Data center provider Involta has expanded its Boise facility by adding another 5,000 square foot data hall, which is expected to support another half dozen or so Idaho companies.
Involta, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be celebrating its ninth year in Idaho next year, said President Jim Buie, who works in Denver.
“We’re bringing to bear services that larger cities may have,” Buie said. “We’re doing that with purpose. Our whole strategy is enabling growth in places like Boise and states like Idaho.”
Data centers provide infrastructure and expertise so companies can have information technology services without building and staffing them themselves. This gives companies flexibility for growth and makes IT a more regular operational expense rather than an irregular capital expense.
The 5,000 square foot data hall expansion holds 150 “cabinets” of servers. While a large customer might require a full data hall, the average customer — including most of the ones in Boise — deploy about 20 cabinets, Buie said, meaning the expansion will provide space for six or seven new clients.
So far, Involta has an anchor tenant in the new data hall taking up about 1/3 of the space, Buie said. “We have a lot of prospects to fill up the other 2/3 in the next 12 months,” he said.
Involta also recently achieved Cloud Verified status within VMware’s Partner Connect cloud services program. That designation indicates that a provider offers the complete VMware-based software-defined data center infrastructure delivered as a service, the company said in a statement.
Buie said the company isn’t done. In addition to owning the West Boise building, Involta also owns land around it. “We believe we have plenty of land to expand another 10,000 square feet of space,” he said. On the other hand, that isn’t likely to happen soon, but gradually over the next five to 10 years, he said. “We’re a pretty conservative company,” he said. “We don’t build out our data centers speculatively.”
The expansion doesn’t provide a lot of direct new jobs, other than the 7,000 hours of construction time required to build it, but it gives other Idaho companies the opportunity to grow, which can produce new jobs, Buie said.
“Our role is the highway,” Buie explained. “There’s only so many people we employ.” Supporting the technology companies is where the job creation is and Involta provides the infrastructure that enables jobs to happen, he said.
And while the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt some companies, it has actually helped Involta, Buie said. “What we’ve seen with the pandemic is that people live where they want to live,” he said. “Idaho has a great quality of life. People who are moving a business or growing a company want to know that the infrastructure that a company like Involta provides is there,” and they don’t have to locate in a major city like Seattle of Los Angeles, he said. “Where we fit into the ecosystem is an enabler of technology that enables companies that want to do great things and leverage the lifestyle the Treasure Valley has to offer.”
Because so many people are working at home, companies are also seeing more demand for IT services, Buie said. “There’s a pickup in Boise in particular,” he said. “You have corporate real estate teams looking to get out of, or not renew, real estate. You can’t send a server home with everyone, but you can put it in the Involta data center.”
Another effect of the pandemic is that companies want to work with fewer vendors, which makes Involta desirable because it is in more than one location, Buie added.
Involta also expanded in Boise in 2018, when it completed a 31,000 square foot expansion for a cost of $3.5 million.
Boise isn’t the only place that Involta has been expanding. The company recently added 144 cabinets to its Cleveland facility, and 120 cabinets to its Pittsburgh facility.