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When Businesses ATAC: Duffield Data Center is unmatched in the US

February 5, 2008
By Scott Robertson, The Business Journal

There is nowhere in America where businesses can outsource their data storage and be assured that they will have access to that data , even if the host shuts down part of the distribution path. But that's about to change.

The OnePartner Advanced Technology & Applications Center (ATAC), located in Duffield, Va., has achieved certification as the nation's first and only commercial Tier III facility. Tier III is a designation created by The Uptime Institute as part of a system of measuring reliability of service. It means that every component of the distribution path can be removed from service on a planned basis without causing any computer equipment to shut down.

The OnePartner Advanced Technology & Applications Center (ATAC), located in Duffield, Va., has achieved certification as the nation's first and only commercial Tier III facility. Tier III is a designation created by The Uptime Institute as part of a system of measuring reliability of service. It means that every component of the distribution path can be removed from service on a planned basis without causing any computer equipment to shut down.

"Tier I has no redundancy, just simple infrastructure," explains Mac Scofield, ATAC manager. "Anything that faults creates a disruption in the delivery of services. Tier II, you put in some redundancy, but you still have certain points that are single-threaded and thus will fault as soon as something hits those. In Tier III every component can be withdrawn from the infrastructure without affecting the delivery of service. It's an exponential step from Tier II to Tier III."

The ATAC will be online in June, says Tom Deaderick, director, OnePartner. "There are three suites. We have one already leased to Bank of Tennessee. We're meeting with Eastman Credit Union. We've met with K-VA-T Foods. We've met with some other organizations and I'm confident the suites will be contracted before we open. From then on we plan to sell one cabinet every two months."

Phase One has 50 cabinets. Phase Two will have 43 cabinets, says Deaderick, and OnePartner is looking for a single large client to make use of that entire portion of the facility. "We see competitors who have much less capability than we have who are already sold out, so we know we'll sell out," says Deaderick.

"We already host Carespark, which will have all the medical records for the entire region," adds Deaderick. "Add to that the ATAC, as a one-of-a-kind facility in the United States along with OnePartner Research and you've got a real basis for healthcare informatics. The giants in that field will want to look at us as a great test-bed for developing new software. The economic development potential for the region is huge."

"There are no certified Tier II data centers outsourcing anywhere," adds Deaderick. "so we're not just one step ahead of everybody else. We're two steps ahead. It's impossible for some people to believe that, but we're building something here that's unduplicated anywhere else in the nation."

Some competitors might nitpick and say there are data centers that meet Tier II standards, admits Deaderick, but the operators of those facilities have not opted to seek certification. Why would they? "Tier II just means that you have points of failure," says Scofield, "and you wouldn't want to advertise that."

"Look," says Deaderick, "you've got all these guys without certifications running around saying, 'We're Tier this and Tier that.' The truth is that maybe five percent of those guys have even seriously considered going through the certification process. You go to a lot of these hosting companies and they'll say, 'We have a 100 percent uptime guarantee,' but that doesn't mean they won't go down. What that really means is that they'll just give you money back when they go down. That's all they can promise because they're not Tier III. Well, what's that worth? I mean, if you have to shut down payroll or you can't take orders because they went down, would you rather have 5 or 10 percent of your monthly bill refunded or would you rather just have what you need when you need it?

"We're not just giving you money back when it goes down," says Deaderick, "because it's never going down."

"Well we have invested more than most companies have in this availability strategy," Scofield says. "We have gone as far as we can to ensure availability. I don't like to say it'll never go down, because never is an awfully long time, but we are the only ones that have made this investment to provide this level of assurance to our clients. There are no other Tier III data centers available out there."