Kentucky Creates Right Environment for Data Centers

GE Appliances & Lighting’s call center in Louisville, Kentucky.

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On Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 10:07

With its highly competitive power costs and highly reliable telecommunications infrastructure, Kentucky offers major advantages for the location of data and cloud computing centers.

The state is home to 11 co-location facilities as well as data center operations for a number of major companies.

GE Appliances & Lighting, for example, completed a $48 million refurbishing of its existing building for a new data center in Louisville's Appliance Park in 2011. GE says it was the first LEED Platinum data center in Kentucky.

The data center is 34 percent more efficient in energy savings than a typical code-compliant building. Its servers are designed to operate at 18 to 24 kilowatts per cabinet, compared to the industry average of 4 to 7 kilowatts, providing the company with the computing horsepower to meet ever-changing customer demands.

In June 2012, Charlotte-based Peak 10 selected Louisville for its fifth cloud cluster, a location that stores business-critical applications and data. The company opened three data center facilities in Louisville from 2004 to 2011, choosing the state for its low power-generation cost and tax incentives. Totaling 25,000 square feet, the facilities are built above a 100-year flood plain.

A $250,000 incentive from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority bolstered Peak 10’s multimillion dollar investment, expanding capabilities for local businesses needing to outsource all or part of their IT infrastructure.

Kentucky is one of seven states served by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which contracted with Deloitte Consulting for a site assessment study to identify suitable locations for data centers. 

In August 2011, the city of Hopkinsville and Logan County, both in western Kentucky, were certified as future data center sites by Deloitte Consulting through a contract with TVA.

In addition to excellent accessibility, strong telecommunications infrastructure and the availability of reliable electric power, other criteria set by TVA included locations not in proximity to a railroad, major gas line or fault zone. The 315-acre Hopkinsville site, designated the Hopkinsville Data Park, is ready for data center development in 2013. The Logan County location is a 109-acre site in Adairville.

Cloud-Based Telephony

Kentucky native Dale Cooper chose Lexington as the headquarters for Xact Communications, a company he started in summer 2012.

Xact is on the front end of the new wave of cloud-based telephony services, providing business telecommunications and data products nationwide with new carrier-grade switches.

“We don’t have the traditional legacy switches and equipment that the big-name companies have," he says. “It will take them a dramatically longer time to switch to these new networks.”

Another Kentucky company, Louisville-based ConeXus World, plans to expand its operations in 2013. The company is investing $1.8 million to add a 7,200-square-foot technical center to handle support and dispatch operations for customers around the world in the mobile telecommunications industry.

ConeXus’ other services include digital signage technology and maintenance, consulting, integration and management.

Project Bluegrass

Eaton Corp. is a Cleveland-based power management company producing products and services for the automotive, aerospace, electrical, hydraulics and trucking industries.

In 2011 Eaton opened not one, but two data centers in Kentucky. The company’s Project Bluegrass Red site is in Louisville and Project Bluegrass Blue site is in nearby Simpsonville. Both centers are LEED Gold certified, and the company expects to generate more than $23 million in energy savings from the new data centers.

Built into the design of the new centers is an aggressive Power Usage Effectiveness, or PUE, rating. The rating was developed by The Green Grid, a technology industry consortium dedicated to raising energy efficiency of data centers. The PUE is an industry recognized metric designed to reflect a data center’s power efficiency by dividing the total power entering an IT facility by the total power consumed by the IT equipment located in the building.

“As a power management company, finding innovative ways to enable our customers to reduce energy costs and to use power more efficiently, effectively and safely is central to Eaton’s mission,” says Alexander M. Cutler, Eaton chairman and chief executive officer.