Alpharetta Economic Development Manager Matthew Thomas, center with Mayor Jim Gilvin to his right, asks questions of company executives on a May 14 tour of the new Flexential expansion facility off Windward Parkway. The tour was led by solutions engineer Rodney Gunther, far left, and Flexential Southeast Region Vice President Tim Langan, far right. The blue, center stacks contain “air handlers” that ensure an optimal environment for the computer equipment that will occupy most of the room’s remaining space.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta’s tech resume grew by more than a football field this week with the opening of a new addition to the Flexential campus off Windward Parkway.

The 70,000-square-foot, 2-story expansion is the Atlanta Region’s largest this year and increases Flexential’s Alpharetta footprint by close to 67 percent and its national data center footprint to 3.1 million square feet. The company operates 41 such data centers throughout the country.

Flexential is a relatively new name on the tech landscape, having formed in 2017 with the merger of Peak 10 and ViaWest. The company draws on local talent to create and maintain a facility that provides multi-layered security and redundancy for the space it provides to IT systems from an array of companies.

“Alpharetta’s obviously been a significant area of economic development which ultimately makes it a good environment for us to develop a data center footprint,” said Flexential CEO Chris Downie.

“We make sure it is powered as well as cooled in a manner that makes a good environment for computer infrastructure,” Downie said. “Even if there’s a disruption in the local utility, they need to stay up and running all the time so our customers’ businesses can stay up and running all the time.” 

The Atlanta area has been one of the more active markets for data center development, he said, primarily because of its relative low cost, access to reliable power and growing economy.

Atlanta and the surrounding Transaction Alley are the third largest financial technology hub in the United States, with more than 70 percent of all credit card transactions processed through the Atlanta metropolitan area, according to the Atlanta Small Business Network. Data-intensive companies require secure, reliable and scalable means to gain access and transport data without loss of connectivity.

At a special tour for city officials May 14, Flexential senior executives described some of the special attributes of the new facility.

Two elements dominate the heart of the center, according to Flexential Regional Vice President Tim Langan.

Security, both physical and network, is key to companies who lease space for their equipment at the facility, Langan said. Flexential incorporates more than half a dozen protocols, from the front gate to the interior computer cabinets, to ensure only authorized personnel have access. The systems, themselves, employ the latest security applications.

The equipment, much of it computer servers, is protected with a state-of-the-art cooling system — or air handlers — that operate by running cooled water over fins, much like a car radiator.

Redundancy is a second element key to operations. All the systems — the cooling, the power, the security — are reinforced to ensure complete reliability, a feature Langan referred to as “table stakes” in the effort to attract and maintain customers. That effort, he said, includes a local investment in the tens of millions of dollars.

“We’re making a big bet on Atlanta, North Fulton and Alpharetta,” he said.

Alpharetta Economic Development Manager Matthew Thomas said the expansion is good news for the local economy.

“Because of Flexential’s multi-tenant, multi-user format, a variety of companies will now find Alpharetta even more desirable for their future investment and growth,” Thomas said. “In addition to new jobs created, Flexential brings a much-needed service that enables companies to innovate and grow.”

One of Flexential’s longest standing financial services customers, Delta Community Credit Union, says it depends on the Alpharetta location to quickly and securely serve its nearly 400,000 members.

“As Georgia’s largest credit union, we gain tremendous confidence and benefits through the geographical placement of Flexential’s connected data centers, which deliver the highest level of security and reliable service for our members,” said Chad Jaenke, vice president for IT Operations and Technical Support. “Every person we work with at Flexential is knowledgeable, responsive and genuinely cares about the success of our business.”

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