RANTOUL — Before long, a large share of the area’s business IT data could be processed and distributed in a facility that will be opened in Rantoul.

Prominic.NET plans to open a  data center — ColocationPLUS — later this year at Rantoul Business Center.

It will mark the second local presence for the company, which opened an internet data service center at 101 W. International Drive in 2001.

Justin Hill, the company’s chief technology officer, said Prominic.NET has also operated a data center in Champaign for the past 20 years that the company believes "is the most well-connected privately owned building in Champaign" that serves every major fiber provider in Champaign County.

Those providers include AT&T, Sprint, Comcast, Frontier, Mediacom, Windstream, Volo Broadband, Intercarrier Networks and Metro Communications.

The company will offer a somewhat unique service, providing colocation services. Rather than companies housing data services at their own facilities or at large, expensive data centers, the new Rantoul facility will offer colocation services. Companies will be able to move their data equipment to the Rantoul site.

"What you see in the industry are huge data centers, or you see people do small on-premises data centers where they basically have a closet where they have their equipment," Kyle Coey, chief compliance officer, said. "The problem with large centers is it’s very expensive, and you have to play by their rules. Many times you have to use their hardware."

A colocation system allows companies to use their own equipment at a much cheaper rate.

There are drawbacks to companies housing their equipment at their own facility.

For one, there’s the cost of cooling the equipment, which might necessitate several hundred thousand dollars worth of cooling equipment.

Lack of space is another.

And there’s the possibility of power outages. The colocation center will provide emergency electrical backup.

"There’s a lot of overhead in running a proper data center," Coey said. "Here you’re not going to lose power, and we have multiple cooling units."

The company will have staff on hand that can fix equipment.

At Rantoul, Prominic.NET is in the process of developing one server room and will add another. Coey said the village of Rantoul, which owns the business center, has also promised to make more space available for expansion if needed.

"Some (agencies) like the Department of Energy have requirements where their servers have to be segregated from other servers," Coey said.

Hill said a colocation center could be attractive to any number of companies — health care companies such as Carle or OSF, companies located in the Fox Research Park or the Enterprise Works Research Park.

Other potential customers might be involved in disaster recovery, big data, science research — "things where they need their own physical access where they bring their own equipment and can place it at a facility that is well-connected to the internet, has ample amounts of power and server-grade redundant code and emergency power regeneration systems and in a building that has secure access restrictions."

The new facility could also prove attractive to customers in the Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis metro regions.

Added Hill: "Everyone has been racing to the public cloud because it’s very expensive to run a data center, but what we’re doing, if you have a partner to be your data center, then the cost of owning the equipment and renting the space from the data center over the course of time is actually a lot less money than paying Amazon, Google or Microsoft."

Business analyst Shikha Bhatnagar said one of the goals in designing the data center was to be capable of supporting high-power requirements for large enterprises and small businesses.

"We have planned for running power-hungry, machine-learning and artificial intelligence machines on our robust and secure infrastructure," Bhatnagar said.

Robert Nagel, sales and business development manager, said the company is building a data center to serve the Midwest.

"We are excited about serving the growing tech community in Champaign-Urbana," Nagel said. "Similar to how Willard Airport is one stop from O’Hare, we have a direct fiber connect into a data center in Chicago, which is one of the largest data centers in the world."

dhinton@rantoulpress.com