Downtown data center keeps running despite flood
CEDAR RAPIDS - With floodwaters swirling around them in the streets of downtown Cedar Rapids, about 20 employees of the Involta computer data center have kept their facility running in the Armstrong and Granby buildings.
By George C. Ford
Rob Smith, Involta chief marketing officer, said the data center, which serves about 20 clients, was forced to resort to a number of portable generators after main power failed on Friday.
"With a lot of cooperation from the Cedar Rapids police and National Guard, we were able maintain essential network services and never left our facility," Smith said. "We managed to keep the switch gear in the basement of the Granby Building and the network gear in the basement of the Armstrong building operational.
"We kept the electrical switch gear up and running until the water reached 27 feet. When we realized it was going to go higher, we brought in a generator from Peoria on Thursday morning that's about the size of a semi truck.
"Unfortunately by that time, the water was higher than the switch connection points on the building."
Smith said Involta switched to eight small generators, losing power to the core network for about 20 minutes while it made the appropriate connections.
"We've had people running five-gallon cans of gasoline through the building to keep the generators running," Smith said. "We moved some customers to other partner data centers and we moved ImOn Communication's e-mail server into some space it still leases at AEGON Financial Park.
"Dynamic Broadband was a tremendous help to us. We're really proud of the way our employees pulled together and kept things going."
Smith said Involta is offering computer network connections, work space, computers and phone lines at Hawkeye Community College, Des Moines Area Community College and other locations. For information about acquiring space and technical support, businesses should contact Michaela Coyle at (319) 364-3061.
Smith said Involta hopes to hook up the large backup generator in the alley of the Armstrong/Granby buildings as early as today.