CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charlie Dennie, vice president of Alpha Technologies of Hurricane, is a soft-spoken, low-key guy but his eyes sparkle and he breaks out in a grin when Alpha's data center is mentioned.
"Let me show you the difference between a room with computers and a data center," Dennie said on Wednesday at the beginning of a tour of Building 6000 at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park.
Building 6000 was erected by Union Carbide Corp. in 1977 to serve as the corporation's data center. The Dow Chemical Co. acquired it when it bought Carbide in 2000.
Alpha Technologies bought the 79,700-square-foot building from Dow in June for $6.1 million.
HP Enterprise Services, a division of Hewlett-Packard, currently occupies a portion of the building. About 100 HP employees work there on a federal government contract.
Alpha plans to continue using the building as a data center, providing data storage, disaster recovery, cloud computing and other services to state and local government agencies and commercial customers. Dennie said there is ample space in the building to meet just about any customer's needs.
The key ingredients for a data center are power, cooling and redundancy, Dennie said. A tour reveals that Building 6000 has all three. Some power system and redundancy highlights:
n The building has four primary and two secondary, diverse connections to the power grid.
n There is an entire power substation inside the building. There are two 480-volt systems, each capable of producing 1.5 megawatts. "The building could be run entirely on either system," Dennie said.
There also are two 208-volt systems. "It's a lot of juice any way you slice it," Dennie said. "This is just the coolest place. This is the heart of the building. Diversity and redundancy rules the day here."
Dennie said the building originally didn't have any battery backup system that could be used if its robust power system failed.
"In 1998 they had the primary power supply offline for maintenance," he said. "A squirrel shorted out the second system and basically shut down Union Carbide for a whole day. A $5 hunting license would have solved the problem, but they spent another $6 million to build this annex."
Dennie led visitors into a series of rooms. First he showed off a large panel that monitors the power system.