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Posted February 7, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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The 'IT' factor: Middletown data center given new lease on life

Gerry Fay of Experis
Gerry Fay, managing partner of Experis Data Centers, stands beside a row of storage cabinets in one of the computer rooms in the former AT&T facility in Middletown. The newly renovated data center offers disaster recovery and co-location services for private firms and federal clients. Rich Cooley/Daily

emergency work stations
The facility features 175 emergency work stations. Rich Cooley/Daily

By James Heffernan — Daily Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN — What if you could move your organization’s critical information technology — networks, servers, storage equipment — off site, saving you time and money and freeing you up to focus on your core business?

Better yet, what if that remote location offered data backup and recovery services, even an emergency operations center to ensure you stay up and running in the wake of a disaster?

After more than nine months and $25 million in renovations, the former AT&T data center south of town will be back on line later this month, with plenty of bells and whistles to woo both private companies and federal clients in search of IT solutions.

Experis Data Centers of Bethesda, Md., purchased the 81,000-square-foot facility from AT&T in April. The telecommunications giant is now a tenant, occupying a little more than a third of the building for disaster recovery operations for the Department of Defense.

AT&T’s presence is partly what drew Experis, a spinoff of Experis Technology Group, to Middletown when the firm went shopping for sites in late 2007, according to managing partner Gerry Fay.

“They were looking to downsize,” said Fay, who began developing data centers for T-Rex Capital after the landmark 1996 Telecommunications Act. “By buying the building, we were able to keep AT&T happy, restructure their lease and put in some tenants of our own.”

The site, 80 miles west of the nation’s capital and independent of the Washington power grid, is ideally suited for co-location and disaster recovery services for the Washington market, Fay said. A Western Union processing facility before AT&T purchased the property in 1992, it has operated without interruption for over 35 years.

As an added bonus, the building contains office space, conference rooms, a cafeteria and 175 emergency work stations equipped with computers, telephones and Internet hookups.

Nearly 30,000 square feet of IT storage space is available for rent, with racks ranging from single cabinets to large customized cages and private suites. Each computer room features raised flooring and industrial air conditioning units to keep the equipment running cool.

Fay said while the federal government has come to recognize the benefits of using shared data centers, protecting information technology is still a low priority for many companies.

“Half the known universe operates out of a room that has inadequate space and power to maintain operations 24/7 over time,” he said, adding, “You can never have enough money for IT.”

Experis is targeting mostly small to medium-sized firms in the Washington area, as well as local companies that use significant bandwidth, including hospitals, medical practices, banks and law firms. The facility serves a mix of co-location and disaster recovery clients, for whom the building amounts to an insurance policy.

Some clients are more comfortable handling their own networks and are simply looking for a place to store their servers and equipment. But Experis’ team of engineers also can help price, install, test and operate new systems.

“We can do everything for you, or we can do nothing but hand you the key,” Fay said.

Not surprisingly, security is tight, with barbed-wire fencing and vibration sensors along the perimeter of the property, closed-circuit camera monitoring and electronic entry throughout the building.

The exterior features a blast-resistant polymer coating and fire protection technology known as Citadel. The spray-on coating is designed to withstand the force of a 220-pound TNT bomb detonated within 33 feet.

Fay said the Middletown site has been tested, and “it passed with flying colors.”

Data centers are exceedingly difficult to finance, costing about $1,000 per square foot, but Fay said Experis is well capitalized. The firm has its sights set on another facility in the Richmond area.

For more information, visit www.experisdatacenters.com, or call (240) 223-0607.

Contact James Heffernan at jheffernan@nvdaily.com

1 Comment | Leave a comment

    -- The telecommunications giant is now a tenant, occupying a little more than a third of the building for disaster recovery operations for the Department of Defense. ---

    Did Experis just out AT&T and say that AT&T is still in the building doing disaster recovery work for the DOD? Are you kidding me?

    My guess is AT&T won't be there for long now...good job Gerry Fay! Way to go and lose your biggest customer - dumb dumb.

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