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State Acknowledges Washington Data Center Was Overbuilt

Consolidated Technology Services

Critics of Washington’s new $300 million data center complex have been saying for years that it was overbuilt. Now, the state acknowledges as much.

In a new report, Washington’s Chief Information Officer concludes two of the four data halls will not be needed.

The term “data hall” refers to a highly secure, climate controlled, windowless warehouse space for computer servers. Washington’s state-of-the-art data center in Olympia includes four of these cavernous vaults. Two were finished and two others were left as shells. Now the state says it will only need the first two.

“Knowing what we know today, I don’t think we would have built the size of the footprint,” said Rob St. John, who heads the state agency in charge of the data center. “I think there would have been a little bit better understanding of the macro technology trends with regard to virtualization and cloud computing.”

St. John says efforts to lease out the unfinished data center space to the private sector have been unsuccessful.

“We’re going to look at alternative use for that space to try to recover as much of the money as we can,” he said.

The state of Washington has also scrubbed plans to keep open its old data center. The report says the cost to maintain two facilities is “not a wise use of taxpayer money.” 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.