The Neighborhood Data Center: 720 Second Street, Oakland

March 17, 2016

It’s gotten fashionable to call Oakland the Brooklyn of the West Coast, the affordable home for hipsters, artists and young businesses, as well as the condos, restaurants, clubs and shops that serve them. The Jack London neighborhood wants to be the heart and soul of that boom. It’s been trying for years, through successive cycles of tech rise and recession.

In the optimistic year 2001, developers built an approximately 122,000 sq. foot building at the quiet end of the Jack London commercial strip and christened it the Jack London Technology Center. 720 Second Street was, and is, a dream location. When BART, Port of Oakland and freeway construction projects dug up the nearby streets, foresighted companies said, “Well, the road’s open, let’s put the fiber in.” Besides the dark fiber density, 720 Second Street is a block away from PG&E’s Substation C. The Bay protects it from tsunamis and floods. It’s got connectivity, power, and a lower risk location.

In 2007, a new owner saw the wisdom of transforming it into a data center. It was a great idea, but the next recession gut-punched the tech industry and the Jack London neighborhood yet again. In 2010, Digital Realty bought the property. By 2012, Asset Manager Raul Saavedra persuaded the company to become active in the Jack London Improvement District, a move that went a long way toward integrating the data center into the increasingly vibrant Jack London business community.

In the years since, 720 Second’s unique location, close to but not San Francisco, has brought a vibrant mix of businesses into the facility. Enterprise-scale customers have embraced Oakland as a key part of their global infrastructure. International customers use it as the nexus of their worldwide businesses. Lots of small but fast-growing companies have taken up residency there. For some, it’s the first time they’ve moved their operations off-site. For others, sky-rocketing rents for office and residential properties in San Francisco have made the East Bay not just attractive but necessary. Mid-size and bigger businesses choose it because their IT staff can afford to live in the neighborhood and be a regular presence in the data center, this with no compromise of the integrity of the infrastructure, the superior connectivity and the service levels.

Some 720 Second clients host next generation services from the facility. Digital Realty tenant PAXIO is delivering their Gigabit for AllSM service to Jack London and Downtown Oakland. PAXIO provides the service by creating fiber rings in the local area and inviting businesses, buildings and service providers to take advantage of the resulting fiber optic high speed network for their connectivity needs. This allows carriers at DRT to have access to cost-effective capacity to connect local businesses. It allows clients to chose from multiple service providers. Finally, it allows local businesses direct fiber connectivity to their co-location, making their co-location space an extension of their business office. As the new Brooklyn Basin housing development takes off, they’ll be offering high speed gigabit residential internet there, as well. In a short time, PAXIO has gone from one to four connectivity racks in our Meet-Me Room, where seventeen network providers as well as all of our colocation clients are able to leverage PAXIO’s last mile fiber infrastructure for connecting local businesses.

If you asked most people who live around here if there was a data center in the neighborhood, they’d shake their heads. If you asked a lot of Bay Area businesses shopping for data center space if Oakland was on their list of possibilities, they’d probably say it was in third place, after San Francisco and Santa Clara, no more than a box they have to check to show due diligence. Once the technical team visits our space, though, we tend to move to the top spot. It’s a one-two punch. They want to work in the facility. And they like the neighborhood.

– Bill Iles, Data Center Manager, 720 Second Street, Oakland

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