State to Replace Sinking Data Center

The state of Tennessee is relocating -- at least partially -- a data center located on an unstable landfill next to a railroad and downstream from a large dam that, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is at risk of failing.

The state this month began work on a new $68 million data center 25 miles southeast of Nashville that will replace half of the at-risk 21-year-old, 70,000-square-foot facility.

Officials had initially hoped to simultaneously build two 35,000-square-foot data centers to replace the older facility, located near the Cumberland River in Nashville. However, budget shortfalls forced the state to build one data center at a time, said Tennessee CIO Mark Bengel.

Once the first new data center is completed by the end of the first quarter of 2009, the state will move "the most critical applications" there, Bengel said. The facility will also serve as a fail-over site, he said.

At that point, if budget conditions are favorable, the state hopes to immediately begin work on the second data center. It would be located about 25 to 30 miles from the first new facility.

Bengel said there are foundation cracks in the current data center, which has also started to sink into the underlying landfill.

Nonetheless, Bengel said he expects the facility to hold up until the second new data center is built.

He did acknowledge that the Army Corps of Engineers hasn't given the state a clear indication of the likelihood of a break in the upstream Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River in Jamestown, Ky. "They just don't know or won't say," Bengel said.

Allison Jarrett , a public affairs specialist at the Corps of Engineers, said the U.S. is spending about $314 million to improve the dam. "We really have no concern that the dam is going to fail," she said.

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