Building Next-Generation Data Centers
Eaton currently houses most of its server, storage and network infrastructure in two data centers near Cleveland, Ohio. However, one of those facilities is 43 years old, and the second is a third-party leased facility; both are beginning to run short of space and power.
In 2005, IT leaders at Eaton commenced work on a strategic effort to design and build new data centers capable of supporting the company’s needs reliably and cost-effectively for the next 20+ years. As sustainability is one of Eaton’s core values, the project also aspired to lead the industry in environmental responsibility by achieving gold status under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification process.
Realizing the vision
By the end of 2007, following 20 months of careful study, Eaton had developed a strategic plan of action. The company would construct two redundant data centers within 20 miles of each other. A third facility at least 250 miles away would provide out-of-region disaster recovery support in the event that the primary facilities became inoperable for an extended period.
Eaton then spent 20 months carefully evaluating and selecting best-of-breed companies for its project team in specialties such as project management, engineering, architecture, commissioning and construction.
Next, Eaton employed a rigorous, risk tolerance-based selection process to identify ideal sites for the two core data centers. Based on our chosen networking provider’s global footprint, project leaders narrowed their list of options to locations in the U.S. Then they looked for regions inside the U.S. with a low historical incidence of natural and man-made disasters. A review of disaster data from the federal government led them to 15 specific metropolitan areas. Each of those areas was then checked against a list of additional requirements, including access to adequate energy supplies at competitive rates and the availability of financial incentives from county and state governments.
In the end, the project team identified the corridor between Louisville and Lexington, Ky., as the area that best met Eaton’s site selection criteria, and ultimately purchased two pieces of real estate east of Louisville and approximately 14 miles apart from one another.
One of the sites is located near the University of Louisville and was nicknamed the “Red site” in honor of the school’s colors. The second site was named the “Blue site” in honor of the University of Kentucky’s school colors. The overall project was then named Project BlueGrass in honor of Kentucky being known as the "Bluegrass State." Design and architectural specifics construction began on the Blue site in February 2010 and the Red site in June 2010. When fully operational in 2012, both data centers will be cutting-edge facilities from top to bottom.
Project BlueGrass vividly demonstrates how companies that take a disciplined approach to designing, building and equipping new data centers can deliver IT services reliably, cost-effectively and sustainably. Thanks to the rigor with which vendors and locations were selected, as well as the leading-edge infrastructure resources, power quality equipment and monitoring systems we chose, Eaton will soon be equipped to support at least 20 more years of IT growth while conserving water, energy and natural resources in ways that will generate tens of millions of dollars in savings. The good news for other companies is that they can achieve similar results by employing the same best practices.