The mayor joined technology and business leaders last week for the public debut of a new data center in the Navy Yard.
Typical parks attract more children than adults. However, grown-ups enjoyed their own brand of fun at the public opening of a 25,700-square-foot data center on Oct. 20. A $25 million investment, Philadelphia Technology Park, 4775 League Island Blvd., in the Philadelphia Navy Yard promises protection of information technology infrastructure for regional companies.
Before a crowd of about 100, Park President Corey Blanton lauded the day as a celebration of technology and commerce. With fellow industry heads and Mayor Michael Nutter flanking him, he spoke of helping businesses to find storage for their information so they may focus on improving their core competencies and increasing capital.
“This building will allow us to address companies’ most common requirement for their data, including bandwidth, cooling, power and security,” Blanton said. “We are looking to eliminate any fear, uncertainty or doubt that people may have with how to go about data preservation.”
To banish worries, the park exists as a single-use, fully redundant repository. Full redundancy allows a provider to give a client backup, so to speak, for its information. The provider offers its site for colocation, which erases a client’s prospective temptation to build its own data center.
“Dealing with us keeps folks from having to pay $2,000 to $5,000 per square foot for such construction,” Blanton said.
It also allows clients to bring in their own equipment and run it in a temperature-controlled raised floor. Federal and state agencies require organizations to maintain primary and secondary data depots. With their reaching customers and employees through the Internet, those parties have come to need to house their computer servers and other components of their IT infrastructure.
“We are here to provide network support, and we do so using various tools that guarantee an uninterrupted power supply,” Blanton said.
Those instruments include an on-site fuel tank, AC power systems that deliver 120- and 208-volt service, power cabling, a fire suppression system and a 1.6 megawatt generator that would ward off the effects of a power outage. Intense security also would quell any unease over parting with material.
“We have Navy Yard security from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., a period when few people are here. We are also looking to have three levels of security before people reach the data floor,” Blanton, who joined the park in May, said.
Along with providing a relaxing outcome for clients, the park will generate income for the 20 to 25 people it expects to hire for technical positions within the next three years. An advocate of making Philadelphia a technological force, Nutter joked about lacking an understanding of Blanton’s diction.
“When you mentioned colocation, fully redundant servers, high-density power and bandwidth, I had no idea what you were talking about,” he said shortly before cutting the ribbon leading to the storage units. “The one thing that really makes my heart race is jobs. If we’re speaking about jobs, we’re speaking the same language.
“We’re fighting our way out of a recession, and places like Philadelphia Technology Park are helping to make Philadelphia a prime location for business.”
The park officially opened Sept. 14 and employs six workers. It follows in the technological footprints of its sister corporation, Baltimore Technology Park, itself a relative newcomer at four years old, and works closely with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) to assist mid-Atlantic region companies’ data management.
Following Nutter’s snipping, Blanton led executives on a tour of his nominal park. The first stop revealed the cabinets and racks where much of the data will go. The Baltimore facility, according to its president, Jim Weller, includes 300 racks in use by 60 clients. Blanton expects his cages to number around 400 if the beginning months of operation prove successful enough. If they do, he has plans for the creation of another 25,000-square-foot palace.
Built above the 500-year floodplain — an area that could experience a flood having a 0.2 percent probability of occurring in any given year — the facility also has suites of up to 10,000-square-feet available, as well as a private data room, supply storage and conference space. To date, it has attracted a few clients and is looking to interact with many businesses, including the 100 that Mark Seltzer, PIDC’s director of leasing and development, oversees.
“We are looking for any company of any size to join us,” Blanton said.
Law firms comprise part of the park’s clientele, and Blanton noted he has received interest from three universities and numerous enterprise companies. Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties boast 92 colleges and universities and thousands of businesses, so Blanton’s hopes of offering services have spiked courtesy of consistent outreach and feedback.
Its Navy Yard location should assist Blanton in making his structure thrive. The country’s first naval shipyard, it became a part of the U.S. Navy in 1801. It closed Sept. 30, 1995, but over the last 15 years has become a major multi-use office, research and industrial park, fostering banks and serving as the home of several companies’ corporate headquarters.
“We have five-and-a-half million occupied square feet,” Seltzer said of his sprawling terrain.
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