Latisys Signs First Tenant for Chicago Data Center Expansion
Inside a Latisys data center in the Chicago market (Photo: Latisys)

Latisys Signs First Tenant for Chicago Data Center Expansion

Social science research organization NORC consolidates two on-prem data centers into Latisys facility

Latisys has signed the first customer for its upcoming Chicago data center expansion. NORC at the University of Chicago has signed an early occupancy agreement. NORC is a large independent social science research organization.

NORC is making the jump from operating its own data centers to Latisys, consolidating two existing on-premise data centers. The organization is moving its entire compute infrastructure, including its Secure Data Enclave environment -- a statistical processing environment that enables customers to run big data applications and solutions.

Latisys announced the 3.6 megawatt, 25,000 square feet Oak Brook expansion in October. The 146,000 square foot Chicago data center campus serves as the company’s Midwest hub.

Technology is changing, and NORC is changing in response, according to its CIO Ron Jurek. It’s not necessarily about big data, but diverse data. There are more smart devices, more sensors being deployed, billions of connected devices leading to an explosion of data.

Its business is growing alongside the explosion of data streams as its purpose is helping make informed decisions based on this data, helping determine what is most relevant. Latisys provides room for growth.

Given the sensitive nature and recent security breaches at big box stores, security played an important role in the decision.

“We did an analysis of a number of organizations,” said Jurek. “It ran the gamut, from mature to up and coming facilities. Security was definitely one of the drivers that made us look to Latisys. We also looked at services provided, things that might relate to our organization."

There continues to be a myth that multi-tenant data centers are not right for some of the most security-conscious organizations, when in actuality it is often a major upgrade.

Jurek said the business is growing and needs to expand rapidly. “Safety, flexibility and reliability, not having to worry about the environmental and facilities, all were part of the decision.”

It’s also an example of a business in downtown Chicago that chose the surrounding suburbs instead of the city proper. The suburbs used to be primarily used for disaster recovery purposes, but a tight supply started forcing production environments outside the city proper.

“We did a comprehensive look within the city, suburbs, and we looked for companies with facilities outside of Chicagoland area,” said Jurek. “Disasters don’t call you up, so we looked at organizations with redundancy. Locations within the city were just a little too close to our business operations.”

Still, Chicago is a primary data center market with lots of capacity under construction, particularly downtown. The Chicago market is seeing a pickup in development action, driven mainly by limited space at the city’s dominant carrier hotel, 300 East Cermak. Server Farm Realty has a 450,000 square foot facility on South Canal Street . QTS Realty, CenterPoint,McHugh Construction, and Ascent Corp. are all trying to develop data center properties in downtown Chicago. Industry veteran Hunter Newby and Amerimar recently acquired a data center hub at 717 South Wells.

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