Securing Digital Assets

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


The company's current data center, with a capacity for 1,700 servers, is nearly full, but clients will be located in the expansion by early next year, owners said. Hundreds of customers are represented in the data center, Seliger said.

The name change will become official Jan. 1. TierPoint refers to four tiers, or classes, of data centers.Unlike large, private data centers planned by firms like Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp. for Grant County, TierPoint targets medium-sized businesses, seeking to provide high-level services those companies otherwise might not be able to afford.

"We also have the good fortune that there really isn't anybody with this kind of facility in this part of the country," Daines said.

Daines, founder of World Wide Packets and Packet Engines, purchased what became the Liberty Lake Internet Portal building, 24303 E. Mission Ave., in 2000 and later expanded it to its current 38,000 square feet. In June 2005, Daines bought an adjacent parcel from Robotic Process Systems for a two-story expansion. TierPoint is moving its offices into the new building, which will also include more rental office space.Construction of the approximately $9 million project started this summer.

TierPoint touts the relative security of its Eastern Washington location, sited only a day's drive from major Northwest population centers but considered less prone to earthquakes and other disasters.

"It previously had been the idea was we would fly to some big fancy center that IBM had in Denver or Atlanta or wherever they had it," Daines said. "But in 2001 companies realized they couldn't rely on flying to the backup data center."

That quality attracted Seattle-based outdoor equipment manufacturer Cascade Designs Inc., known for its Mountain Safety Research and Therm-a-Rest brands, said Terry Stokes, IT operations manager for the company. Cascade Designs hosts its Web sites and keeps real time copies of its customer- and internal-work orders on servers at the TierPoint data center as part of its disaster-recovery plan. Now, if Cascade Designs' Seattle operation is disrupted, its sister facility in Ireland could continue operations remotely, Stokes said. While Cascade Designs looked at other places to host, none were built specifically for preventing service interruptions, he said.

"The question you have to ask yourself is: How long can I afford to be without technology resources, and how much does that cost me?" Stokes said.

Inland Northwest Health Services -- which provides electronic patient records and IT support for 36 regional hospitals -- backs up its data there every few hours, said chief information officer Fred Galusha. INHS has used TierPoint as a second data center for almost a year, and it will probably create a third site outside the geographic area, Galusha said.

Spokane-based Huppin's Hi-Fi, Photo and Video also houses servers for its online store, www.OneCall.com, at TierPoint. The company had hosted the site internally, but decided to move it after experiencing interruptions, said Kent Schafer, IT director.

In 2005, the company secured a contract with the Washington Department of Information Services as the exclusive Eastern Washington provider for redundant server hosting for state agencies -- a deal that has been extended through 2010.

TierPoint also functions as a place where different telecommunications companies or Internet service providers intersect. By maintaining connections to several companies, including Qwest, OneEighty Networks and AT&T, TierPoint can switch clients between carriers in the event of an emergency.

"Their infrastructure is as good as it gets," Barbieri said.