Data centers drive big investments: M&T, Yahoo projects look to future [The Buffalo News, N.Y.]
(Buffalo News (NY) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 01--The data center that M&T Bank Corp. is moving into was built to ward off failure -- and to handle much more growth.
The Amherst complex is served by power lines that connect to two separate National Grid substations. If both external power sources are disrupted, hulking on-site generators take over. The structure is sturdy enough to withstand most tornadoes and earthquakes.
Data centers are big on redundancy to protect information from being lost and to prevent service breakdowns. M&T even has a backup data center -- in Delaware.
The Buffalo Niagara region has a pair of significant private-sector data center projects taking shape: M&T's project and another by Yahoo. The M&T facility, built by HSBC in 2001, is being equipped to handle more growth at the bank.
The Yahoo facility is a prototype for centers in similar climates. It is cooled only by outside conditions and has no air-conditioning systems.
Both are being heavily subsidized with tax breaks, which has stirred controversy because the projects generate so few jobs. In the case of the Yahoo center, tax breaks and low-cost power have added up to more than $2 million per job created.
Advocates say the centers bring more than jobs to the region. They bring attention and prestige that could attract more projects, and they generate massive spending to keep operating and up-to-date.
Over the course of a decade, M&T expects to pour about $100 million into its new data center, as well as other space in Amherst that will be renovated. In the Town of Lockport, Yahoo is preparing for a $170 million expansion of a $150 million data center complex that debuted in 2009.
M&T is steadily moving into its fortress-like data center on Park Club Lane in Amherst, built in 2001 by HSBC.
Most of the concrete building is below grade, with thick walls and a berm protecting the exterior. The setting is ultra-secure because the technology being installed inside is at the high-tech heart of M&T's operations, supporting everything from customer deposit information, to consumer access to the bank's website, to company email.
"Our data center services our entire footprint," said Mark C. Kumro, M&T's group vice president of technology infrastructure operations. "It's not like this is a regional data center just for Buffalo branches, Buffalo customers. It services the whole corporation."
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