Server-packed buildings form backbone of Information Age

  • KATHY DAY / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, November 11, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News

By KATHY DAY

Herald Writer

Ever wondered where your click goes on a Web site?

As Jay Garthwaite of Infoage Services puts it, it goes to a place where “a symphony of events occurs … the hums, bumps and whirs” that happen before you get your information.

That place, which he’s in the business of helping to develop, is the “infrastructure part of the Information Age,” he explained.

It goes by one of several names: data center, server farm, colocation center or telecom hotel – or the latest moniker, data fort. It’s a building filled with servers that make the direct interface with the Web, memory banks and the content itself, Garthwaite said.

“Content needs a place to live and it must be served up quickly or it’s no good,” he said.

Garthwaite’s company, a consortium of people who used to work for or with Microsoft, is working with developers on nearly four dozen centers around the world, including several in Snohomish County. The idea is to pack as much equipment as possible into a small space to make them as economical as possible.

Equipment is stacked in racks 7 to 9 feet high, as tight as it can be packed, and must be operable 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also has to have “five-9s,” 99.999 percent accuracy. Today those racks can pack up to 60 servers per rack, as opposed to the 2.8 they handled only a few years ago.

Centers come in varying shapes. There’s “machine space,” which is essentially all equipment – and very few people, or “people space” with what Garthwaite calls “benches for the digital blacksmith.”

In the latter case, a company can “rent a cage” or an enclosure where it can set up its own equipment and have secure access to it. In the former, company officials may never step inside the center, preferring instead to contract with the data center to manage the equipment for them and have a “place to place their stuff,” he explained.

Companies with intense needs for servers and reliability will pay several thousand dollars per square foot a month for this type of service, Garthwaite noted. In fact, developers are collecting rents that are typically twice as much as they get for first-class office space, he added.

And they’re good business for communities, he noted, because they don’t generate traffic, don’t have great parking needs, and don’t put students in schools. But they do generate tax revenues, he said.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

magniX employees and staff have moved into the company's new 40,000 square foot office on Seaway Boulevard on Monday, Jan. 18, 2020 in Everett, Washington. magniX consolidated all of its Australia and Redmond operations under one roof to be home to the global headquarters, engineering, manufacturing and testing of its electric propulsion systems.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Harbour Air plans to buy 50 electric motors from Everett company magniX

One of the largest seaplane airlines in the world plans to retrofit its fleet with the Everett-built electric propulsion system.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Driver arrested in fatal crash on Highway 522 in Maltby

The driver reportedly rear-ended Jeffrey Nissen as he slowed down for traffic. Nissen, 28, was ejected and died at the scene.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
3 charged with armed home invasion in Mountlake Terrace

Elan Lockett, Rodney Smith and Tyler Taylor were accused of holding a family at gunpoint and stealing their valuables in January.

PAWS Veterinarian Bethany Groves in the new surgery room at the newest PAWS location on Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Snohomish hospital makes ‘massive difference’ for wild animals

Lynnwood’s Progressive Animal Welfare Society will soon move animals to its state of the art, 25-acre facility.

Traffic builds up at the intersection of 152nd St NE and 51st Ave S on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to weigh in on how Marysville will look in 20 years

Marysville is updating its comprehensive plan and wants the public to weigh in on road project priorities.

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyko Matsumoto-Wright on Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
With light rail coming soon, Mountlake Terrace’s moment is nearly here

The anticipated arrival of the northern Link expansion is another sign of a rapidly changing city.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
1 dead in motorcycle crash on Highway 522 in Maltby

Authorities didn’t have any immediate details about the crash that fully blocked the highway Friday afternoon.

Photographs in the 2024 Annual Black and White Photography Contest on display at the Schack Art Center on Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Black and white photos aren’t old school for teens at Schack Art Center

The photography contest, in its 29th year, had over 170 entries. See it at the Schack in Everett through May 5.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett mom charged with first-degree murder in death of son, 4

On Friday, prosecutors charged Janet Garcia, 27, three weeks after Ariel Garcia went missing from an Everett apartment.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.