When Doug Hollidge, CEO of North Carolina-based Five 9s Digital, told the city council at a recent work session that "all systems are go" for a data center in Eagan, he wasn't kidding.
Hollidge confirmed that his company is close to signing an agreement with a property owner to build the facility in Eagan.
In May, Five 9s Digital was hired by Eagan to conduct a feasibility study surrounding such a project, and was given first right of refusal to build it if the study confirmed the conclusions of the Technology Working Group that a demand exists for such a data center.
Currently, all business fiber provider's lines route into and out of the Twin Cities metro area through what is known as the 511 building, an oddly-shaped building on the outskirts of downtown Minneapolis, once owned by Control Data, that motorists pass when exiting and entering Hightway 94 near Mall of America Field.
The fact that the 511 building is the only such facility in the region makes it, in technology parlance, a single point of failure - which means that there are no back-up fiber routes should something happen to that builidng.
The Eagan data center project, named Project Connexion, will offer much needed redundancy for companies and carriers needing extra up-time insurance and will also offer back-up data storage for companies needing a disaster recovery location where they can still run their business and access their data in the wake of a catastrophic event at their main data hub.
According to Eagan Director of Communications Tom Garrison, the feasibility study looked at a myriad of factors in determining first, if in Eagan, and then where in Eagan, such a undertaking made sense.
The study looked at factors such as the availabiity of electrical and water service and the probabliities of a tornado, earthquake, or flood. The location also was specifically chosen because is not in critical take-off and landing flight paths from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
"It's so impressive to see how many factors go into this kind of analysis and how many things they look at in terms of the number of factors they evaluate and score," Garrison said. "They are very thorough."
Although Eagan funded the feasibility study, the data center will be a private enterprise. Eagan acted to get the ball rolling, so to speak, to help ensure that such a facility would be built in the city and not somewhere else in the region.
"The council has shown expceptional leadership," says Garrison. "It is praiseworthy of the city council to have the vision to attract this type of facility [which will serve to] stabilize and attract additional investment to the community."
City Administrator Tom Hedges explains that in January, 2011, the city council adopted goals surrounding 'infostructure' specifically to attract additional technology.
"The council sees the value in the retention of business and economic growth in the future" that goes far beyond the borders of Eagan, said Hedges. "What's good for Eagan is good for Dakota County."
Five 9s Digital is in the process of getting committments from potential tennants. Hollidge's company has had numerous conversations with a number of parties, both in the local and regional business communities that have expressed interest.
"We feel we will be able to transition that interest into actual committments," Hedges said.
Hollidge says Eagan has a "robust business community and substantial fiber connectivity from numerous fiber and telecom providers so the fiber infrastructure is in place and the corporate community is very well connected."
If all goes as planned, he anticipates being able to break ground by January.