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Prov.net expands in Providence

Analyst: Kelly Morgan 8 May, 2014

The first quarter last year (2013) was a slow one for datacenter providers seemingly everywhere in the US, including in Providence, Rhode Island. When we last visited Prov.net in January 2013, the firm was planning to build out the second phase of its second datacenter, but with the slow market of 1H 2013, management decided to wait a bit.

In the second half of the year, demand started picking up again with quite strong interest seen at the end of last year (again, we’ve heard that just about everywhere in the US, not just in Providence). So Prov.net is fitting out its second phase, and should have it ready for customers this summer.

The 451 take
There is a good bit of datacenter demand in Providence, considering it’s not in a state known for ultra-cheap power or lack of sales tax or strong economic growth. Server hugging is alive and well, but there also seem to be opportunities in smaller metros outside larger markets: some customers have chosen Providence as a backup or an alternative to Boston, where proximity and datacenter lease rates are lower. However, we also expect to see growing interest in such markets from mobile, content and media providers, for example, that are looking to store data and content close to end users. Prov.net has seen some interest from those players already, and we expect to hear about further expansions by the firm over the next couple of years.

As we noted last year, Prov.net got its start back in 2009 when its founders, Ron Sacks (currently CEO) and John Chenard, decided that Providence could use more options for colocation. They leased space in an area downtown known as Fiber Alley, near an older colocation facility that had tenants that were keen to move. So when Prov.net opened its first 2,000-square-foot space, it already had customers. With about half the space filled in just over a year and a growing number of prospects, Prov.net expanded to a building down the street, and connected both buildings to create a campus.

Prov.net offers retail colocation, with options from 1U to 1/4 cabinet to multiple cabinets to caged suites. It is also an ISP, and carrier-neutral, so it can either provide blended BGP-IP connectivity for customers, at speeds from 1Mbps to 10Gbps, or customers can use a carrier of their choice. There is also substantial dark fiber available to its facilities, over 700 strands. Prov.net does not provide managed services other than remote hands.

The datacenters
Datacenter Prov1 has 2,000 square feet of operational space, or about 45 cabinets, with 250kW of critical N+1 power. It is located in a section of Providence where there is plenty of fiber, with options from carriers such as Cogent, Cox Communications, Fibertech Networks, Lightower Fiber Networks, Verizon and Zayo Group available.

The Prov.net datacenters are on the same electrical grid ‘feeder’ as the main fire, police and emergency response center in Providence, so that particular part of the power network is top priority, and Prov.net has not seen a grid power outage since it launched. The datacenter does have N+2
UPS redundancy and a diesel generator, just in case. Cooling consists of a primary 30-ton CRAC, an alternate 15-ton CRAC and four five-ton backup

CRAC units. The facility is compliant with SSAE16 Type II. It is essentially full, with more than 40 customers.
Prov2 is in a space that was previously a telecom operator’s datacenter. It currently has 4,000 operational square feet with 400kW of critical power, and is just over half full but with a pipeline that could very well fill it by summer, so the new space should come online just in time.

Phase 2 of Prov2 will bring another 4,000 operational square feet online in the same building, plus an additional 375kW of critical power. The datacenter has biometric access at the entrances and N+1 UPS, plus two generators, 375KVA and 400KVA, enabling a 2N+1 environment. The full facility will have more than 140 Tons of N+1 cooling. The datacenters are monitored 24/7, and technical staff are on-site during business hours.

Prov.net has targeted local SMBs – particularly those requiring significant bandwidth, SSAE16 SOCII controls, and big-data analytics deployments – as well as telecom providers. Its customers include RhodeOne Technology, Clear Channel Communications, T-Mobile and 7-Eleven, as well as some larger businesses that use Prov.net’s sites for production and/or backup/disaster recovery.

The only other colocation providers we know of in Providence are Lightower Fiber Networks, which has a facility in The Foundry at 235 Promenade Street, and Cox Communications. Lightower announced in May 2012 that it doubled the size of its facility, but since its merger with Sidera Networks last summer, the firm seems to have deemphasized its colocation business.

Further up toward Boston, there are datacenters to the south of the city – ColoSpace has a facility in Rockland, Massachusetts, and Granite Block Global Data Center has one in Fall River, Massachusetts. These, along with other facilities outside of Boston, offer competition – for example, as backup/disaster-recovery sites for Boston-area businesses.

SWOT Analysis

Prov.net is the main datacenter provider in Providence. It has been able to acquire its facilities at very good rates and upgrade them, so it can compete on quality and reputation, but also price, if necessary, to ensure that it remains the market leader.
For now, the company only has facilities in Providence so it cannot offer backup/disaster-recovery services from multiple cities.
The firm has developed expertise in upgrading older telco datacenters, and there are quite a few of those around the Northeast so they might make good targets for expansion.
Larger competitors could enter the Providence market (perhaps one of the network operators – a firm like Zayo comes to mind) and target Prov.net’s local customer base.

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