Liquid Web opens 'cloud'-enabling data center

Lansing, Mich. – Web hoster Liquid Web Inc. opened a new data center on Wednesday. The 90,000-square-foot facility took about 15 months to build at a cost of around $80 million.

The company estimates that the data center has the capacity for 25,000 servers and will add 600 employees. That large head count is mainly because of Storm, the new cloud computing platform Liquid Web plans to roll out late this year or early in 2010.

CEO Matt Hill said Storm will compete with other major cloud offerings such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. The basics are this: Instead of customers renting physical servers in a data center, they buy services as needed. So if a retailer needs more compute power around the holidays, it can ramp up its infrastructure using a Storm API, and then scale it back down when the busy season ends.

The facility is largely vacant now as it just opened, but Hill said the company hopes to fill it out in three years.

Read the full transcript from this video below:  
Liquid Web opens 'cloud'-enabling data center

Mark Fontecchio: Hi, I'm Mark Fontecchio from SearchDataCenter. I'm in Lansing, Michigan today attending the Grand Opening of a data center from Liquid Web. They are a web hosting company based in Lansing. This data center is a 90,000 square foot facility. One of the unique things about it is the company is billing it as a so called “cloud computing data center.” I'm not really sure what that means so we're gonna go inside and ask them and see if we can figure it out.

Matt Hill: Thank you for joining us today for the Grand Opening of Liquid Web's 90,000 square foot “cloud computing data center.”

Well it's a flexible computing platform. So, what it allows people to do is provision servers quickly and easily, and be billed only for what they use as well. So, instead of server being this almost an immobile unit where you decide you want it and you're stuck with it for months, you can provision a server within minutes. Then as your website grows, or if you just have a busy few weeks, you can fluidly resize that server to be twice or four times as large, just for that  period,  and scale it back down. You only pay for the hours where your server is larger, beyond which the price competitiveness of the base product isn't even more expensive than servers are today.

Mark Fontecchio: So, say I'm a customer of yours and I want to use exchange. Maybe that's how it would work, I don't know. I want to use exchange for a certain number of hours per month. Is that the kind of way it would work?

Matt Hill: It would be more like, if you're using exchange, you'd normally purchase a server from somebody. Instead, you'd purchase a server from the Storm system. And you could buy just what you needed right then for your exchange server. Then when your exchange server got too large to manage or it became more busy, instead of having a complex migration or having to run dual systems or anything like that, you could simply resize your exchange server through the Storm system, and it would be four times as powerful. With no other interaction other than an API call or a few clicks of your mouse through our interface.

Mark Fontecchio: So, for this particular data center, what do you guys have so far in terms of customer commitment? How full is it? You know, what is your, kind of, forecast for how quickly it will fill up? That sort of thing.

Matt Hill: We expect to fill it up in the next 3 years, depending on, really how aggressively successful the Storm product is. That will be a big factor. We don't sell co-locations. I mean, we do, but it's not a large part of our business, so we haven't sold large portions of our floor space for co-op. This is really to support core business, both from the Liquid Web side and from the new product side, which is Storm.

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