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Philadelphia region will be home to the Northeast's first Advanced Data Center

Keystone NAP Campus View Diagram

Most of us can use a computer application -- from Facebook, to an insurance exchange to a data store for a research project -- without thinking about the servers where all that information actually lives. Right now, all of the U.S.’s advanced data centers (ADCs) operate from Florida or locations in the Southwest. Keystone NAP wants to change all that by opening the Northeast’s first ADC in Pennsylvania's own Fairless Hills.

Currently, the major metros in the Northeast -- New York, Boston, Philadelphia -- have what Keystone NAP founder and CEO Peter Ritz calls "plain old data centers," which were adequate as recently as the 1990s, but in today’s web-scale world can't cut it.

"In the last two years, we have created more data, more bits of data…than all the time before that," explains Ritz. He compares today’s old data centers to telephone landlines: adequate for doing business ten or fifteen years ago, but rapidly growing obsolete.

The servers at those centers don’t have the capacity and scalability that today’s up-and-coming tech giants (and local mid-sized businesses) need, and with a single connection to a traditional power grid, they’re vulnerable.

Remember Hurricane Sandy?

"People don’t think about it, but what happened there is that people had a single source of connection to the grid in their data center," he says of widespread computer system outages after the storm. "They had to pray and they had to beg to make sure they would get the diesel fuel delivery."

Keystone NAP's ADC will have the data service capacity to house the equivalent of eight Googles. It's special not just because of its location and its data capacity, but because of its innovative approach to power.

"It’s the steel-forging shoulders that we stand on," says Ritz of how the region’s historical infrastructure makes this possible. Instead of a single connection to the power grid, the Keystone NAP facility will operate with the help of five distinct power sources, including gas turbines and a nearby trash-to-steam plant burning refuse from a local landfill.

Ritz describes the individual servers as looking like rectangular pizza boxes, stacked as many as forty high in specialized shelving. It all generates enormous heat: fifty percent of any data center’s energy budget goes to cooling those servers with air or water-based systems.

Because not every business's server has the same energy needs, Keystone NAP is offering a uniquely secure and modular approach to power dubbed KeyBlocks. It’s common for a data center to host multiple entities’ servers, but bringing that eco-friendly customization to the powering of the diverse servers is another thing that sets the facility apart.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Peter Ritz, Keystone NAP

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