How can data center operator Enterprise Technology Parks offer a 99.999% uptime guarantee?
When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast last October, wreaking millions of dollars in property damage and knocking out power across the region, many businesses learned a tough lesson about data continuity. “Sandy was a wake-up call for many companies that did not outsource their IT infrastructure and data storage,” says James Weller, co-founder and CEO of Enterprise Technology Parks (ETP), which operates data centers in Baltimore and Philadelphia. “An event of that magnitude makes businesses aware of just how dependent they are on having continuous access to their data.”
As dramatic as Sandy was, it represents just one of many threats that businesses relying on sensitive mission critical data must deal with. In fact, Weller points out, “a local or building power outage can be just as bad as a hurricane,” not to mention fire, flood, equipment and cooling failure, and security breaches. It is no surprise that one of ETP’s strongest selling points is “peace of mind.” ETP’s customers are located mainly in the mid-Atlantic, but are as far-flung as Chicago, New York, Texas, and Mexico. They include major hospitals, law firms, and insurance companies, and they entrust their mission-critical data to ETP.
ETP establishes trust with clients by providing critical infrastructure systems including full backup power, HVAC, and security management. This permits the company to offer clients a service-level agreement including a 99.999% uptime guarantee. “Our uptime promise to our clients is at the heart of what we do,” says Corey Blanton, COO, “and Comcast is a central part of that.”
No Two Solutions Alike
Perhaps the starkest differentiator between ETP and its competitors is the local focus that allows the company to work closely with clients of all sizes. “All of our clients are unique, and they all receive customer solutions,” Blanton says. “We are a midsize company that really caters to every individual customer’s needs in a nimble fashion.”
Similarly, its partnership with Comcast lets ETP bring high-level communication solutions to customers large and sall. “We count on world-class connectivity to help our customers utilize our services,” Weller explains. “For many of out clients, we represent the first time they have moved data off-premise. The next challenge is to connect to that data so that they can always access it. Comcast can help bring our smaller enterprise clients online with connectivity that is already in the ground and ready to go.” Products such as Comcast Ethernet Data Service can connect customers to ETP’s colocation centers with fiber optic service that provides high bandwidth and increased efficiencies. “The biggest thing Comcast has brought to us is connecting us to customer we had no access to in the past,” Weller concludes.
While data security and accessibility are primary drivers behind ETP’s sales, they are not the only ones. Colocation also offers efficiencies and scalabilities not available to businesses maintaining their own IT infrastructure. “If youare handling everything in-house, buying servers, ann air-conditioning a data room, then it can be nearly impossible to hit that sweet spot of capacity,” Weller says. “Frankly, it is not an efficient use of capital compared to colocation, which ensures that the dollars are being spent properly.”
“Entrepreneurship at its core is about all the things a business does every day,” says Tom McGee, national managing partner at Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services. “It’s about being open to innovation in everything you do, from core operational issues to your relationships with employees, customers, and suppliers.”
Balancing Demand and Quality
This speaks to probably the greatest challenge that ETP faces: keeping up with the exploding demand in the marketplace. “The big challenge throughout the industry, and certainly one we face in these markets, is inventory,” Weller says. “The supply-and-demand imbalance today is creating a pretty fast pace for new builds. However, in order for us to maintain a high level of quality, it is not something we like to rush. We are constantly working on making sure we have enough premier data-center space for our clients.”