Securing Digital Assets

Critcal data and server storage site ties in top security technologies to protect its clients

Sep. 16--Locked doors secured by keycard readers and biometric scanners lead to an underground chamber beneath a Liberty Lake office building.

Inside the climate-controlled room, closed-circuit cameras continuously watch hundreds of computer servers, some locked in metal cages, as the omnipresent whir of electronics fills the air.

Nearby, banks of large batteries and diesel generators stand ready to provide backup power for more than a week. A host of high-speed fiber-optic pathways from different providers connects the equipment to the Internet.

Owners of Liberty Lake Internet Exchange LLC (LLIX) hope that for businesses that store their Web sites and other crucial digital information at the company's roughly 6,300-square-foot data center, those measures represent peace of mind in an economy where lost data may translate into lost dollars.

The center's architects say they have tried to prepare for every contingency to keep clients' data secure from human intruders, cyber attacks and natural disasters. The corporation has attracted customers ranging from banks to medical groups that pay to keep the data available and flowing.

"The true value that we deliver is we give our customers really a world-class facility to make sure their business stays online and humming and available that they really might not otherwise be able to afford," said co-founder Octavio Morales.The company houses customers' servers and offers Web hosting, data backup, managed IT security and residential Internet service to a growing list of clients. The makers of Therm-a-Rest camping pads back up their data on servers housed there, as do regional hospitals through Inland Northwest Health Services. The center hosts Web sites for Huppin's Hi-Fi, Photo and Video, Red Lion Hotels and this newspaper.

For Red Lion, its online presence is "an absolutely critical component to our business and needs to be up all the time," said David Barbieri, chief information officer for Red Lion Hotels Corp., based in Spokane. "It all is exactly what you would expect it to be from a very high-quality data center."

The four-year-old firm, backed by Spokane computer luminary Bernard Daines, is about to evolve. It's completing a 54,000-square foot building expansion that will more than double the size of its data center, looking to branch out from serving Inland Northwest and Seattle-area customers by targeting Portland and introducing new services. And it is undergoing a name change to become TierPoint, a title owners believe better reflects the firm's efforts to become a world-class provider of "business continuity" services.

While Daines remains a TierPoint employee, day-to-day operations are handled by part-owners Morales, Dan Seliger and Greg Zemp, some of whom worked with Daines on past ventures. TierPoint has about 25 employees, owners said.

"Spokane now has many businesses to whom the network stream of information is absolutely mission-critical 24 hours a day," said Steve Simmons, director of the Center for Network Computing and Cyber Security at EWU.

TierPoint's owners declined to disclose revenues, but Morales said they have roughly doubled every year and that the company is profitable.

While TierPoint's business continuity services primarily drive revenues, it also offers regional, residential Internet service as WebBand and Web site hosting as Webiness.

This content continues onto the next page...