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'64 West' Tech Park's Data Center Up and Running

March 12, 2009 — The University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park's commercial collocation data center is now up and running and offering web hosting, online financial transactions and other data services under the brand name "64 West."
UVI and the RTPark held a press conference Thursday morning at the Buccaneer Resort on St. Croix to trumpet the progress toward a return on the public investment in the tech park.
"This is real," said David Zumwalt, executive director of RTPark. "Revenue is coming in. It may take another year or two to really take off. But the only question now is whether it will be hugely or just moderately successful."
The RTPark is an economic-development initiative of UVI designed to take advantage of the territory's lucky access to gigantic amounts of fiber optic data carrying capacity. One of two sets of major data-trunk cables landing on St. Croix, the Global Crossing cable, carries the bulk of all communications in and out of the Virgin Islands and most Latin American telecommunication traffic to the U.S. mainland. To date, more than $6 million has been appropriated by the Legislature for developing the project. The Public Finance Authority has also set aside another $7 million for construction, which it will not begin to disburse until all the designs, plans and permits are in place.
The main RTPark is to occupy a 20,000-square-foot facility on UVI's St. Croix campus, in the field to the immediate west of the campus entrance. 64 West, named for St. Croix's longitude, is not the physical park at UVI but is rather the public face for the RTPark's complete package of connectivity, collocation and financial transaction services. It is leasing hardware collocation space inside Global Crossing's data center on St. Croix, where it can directly access the massive amount of super-high-speed bandwidth there.
The chief executive officers of 64 West's strategic partners each spoke about their companies and their role in the operation. Web hosting — computer servers that maintain websites online 24 hours a day — is being done by Adveniat, a local subsidiary of Baltimore Technology Park headed by Baltimore Technology principal Tom Cunningham. (See "UVI Technology Park Brings in Baltimore Firm to Run Data Center.")
The actual telecommunications backbone of the operation, connecting remote locations to the data hub at Global Crossing, will be handled by Tropical Tower, the parent company of nine regional communications companies owned by Choice Communications founder Neil Prior. (See "Choice Official Will Manage Communications Technology at RTPark.")
JetPay will manage online financial transactions. This newest partner completes the three pillars needed for commercial online services by providing a way to get paid.
JetPay is the second largest "card not present" transaction provider in the western hemisphere, CEO Trent Voigt said. They handle credit card purchases at the Expedia.com travel website and other large online companies, he said. "Card not present" transactions are secure online transactions, where you don't have a card-swiping device reading the physical credit card as found in retail stores, but enter information online. JetPay handles recurring monthly payments and offers descriptive labeling, so your credit card bill tells you what you purchased and who to call to dispute a purchase too. They processed $17 billion in transactions in 2008, of which $16.5 billion were "card not present," Voigt said.
To date, more than $6 million has been appropriated by the Legislature for developing the project. The Public Finance Authority has also set aside another $7 million for construction, which it will disburse when the plans and permits are in place.
Aramark corporation is overseeing the designing and building and later will operate the planned UVI tech park component of the RTPark. Scott Hartman of Aramark presented artists conceptions of the park complex, showing an attractive two-story stone and glass office building with architecture designed to evoke the image of an old stone windmill, and a variety of features designed to help control storm water runoff, take advantage of easterly breezes and fit well into the environment. Construction is still sometime in the future.
"We have most of the money necessary for construction," Zumwalt said. Once permits are in place, they will go to both corporate sponsors and the government to see about acquiring the rest of the needed money, he said.

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