Shared data centers provide security

The cost of building a data center can become very expensive when additional maintenance, security measures and fire protection systems are factored in. For many small to midsize businesses, that cost can place a heavy burden on a budget and has many looking to co-locate their main and back up IT systems in an off-site facility.

According to Jeff Lowney, vice president and general manager for TW Telecom, formerly Time Warner Telecom, there has been a greater need for data protection since 9/11.

“Businesses are more concerned with protecting their information. There is more of a need to store data outside of their main location, and the cost of an in-house system has pushed businesses to find shared environments like ours.”

Milwaukee based CCI recently finished production on a data center in its facility for its SAP customers.

“The trend is to look for a firm that can host their hardware and deal with the day to day work of supporting the care and feeding the servers for email and applications a company uses day in and day out,” said Chris Carter, chief executive officer of CCI.

A recent study conducted by the Baltimore Technology Park, a data center and the largest carrier neutral facility in Maryland, broke down the costs to build a small to midsize business (SMB) building an in-house data center. Those costs can range from $500,000 to $1 million when factoring in general room construction, advanced electrical system, HVAC systems, fire suppression and security. Costs to maintain that facility can add an additional $300,000 according to the study.

However, according to Carter, using an offsite data center can reduce those costs by 50 or 60 percent.

TW Telecom, a provider of managed voice, internet and data networking solutions for businesses, recently expanded its current facility in Brookfield to include 3,375 square feet of additional data center space and new state of the art equipment for disaster recovery and system backups.

The TW Telecom facility features a state-of-the-art fire suppression and prevention system with non-intrusive gas, an HVAC system to keep the space and equipment cool, three different fiber cable entries so as to never lose connectivity, its own generator plus additional batteries, and a biometric security system with 24/7 access.

At least one major local health care provider and a financial institution has either its primary or back up data located in the facility, and according to Lowney, the space is flexible and can be used for large companies to purchase a suite or small companies that may only need one cabinet.

“The cabinets or cage space are essentially racks stacked up on the floor, a company can choose to have as little as one or two cabinets for their systems or they can purchase what we call a suite which is usually a larger space and is determined based on what the customer needs,” Lowney said.

“We also offer what we call a warm site area for our clients,” Lowney said. “In the event of an actual disaster a company might have all their data backed up but no-where to put their people.”

The warm site area allows the first two companies who call in after a disaster to use a space in the TW Telecom facility that has a system of working phones and cubicles already set up for use.

“Their entire operation can essentially be run out of our location right where their systems are located,” Lowney said.

According to Lowney, the TW Telecom data center can also provide connectivity to any other carrier in the Milwaukee marketplace. 

TSR Solutions, Inc., a Germantown provider of technology and communication solutions for businesses, recently acquired a downtown Milwaukee data center. The TSR Data Center provides co-location, hosting, disaster recovery, backup and managed services in a carrier neutral, secured environment.

“A lot of small to midsize businesses can’t justify the cost associated with hiring a full time personnel to maintain their expertise to build in house,” said Tim Radtke chief executive officer and president of TSR Solutions.

Businesses are looking for a “bank” to keep their data safe, Radtke said.

“We as a data center have the same responsibilities to protect, manage and secure that data, and making it easily accessible has become more and more important for our customers as well,” Radtke said.

According to Radtke, the 5,200-square-foot facility, offers space for many kinds of businesses, ranging from 25 employees to 1,000. The building is fueled by two power grids, equipped with redundant power supplies, including both generators and back up batteries, and has cross-connects with providers such as ATT, Norlight, US Signal, Savvis, Level 3 and Cogent.

Not only is co-locating its systems in a shared environment less expensive for a company, according to Carter there are other benefits related to staffing, helpdesk capabilities and other needs.

“We have an entire helpdesk with skilled people ready to assist,” Carter said. “The company people don’t need to deal with updates they aren’t familiar with or the discontinuation of products. Company staff can focus on the business and the data center staff can focus on the back office maintenance and efficiency.”

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