11-19-13 | Blog Post

Bringing Client Focus Into the ‘Sticks and Bricks’

Blog Posts

It’s official! We have a new data center in Metro Detroit. We’ll be opening another world-class facility where we can continue to keep data safe and secure. We’re excited about the long road ahead of us with this new Michigan data center facility; the building is incredibly well fortified and will provide additional options for our clients. But with all that’s ahead, I believe we can sometimes lose sight of just how much goes into getting where we are. I had the opportunity to speak with Michael Kowal, our Director of Business Development, about what he does day in and day out to get us into these new spaces.

Kowal’s process was explained to me as 4 legs on a stool. When he’s at a data center, there are four distinct categories he’s looking at: network, public utilities, tax base, and physical property. First is the network. Is there a good concentration of fiberoptics in the area? The second is the general utilities. “I try to get a feel for how the power is brought into the building” Kowal explained. “What’s the size of the utility feeders? What’s the redundancy look like both at the site and how it is delivered from the substation? How reliable is that infrastructure? How many outages happen per year in that area?” The third category is the tax base. Are there incentives we can take advantage of by being there, and what economic development has happened within that area? Lastly, there’s the physical property: “The sticks and bricks. Is it an existing building? If so, what does the exterior look like? What is the structural integrity of the building?  What was it used for previously?  How old is it?  Where is it in relation to the closest flood plain? Also, people. We’re looking for talent in the area. What’s the crime rate like? General safety?”

Kowal explained that finding the right facility is like looking for a needle in a stack of needles, “They all sort of look the same from the outside. It’s about doing your due diligence.”

I asked Michael what he felt the most important aspect of a facility is while he’s doing this due diligence. His answer was a combination of the network and utility. Online Tech’s focus is on compliance, security, and high availability. Physical security is easy around the building, but being able to access multiple ISPs and have that redundancy in case one goes down, that can be a bit harder. The fiber line can be a single point of failure in some facilities. Luckily for Online Tech, Michael holds the opinion that “if you have one, you have none. If you have two, you have one.” Expecting the redundancy that our clients are going to need means choosing a facility that allows us to continue to stay connected, even if a line goes down. He’s also thinking of the future. “What’s going to drive growth long term will be the people with high availability and connectivity, and who are able to scale on their power. The power and network consumption we’ll need for our clients will go up over time”.

Why is this so important? “Companies, now more than ever, are aligning IT with the core strategy of their business. What we do is an enabler to help people carry out their business needs. It’s humbling, because you’re essentially asking someone to entrust you with their livelihood. This is mission critical. It can’t go down.”

Michael Kowal isn’t spinning up your servers or answering your support tickets. But on a broader level, he’s making sure no matter who you are, and no matter what you need, we at Online Tech can help you solve your problem. Bringing that client focus into the ‘sticks and bricks’ of a data center is how we set ourselves apart from the rest, and our exceptional people make it that much easier to do so.

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