October 1, 2014

After $18M makover, old grocery store is high-tech computer firm

Multi-million dollar computer server farms are taking up residence amidst Iowa’s actual farms.

A vacant grocery store in a Davenport suburb is now a data center after an $18-million renovation.

Scott Rubins, president and CEO of ColoHub, says companies will lease space there for computer servers, either for backup or for their primary website and data servers.

Rubins says putting information on the “cloud” is becoming increasingly critical, from Social Security numbers to credit card information.

That data “needs to be in a place like this so nobody can access it, you can control it, it’s climate controlled,” he says. “The power is always on. It’s very important these servers are up and running all the time.”

Security at the former Bettendorf Eagle store includes 26 cameras inside, nine cameras outside, armed guards and swipe-card access through all doors.

Rubins says data security also relies on dependable electricity and a lot of it, enough to power about 7,000 homes.

“We have back-up generators, we have redundant cooling systems,” he says. “Everything here is built in pairs, in twos, so that if one fails, the other picks up the entire load, thus the rather large price tag.”

The data center officially opens September 1st, but possible clients from Boston, California, and even India have already paid it a visit, with at least one client already preparing to move in.

In recent months, Iowa has become a hub for high-tech computer technology, including: Microsoft expanding in West Des Moines, Facebook building in Altoona, IBM in Dubuque and Google expanding its server farm in Council Bluffs.