Data center to open in Baker Tower

Written by ED MERRIMAN Baker City Herald - Baker City Herald - June 23, 2010 02:05 pm

Richard Chaves and his partners are investing $1 million to launch Synergy Data Center and Services in the historic Baker Tower building, with hopes of eventually bringing 100 high-tech jobs to Baker City.

Chaves said three Oregon companies, including his own, Chaves Consulting of Baker City, along with Arikkan Inc. of Salem, are forming Synergy Data Center and Services (Synergy DCS).

Through Synergy DCS, the partners will be investing about $1 million in Phase I of the project, which involves installing 42 racks, each with 36 computer servers, and related equipment needed to get the data center up and running on the third floor of the Baker Tower.

The 10-story structure, built in 1929 at the corner of Main and Auburn and known originally as the Hotel Baker, is the tallest building east of the Cascades.

Phase I includes about $600,000 for the servers, electrical wiring, backup generators, raising the floor, lowering the ceiling and installing air conditioners to keep the servers at or below 60 degrees.

Chaves said the initial investment also  includes $200,000 to $250,000 for computer equipment just to monitor the data center, as well as $100,000 to $150,000 in consultant costs and set up fees for the servers and surveillance system.

Phase I is scheduled to be finished in July.

Initially the data center will employ “a couple of” workers, Chaves said.

“A data center in itself doesn’t require a lot of employees because we’re basically monitoring other businesses’ equipment,” he said.

The job-creating potential comes from expanding into other related services, Chaves said.

One such project, which is not yet finalized, could result in an estimated 100 jobs over the next two to three years, he said.

That project involves a state agency that is looking at setting up a redundant server system at Synergy DCS that will collect and store everything that is keyed into the agency’s primary server in Salem. Chaves said that redundancy will ensure that the agency can function without a glitch or shutdown in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or some other disaster that strikes the primary servers in the Willamette Valley.

In the next five years Chaves’ group hopes to invest several million dollars to expand the data center to 20,000 square feet, and to attract customers ranging from local, national and international businesses to city, county, state and federal government agencies, as well as school districts in Oregon and elsewhere.

Chaves said the vision behind Synergy DCS is to create and gain recognition as one of the premier data hosting providers in the nation, while creating family-wage jobs.

Entry into some areas of the data center will be permitted only to workers and others with scan ID badges, and entry to the most secure areas where the servers are located will require palm print identification, like people might see in a movie or television show, Chaves said.

Chaves said an executive order signed last fall by Gov. Ted Kulongoski directing state agencies to consider locating services and staff in historic buildings around the state when feasible is giving the Baker Tower a boost in attracting business from state agencies.

“We have heard at the state level that discussions are taking place among the agencies about the governor’s directive, which gives us a better chance of hosting agencies,” Chaves said. “So being in a historic building is definitely improving our chances of landing a state agency.”

As a location for housing computer servers, Chaves said Baker City has a big advantage in cost savings over metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles or even Portland, including lower labor costs and, compared to L.A., a cooler climate that limits the need for power-hungry air conditioning.

Currently, Chaves Consulting provides servers people from all over Oregon tie into and have all of their information here, so they can do their work over the Internet.

However, Chaves said that’s different from what the new data center will provide through Synergy DCS.

“With the data center, we are going to have multiple private and public entities that will have their servers here, with access from wherever they are, and we will be hosting their info,” Chaves said.

“For some of our customers we will be their primary hosting system, and for others we will be a redundant site, primarily for use when their primary system goes down, it will switch over to our system and they won’t miss a beat,” Chaves said.

In order to serve small business clients as well as large businesses, agencies, schools and organizations, Chaves said Synergy DCS will make partial rack server space storage available to buy or lease.