of Covilhã. But the firm dodged the question about PRISM and US government access.

The data centre, which is also one of Europe’s most efficient, is a confident move by PT, despite economic crisis and international investors’ lack of confidence in Portugal, and at a time when confidence levels in cloud computing have been severely hit by the PRISM revelations of snooping by the American National Security Agency(NSA).

PRISM: just a “rhetorical” question?

portugal telecom landscapeAsked about whether the NSA would have access to data stored in the data centre, Zeinal Bava, Portugal Telecom CEO, dismissed the question as  “rhetorical”, commenting:  “I’ll say that PT, in this data centre, was specially careful with safety, because we believe that is a latent concern, whether as a person, as a legal entity, government…We all know that, nowadays, data is essential and contains many industrial secrets, etc…and that is why safety is one of the main concerns. By choosing this data centre, this place Covilhã, this building with one hundred thousand square meters, we wanted to guarantee security.”

Portugal Telecom announced 37 customers at the launch, including IT services firms Accenture and Wipro, and three major banks.

However, these appear to actually be customers in its existing sites. At the launch, Bava told the press there are actually no customers yet in the Covilhã site – stressing that it is a “brave” move to open it.   Portugal Telecom will pitch the advantages of the data centre and its efficiency, aiming to sell storage and cloud services.

The company’s biggest challenge, says Bava, is to prepare the sales force to make that pitch, offering consultancy services to the customers, potential customers and partners.

The modular data centre will eventually have 75.500 square meters of space. The first of four blocks is open, includes six rooms with 520 square meters. It can hold 50,000 servers, and delivers a very creditable PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of 1.25.

Free cooling

The PT data centre uses “free cooling” with outside air, and no electric chillers, for 99 percent of the whole year. PT reckons it delivers an availability of 99.98 percent, and it has won a Tier III certificate from the Uptime Institute. In total, PT now has eight data centres with 56,000 servers and 33Petabyte of storage.

Bava believes PT’ will gain an advantage from owning the network ,which can offer fibre links up to 100Gbps, and fibre to the home for up to 1.6 million houses. The operator also has a 4G LTE mobile network which covers 90 percent of the Portuguese population and has fibre backhaul.  The company offers pay-TV and triple-play services, with a market share of 40 percent of the pay-TV market in the country.

The PT cloud service is available to all consumers as  the MEO Cloud storage offer, which provides 16GB of free storage, and is also offered to businesses through a cloud computing system that includes Software as a service (SaaS), Collaboration as a service (CaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Zeinal Bava, speaking to the BBC in London about the changing focus of the company said, “We have made this step because we are contrarians and we are believers in the fact that we needed to transform our B2C model away from telecoms and into entertainment. For our B2B customers, we are now servicing companies with IT solutions, cloud solutions and business process outsourcing. We have defied gravity to some extent as previously across Europe, such a move hadn’t happened.”

Euro Story: We publish selected stories from across NetMediaEurope’s network of European sites, which now includes six countries, thanks to the recent addition of B!T of Portugal. . This week’s story by João Miguel Mesquita is from B! It was translated and localised by Max Smolaks.

Watch the video: Our B!T colleagues have a luscious video of the new data centre. Watch it here, or scroll down below the gallery… 

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Portugal Telecom Data Centre

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Portugal Telecom Data Centre