The Intersection of Property Development and Information Technology


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-By Aleisha Parr

While the general practice in property development is to make a quick turnaround on the sale of newly developed properties, the Henry Kendall Group takes a vastly different approach, preferring instead to hold its properties on a long term basis, adding value to them through the delivery of specialised – and highly valuable – services.

“Our business is a hybrid mix of property development and service delivery,” explains Damien Wilde, Henry Kendall Group’s General Manager. “For this to be effective the property that is being developed needs to be in the right position and have the necessary attributes required for its proposed use.”

With experience in property development spanning three generations, Henry Kendall Group has a rich history spanning back to the 1950s. Establishing itself as a specialist in residential subdivisions and buildings, the group eventually shifted its focus to the retirement village industry in the 1980s, and was quick to expand into the self-storage and childcare facility sectors. Henry Kendall Group’s evolution into Information Technology isn’t as far a cry as it may seem; as leaders in the retirement village industry in Australia, the group recognised the untapped value potential of developing the sites and then following through with the provision of services to the residents of these properties. “Because we are not only developing property but are delivering services related to that property, our people are critical,” says Mr Wilde. “Ultimately services are delivered by people, not by properties. So, our people are just as important, and probably more important, than our property selection.”

He elaborates: “We look for committed people who can work together cooperatively and constructively… to deliver the best service that we can. As an organisation for us always to be responsive to the needs of our target market we are dependent on the commitment and dedication of our people to see that this happens.”

Although the retirement village aspect of the business was sold in 2005, it was this paradigm shift which earned Henry Kendall Group the distinction as NSW’s largest privately owned retirement village operator, a platform which has enabled the company to continue to expand its capabilities and offerings. With its most recent focus on the technology sector, the company is poised to make its most significant contribution to the property development field.

Says Mr Wilde: “Data centres sit at the intersection of Property Development and Information Technology.” Even with the many unique challenges and trends in the data centre industry, the distinction in offering it creates is well worth the trouble for the dynamic Henry Kendall Group, likely better suited for this sort of challenge than any other property developer in the region.

These challenges can vary from increased costs, the need for more power and increased efficiencies, through to the need for simplification of IT environments for traditional “brick and mortar” data centre facilities. Additionally, the nuances involved in high density computing, the uptake of cloud computing, and environmental sustainability practises all require critical attention as this industry develops. Mr Wilde’s latest “pet project”, The Verb Data Centre, is a response to these challenges and trends within the industry.

Together with company Chairman, Patrick Wilde, Damien undertook the process of securing a site on the Central Coast well serviced by fibre infrastructure and power, the technologies of which have advanced over the last few years to eliminate the tyranny distance, making the site viable for the construction of a data centre. In partnership with industry experts in managed services and the delivery of data centre services (including Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and Cisco), the company has built one of the most technologically advanced data centres anywhere in the world. This was made possible by the use of Hewlett Packard’s POD (Performance Optimised Datacentre) technology, allowing for the deployment of a modular and highly energy efficient data centre.

“Data centres utilising the same or similar technology to the Verb Data Centre have been deployed by the likes of Google, Microsoft and Verizon in the Northern Hemisphere but we were the first in our region. Everything about the facility is best of breed and focused on delivering increased efficiencies to customers.”

The rate of electricity consumption in the data centre industry is rapidly increasing, leading to damaging levels of carbon emissions. In fact, in the next year or so, the data centre industry is predicted to surpass the aviation industry in carbon emissions. This trend is not only dangerous for the environment, but also affects the efficiency of businesses, and is reflected in their bottom line.

However, the HP POD technology deployed by Henry Kendall Group at its Verb Data Centre is 60% more efficient than a traditional data centre, passing on the savings to both the environment and Henry Kendall’s clients. “When I was at school,” shares Mr Wilde, “I had an inspirational geography teacher who was the first person to open my eyes to the precarious state of our planet. I take this issue very seriously. We don’t simply pay lip service the concept of sustainability it’s an integral part of our overall business model.”

Henry Kendall Group’s long-term goal is to utilise the Verb Data centre as a hub for a technology focused business park, merging the complementary goals of sustainable building design and efficient ITC infrastructure. The Centre will enable high speed, high density computing power to be attainable at a significantly lower cost for businesses, aiding in the process of future development in the area. Damien Wilde is confident that this will have a remarkable impact on employment and opportunities for education and economic growth for the Central Coast.

“We have always believed that continued and long term success in business can only be achieved if the focus of the business is not on what it can get out of its activities but rather on what contribution it can make to the community that it serves. In a changing world it is essential that an organisation constantly reassesses the relevance of its contribution and makes the adjustments necessary to remain relevant and of value.”

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

July 16, 2020, 10:02 AM AEST