Video: Inside the New Windstream Data Center in Little Rock

Windstream Corp. of Little Rock is set to open its first multimillion-dollar data center in Arkansas, a key part of its strategy to expand its managed business services and cloud computing businesses.

The 30,000-SF center, located at 15707 Chenal Parkway in Little Rock, provides cloud hosting and business services for clients in central Arkansas, as well as redundant data storage for other clients across the country. Now fully operational, the center employs 15 people so far, with additional staff rotating in and out as needed.

Kip Turco, Windstream's senior vice president of data center operations, gave Arkansas Business a tour of the new center, which the company will unveil at an April 19 grand opening event. Gov. Mike Beebe, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and Windstream CEO Jeff Gardner are scheduled to attend.

Turco said the center on Chenal Parkway is the first of its tier in Arkansas. Windstream has several smaller centers in Arkansas that house local phone or data systems, but the new center is unique in its level of power.

The center's two 2,250-kilowatt generators, for example, create enough electricity to power entire neighborhoods.

24/7 Clients

Turco said most of the customers using the center will have business applications that must remain secure and available 24/7. Clients will include mainly financial companies, software service firms, government agencies and hospitals.

The servers themselves, Turco said, operate on a "system plus system" configuration, which means for every server unit there is an identical unit to provide redundancy. The 9,000-SF server room features several levels of environmental safety including early warning systems for fires and water ducts under the floor to help cool the systems.

Since the center runs on an independent power supply, it features rooms — called "disaster recovery" offices — where clients can bring their own equipment in case of a power outage.

Finally, the center is intended to be extremely secure. Several electronically locked doors separate visitors from the server room, and the center is staffed and monitored at all times. The server room can only be entered by way of a biometric palm scanner.

Windstream's data centers are part of the company's overall move toward managed business services and cloud computing that began with its $310 million purchase of Hosted Solutions of Raleigh, N.C., in 2010. At that time, Hosted Solutions had six data centers. That number has now grown to 19.

"When Windstream bought Hosted Solutions … that was part of a long-term strategy to move into data centers and managed service space," Turco said. "This building is very representative of their desire to provide more services that are technically more complex and that deal primarily with enterprise and business customers."

Windstream built the data center with the help of Little Rock city government, which in May approved up to $30 million in city revenue bonds for servers and other equipment. Windstream purchased the data center property -- the site of a former National Home Center building -- for $2.7 million.

(Arkansas Business video by Trent Ogle.)