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Global financial firm a natural fit for the North Shore
“We like scandals,” is how president Shannon Rogers describes where her multimillion-dollar company’s bread is buttered.
The proud West Vancouverite and president of Global Relay, a world-leading financial communications firm headquartered in Gastown, says that after the corporate accounting scandals of Enron and WorldCom, and the 2008 global financial crisis, her company’s expansion across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver was a natural move.
As natural, in fact, as the cool sea breeze.
You see, Global Relay makes its money as a keeper of secrets, recording who said what and when in the world of high finance.
To do so, Global archives any and all electronic communications such as emails, instant messages and texts between more than 15,000 financial institutions in 90 countries, including 22 of the top 25 global banks.
“Every time there’s a scandal like a financial scandal in the world, more legislation comes down and we do well,” Rogers tells The Outlook. “That’s where we can really help out because rules come down saying you have to preserve your data, protect investors more, and an archive is a great way to do that.”
But since 2008, those new archiving requirements from the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission [SEC] and our own Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada [IIROC] have meant many more messages for Global Relay to process and store.
And while all that data is stored digitally, it still requires scads of space and heaps of power to house.
Twenty-four thousand square feet and four megawatts — enough to power 4,000 North Van homes — to be exact. And for every megawatt of power used to store data, another megawatt of cooling power is typically required, explains Global founder and CEO Warren Roy.
That’s where the company’s new state-of-the-art data centre on North Van’s waterfront comes in. Hailed by the company as “Canada’s first truly green data centre,” the $20-million, three-storey work-in-progress at 22 Gostick Place is slated to come online next April.
Once operational, the real-time data storage facility will function at less than a third of the electricity costs of conventional data centres — much of that savings arising from a free-air cooling system powered by the fresh harbour breeze.
“In North Vancouver’s climate, you can drop the temperature 15 to 20 degrees, which is more than good enough for servers to operate,” Roy says on a warm and windy morning at the data centre site.
How it works is evaporative cooling — a process by which huge harbour-facing air intakes will pull outside air into the building at a rate of 150,000 cubic-feet-per-minute, putting it through water-cooled filters before pushing the moist air through the data storage warehouse and out the other side of the building. The only electric power required is the fractional amount of hydro needed to turn the fans.
“European clients especially are really concerned how green the technology is that they choose,” Roy says, explaining why it was important for Global to go green on its first in-house data storage facility.
Despite the building’s size and capital cost — an additional $20 to $30 million will be spent to furnish the data servers — it will be staffed by a team of just 16 Global employees, most of them new hires, according to Roy.
And happy are those few. Because, if Global Relay’s well-appointed Gastown office is any indication, the company gets the whole work-life balance thing.
“Because we’re competing with Google and Microsoft and EA [Electronic Arts Canada],” says Rogers, “you have to have the lounge and the free food and the Wii, the bubble hockey and the foosball and, of course, the beer machine.”