Since announcing an $11 million expansion to the Bluebird Underground Data Center in November of 2019, Bluebird Network has been dedicated to increasing its facility’s value, reliability and capability for customers. The expansion includes the addition of more than 11,500 square feet of white space and significant mechanical, electrical and power upgrades, bringing the facility to full Tier III status.
With the project recently completed, Bluebird Underground’s General Manager, Todd Murren, sat down with Data Center POST to answer some questions about the facility’s new abilities and how they deliver enhanced opportunity to customers.
Question: Bluebird has noted that this expansion was a result of growing enterprise and cloud service customer demands. Can you explain a bit more about what these demands are and what’s driving them?
Answer: Demands are coming from an evolution in a number of areas. Computing demands, storage demands, reliability demands and a demand for faster speeds. These are all changing, and the standard for their level of service is rising. What’s driving them is an overall desire for simplification. People are looking for plug and play solutions that are directed at making things easier for IT people. Everyone is crunched for time, so finding more available time will always be a premium benefit. What else is at a premium? Efficiency. Funding is increasing and people are under pressure to be more efficient, more effective, more responsive, more competitive and to manage costs. When you pay a dollar, if you can get $1.10 worth of value, you do it. Our expansion is addressing all of these demands and will ultimately be a competitive advantage.
Q: Industry advancements in cloud computing, the hosting environment, artificial intelligence and blockchain capabilities have specifically been mentioned as drivers for this expansion, can you tell us more about that?
A: An interesting synergy of all those things — cloud computing, hosting, AI and blockchain capabilities — is all of these things are potential advancements that can be outsourced. Honestly, fewer and fewer enterprise businesses are jumping right off the bat and doing their own colocation. When people say they’re taking their business to the cloud, there are several IT steps in that process, and those things are getting in the way of what they do to make money. So, they’re looking to get the IT stuff out of their house to focus on their business. There is a trend toward outsourcing technological help. That’s where we come in.
Q: How are these advancements changing the overall digital landscape?
A: It’s changing how we interact with customers and who we attract. Normally, we would approach a business like a hospital or a chain of banks, but in the digital landscape we see changing, there is a middle man between us and the customer — it’s the managed service provider (MSP) or the cloud service provider (CSP). This expansion is positioning us to better serve those customers — bigger customers like MSPs. That is the digital landscape for Bluebird moving forward. We’re a network provider, and we’ve got a data center — this puts us in a unique position to focus on the Clouds, the CSPs, the AI providers. We could end up full very quickly if we hit the right recipe, and I think we will.
Q: How is the digital world changing data centers?
A: Everything is getting smaller. However, footprint, power and cooling (all things our expansion brings to the table in much more capable and efficient ways) remain important because of the shift from CPU to GPU. The importance of that shift is that the GPU creates more heat and needs more power, so this expansion is only making us better and more suited to grow into the future.
Apart from meeting all of the basic needs, we’re a lot of clients’ first or second data center. Most big players or forwarding-thinking clients are located in multiple different centers. They do this for safety and redundancy. Well guess what, we’re 85 feet under the ground and N+1 at every critical infrastructure level. We’re a perfect option for safety and security, and we’re only making it better with this expansion. Don’t forget, we’re also a network company. We offer a complete solution because everything is here together.
Q: What does this expansion include, and how will these additions improve the facility or enable it to better meet the requirements of today and tomorrow?
A: Firstly, there’s more space, more power and a higher degree of reliability. Those are the things that matter most to our customers. Outside of that, we’re updating our operational control systems. There are two types of systems we use now: a BMS (Building Management System) and a DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management system). The BMS actually controls things; if something fails, this turns on automatically. If something is too warm, this piece starts up to cool it down.
After the expansion is complete, we’ll become much more efficient. The new DCIM will be a form of data collection. Think of it like the thermostat, the door lock, the smart doorbell, the cameras, etc. — they present us with information and then the human must execute x, y and z. Part of this expansion is bringing on a fully fledged DCIM product. We will be presented with massive amounts of information on how this center is running and what we can do to make it more efficient.
Q: What differentiators does the Bluebird data center offer and how are they advantageous for tenants?
A: There are a number of very important differentiators that make our services ideal for customer data requirements:
- We’re 85 feet below ground. A flood, a tornado, an earthquake — none of those things are going to stop your business. We’re N+1 at every critical infrastructure level, and we can run autonomously. We’re like our own little city.
- We offer a very unique, measured power service. You’ll never pay for a kilowatt hour you didn’t use. This is a huge advantage for managed service providers and cloud service providers.
- Our facility runs off of 40% renewable energy and we have incorporated a closed-loop water cooling system that doesn’t put undue stress on our local water supply or sewer systems.
- There is also a huge value in negotiating network connectivity at the same place you are colocating. We’re a unique place and I encourage any interested parties to reach out for a visit.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about how this expansion aligns with or supports the overall goals of Bluebird?
A: We want to grow our business and our service to customers as a highly capable, highly reliable and trusted provider in the Midwest. To do that, you have to own your own fiber — which we do. Another part of being a ‘big-time’ provider is owning your own data center that is second-to-none. This expansion alone is totaling $11 million, which communicates a clear level of alignment with where Bluebird wants to be and the company’s level of dedication to customers.
Q: Where can companies contact you if they’re interested in scheduling a tour or learning more?
A: Interested parties can visit us at www.bluebirdnetwork.com. Please reach out and we will work with you to schedule a tour. It’s quite an impressive operation to behold — you don’t want to miss it.