By Bob Lofton, Senior Director, IT Foundational Technologies at NetApp
Have you ever wondered how NetApp decides where the company’s next data center will be deployed? It’s actually a long selection process with a laundry list of criteria that a hosting city needs to meet before we even consider a site. Some criteria at the top of the list include both geographical and technological requirements, such as the city’s track record of supporting high-tech firms; standardized permit and inspection processes; good relations with local power companies; and stability of the region from a climate and natural disaster perspective.
As NetApp’s core products and solutions portfolios expand to support the rapidly changing IT and business requirements posed by trends like virtualization, the cloud, and big data, developing an agile, efficient data center infrastructure to support our corporate programs nondisruptively is imperative. That’s why we take so many factors into consideration and why several vendors are considered for the job. In Fall 2010, we realized that we needed to find a site for a “lights-dim” production data center to increase operational efficiencies and collapse two existing California-based data centers in Sacramento and Sunnyvale into one central facility. As part of NetApp’s larger data center strategy, we looked for a new location to support our customer-facing and internal back-office corporate systems.
In working with Digital Realty Trust, Inc., a provider of data center solutions to more than 10% of Fortune’s Global 200, we sat down with the local governments at each site under consideration and quickly went from 12 candidates to 3 finalists. The City of Hillsboro, Oregon, really rolled out the red carpet for us and proved to be the best municipality that I have ever worked with. They are savvy about data centers and we didn’t need to educate them about the facility requirements or the impact, which was a major bonus.
Other key benefits that the City of Hillsboro offered are enterprise and e-commerce zone benefits, no sales tax, and proximity to an airport with regular flights to both Sunnyvale, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina. The quality of technical talent in Hillsboro was also a significant draw for us, since it supports NetApp’s culture of a collaborative and open environment in which employees are treated as our greatest asset and encouraged to drive innovation. The tech-savvy talent in Hillsboro was a major incentive to opening the data center in this region.
As part of this new data center rollout, NetApp is leasing the 5.1-acre property in Hillsboro for 10 years and expects to invest another $40 million in equipment and employ roughly 10 people. All future NetApp business applications will be built in this data center starting in October 2012 and all existing business applications that are internally hosted will be migrated to this facility over the next three years. We are excited to be part of the City of Hillsboro’s economic development by driving jobs and IT business in the area, and we are thrilled to start realizing the operational benefits of our new, agile corporate data center.