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Across the ocean and into the cloud: Puyallup data hub in motion

Centeris opens massive data center on South Hill

A look inside the transpacific data and fiber hub set on an 86-acre South Hill campus owned and operated by Bellevue-based Benaroya under the name Centeris.
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A look inside the transpacific data and fiber hub set on an 86-acre South Hill campus owned and operated by Bellevue-based Benaroya under the name Centeris.

Faster than it just took you to read the words “Faster than it just took,” a cluster of electronic data traveled from Asia to … Puyallup.

The data might have originated in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan or mainland China, and the journey included a dip across the wide Pacific Ocean and a landing along the Oregon Coast. From there, the data jumped by cable to a transpacific data and fiber hub set on an 86-acre campus owned and operated by Bellevue-based Benaroya under the name Centeris.

Originally home to Fairchild Semiconductor, then Matsushita Semiconductor Corp. and most recently Microchip Technology, the South Hill site has sat quietly for several years.

“Usually, by the fourth time, somebody makes it work,” said company manager and principal Larry Benaroya at a reception on Wednesday organized to formally introduce the data hub to local officials and potential clients.

“We like to be proud of our facilities,” he said.

Hence an investment of “well over $100 million” in the overall campus.

The data hub is Benaroya’s second, with a smaller facility in Boise.

The racks and rooms stacked with servers within the main building collect, store and process “mission critical” data related to international business and at least one major cloud-based gaming concern.

“We provide the space and power, infrastructure and security,” said Lisa Goodman, vice president of marketing at Centeris.

Space: Think football fields.

Power: Think the same amount of juice needed to power Sea-Tac Airport, uninterrupted and redundant with a 50-megawatt substation onsite.

Security: Firewalls for the electronics and fences, guards and cameras to protect the campus.

Infrastructure: A cooling system based on outside air and evaporation. Building is certified LEED Gold.

“At the heart of it, the raison d’etre is to run the systems that ride over networks ,” said Simon Lee, a member of the Centeris board of directors.

“This is the industrial internet of the future,” he said. “This is much bigger than all of us.”

Goodman emphasized that potential clients range from mom-and-pop concerns to governments, health care systems, nonprofits, education, gaming, logistics and the financial sector, among others.

“If they need to house their data, we’re the place to house it,” she said. “As the world becomes more connected, this is critical.”

Then there’s the spillover, the fact that Puyallup now offers a singular, state-of-the-art data facility that could be attractive to businesses throughout the northern Pacific Rim.

Said Shelly Schlumpf, president and CEO of the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce, “Having this in our backyard, we’re more than competitive with other locations.”

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535

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