It takes a lot of processing power to keep the digital economy humming. That's why Visa Inc. (V) has opened a large new data center in the eastern United States, which the company called a "key milestone" in strengthening the disaster recovery capabilities for a global credit card operation that processes $4.3 trillion in transactions each year.
The new data center is a 370,000 square foot facility with more than 140,000 square feet of raised floor space. Visa did not disclose the location of the data center, which contains authorization engines that can process hundreds of millions of transactions daily at speeds of up to 10,000 transaction messages per second.
Visa’s new facility completes a global network of four data centers on three continents connecting more than 16,000 financial institutions. It also provides Visa with two "synchronized, secure and reliable data centers" in North America, which the company says are each capable of carrying Visa’s entire global payments volume in the event of a natural disaster or systems outage. The failover from one data center to another will be instant, the company says.
The additional capacity is driven by the growing worldwide migration away from cash and checks and towards electronic payments, which now account for 33 percent of global consumer spending. Visa said it expects the volume and complexity of transactions to continue to grow, particularly as mobile payments become more popular.
"Visa’s commitment to continuous technology upgrades differentiates us from competitors and helps Visa play a key role in facilitating the migration to electronic payments," said Mike Dreyer, Chief Information Officer, Visa Inc. "As we activate our second new data center in four years and complete a transition to the latest information technology, we are laying the foundation for the future of Visa payments and related services."
Visa is also implementing a new operating system for its transaction processing netrwork, known as VisaNet. The z Transaction Processing Facility (z/TPF), is a 64-bit operating system developed with IBM that allows more information to be manipulated at once and perform more complex processing functions in milliseconds.
Before launching the new data center, Visa conducted network "stress testing" designed to simulate extremely heavy transaction loads. The stress test, conducted in an IBM facility configured to match an operational Visa data center, found that VisaNet's new configuration has sufficient capacity and processing power to support the busiest hour of the busiest day projected for the year, even if an entire data center was to go offline.