Spark buys South Island cloud gem: CCL

In March 2014 the New Zealand Herald sent me to Christchurch to write a series of features on the city’s rebuild after two earthquakes. While in town I visited the CCL data centre not far from the centre of town.

CCL or Computer Concepts Limited played an important role for the city during the and immediately after the quakes. Christchurch companies who had the foresight to commit early to cloud computing were among the first to restart following the quakes.

CEO Andrew Allen says one of the advantages he had was the business was deemed an essential service. This meant CCL could get into restricted areas, recover data early and help customers get back on their feet. You can read my interview online, it’s at the bottom of the main story.

At the time I was impressed by CCL. Allen told me in confidence the challenge he faced was that cloud computing was consolidating into ever bigger centres and ever bigger businesses. CCL had few opportunities to make acquisitions and its regional focus limited growth. Allen feared the company might struggle to find the investment needed for further growth.

So it was no surprise to hear that Spark Digital acquired the business earlier this week for NZ$50 million. It’s a good move for both parties.

CCL adds to Spark Digital’s earlier purchases Revera and Appserv. It strengthens Spark Digital’s position in the South Island and brings the company’s total investment in New Zealand cloud businesses to over NZ$150 million.

That may not compare with the money being spent by global cloud players like AWS, Microsoft or Google, but in a local context it is a huge deal.

Spark Digital is building up a head of steam with its cloud offering. One thing separating Spark Digital’s business from other cloud service providers is that it operates both the data network and the data centres. Customers get to deal with a single service provider in both departments and can keep both aspects of their operations in synch.