Program Management Projects:
Experian Data Center

Experian asked PM to complete a risk assessment study of new Data Center Sites, which led to research on the historical occurrence of all tornadoes rated F2 (Significant Tornado) or higher on the Fujita Scale in North Texas.  The company was concerned about the possibility that a single tornado could significantly damage both facilities if a new backup center was built in North Texas.  PM was later commissioned to develop several facility strategies and recommend program requirements for the second data center.

PM's study revealed that less than 10% of all the tornadoes that touched down in the North Texas area in the last 46 years were F3 or greater.  Further, the chances of a single tornado hitting both facilities in the area in any given year are 0.00011%.   The majority of the tornadoes which hit the area touch down and travel in a northeasterly direction.

PM developed and tested alternate facility strategies after an audit of the Allen Data Center was performed. Facility scenarios studied included moving operations from the Orange, CA and newly acquired Schaumburg, IL centers to Texas, as well as moving office operations from Texas to Schaumburg.

To better compare the Twin Texas Sites (Case A) and Texas-Schaumburg Sites (Case B) equitably, connectivity between the two centers also was addressed. Two options available in each case were DS3 (Channel Extenders) and "SneakerNet" (connection via air/vehicular transportation).  The key decision was the end-state condition of the two centers. Schaumburg proved not to be an option, because it did not offer connection through Parallel Sysplex or ESCON.

Both quantitative and qualitative issues drove the decision of the new backup site location:

Quantitative Issues:

bulletFirst Costs (Land, Building, TI, Equipment, Utilities, Telecom Lines, Relocations)
bulletAnnual Costs (Labor Cost Differences, Software Licenses/Leases, Equipment Leases, Operating Savings)

Qualitative Issues:

bulletMarketing Impact
bulletProductivity/Business Climate
bulletGrowth (Expansion Plans, Reserves, Flexibility)
bulletRecovery Strategy (Available Space, Equipment, Connectivity)
bulletAsset Utilization
bulletCorporate Image
bulletOperational Opportunities (New Technologies, Performance Criteria)
bulletLong Term Business Needs (Acquisitions, Relocations, Locations)

Experian's future equipment needs were calculated based on the current equipment in the Allen, Orange, and Schaumburg centers and new initiatives.  Though equipment was growing at the rate of 20% per year, initiatives to reduce tapes resulted in significant space savings.  Also, mainframe space has continued to decrease dramatically, resulting in more space for the growing number of mainframes and equipment.

Based on the Tornado Study and the decision to operate parallel centers, Experian chose a site approximately 12 milles north of the Allen Data Center to build its backup data center.  The new $35 million facility houses 50 employees in 75,000 SF.   Ground breaking was in May 1998 and the building was completed in May 1999.


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