Bob Evans Farms, LLC. owns and operates more than 550 family restaurants in 19 states, primarily in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions of the United States. Through its BEF Foods segment, the company is also a leading producer and distributor of refrigerated and frozen convenience food items under the Bob Evans™ and Owens™ brand names.
As the Columbus, OH-based company grew over the past decade, its data usage and information-technology needs grew with it. During this time of growth, the company found it increasingly difficult and expensive to store and optimize its IT equipment in-house.
While assessing its options, the restaurant chain and frozen-food producer identified four critical factors that, if improved, would significantly enhance the performance of its IT systems.
Space and power.As Bob Evans’ data usage increased, the company had to purchase and manage more IT equipment to store and serve all the data. But its new IT equipment was outgrowing the space and power available in the office building housing the equipment.
Power and cooling efficiency.Bob Evans’ leadership knew that greater energy efficiency does more than help the environment; it significantly lowers monthly utility bills. In fact, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, investing in infrastructure that improves energy efficiency regularly achieves a 30% return on investment.
Reliability. Bob Evans family restaurants are open beyond typical business hours, and the chain stretches across multiple time zones. At no time can Bob Evans’ critical IT infrastructure go down. However, building a proprietary, purpose-built data center with the power, network access, and cooling redundancies needed to achieve 100% uptime would be prohibitively costly.
Scalability. With hundreds of restaurants and a growing variety of brands and products, Bob Evans is a dynamic business. The company needed a flexible solution that would allow it to adjust its IT equipment’s scale and configuration quickly and easily.
Outgrowing its ability to effectively maintain its IT infrastructure in-house, Bob Evans needed a data center in Ohio where it could securely colocate and achieve greater performance while benefitting from valuable energy efficiencies.
To meet these needs, Bob Evans turned to Cologix Columbus (formally known as DataCenter.BZ), a wholly-owned and operated, 86,000-sq-ft colocation and interconnection facility. As the only fault-tolerant colocation data center in Ohio, Cologix Columbus is a purpose-built facility. It was designed and built for the sole purpose of housing ultra-reliable and highly compliant data centers. The center is an ideal environment for corporate users to deploy and scale their IT infrastructures and networking equipment, while reducing operating and capital costs, enhancing uptime, and achieving compliance with demanding audit and regulatory requirements.
By colocating with Cologix Columbus, Bob Evans was able to fully tailor its IT footprint, including customizing rack space and power layout within a private cage deployment. Bob Evans also gained omnipresent security over critical equipment (Cologix Columbus maintains both SSAE-16/SOC-1 and SOC-2 Type 2 annual audits) and unmatched customer service and reliability. In addition, by colocating in a data center that is strategically situated at the convergence of the long-haul and regional fiber networks in Ohio, Bob Evans was able to optimize significant network requirements across broad network access and extensive carrier choice.
Designed to achieve LEED® Certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the Columbus data center also provides its customers with valuable energy efficiencies. Cologix Columbus’ power and cooling systems are designed to work harmoniously with other efficiency measures engineered into the facility. Collectively, these measures help achieve a leading power usage effectiveness ratio (PUE). This means that a very high percentage of the power delivered to the data center is available to power Bob Evans’ IT equipment, with only a small percentage of total power utilized for power conditioning or for cooling purposes.
AEP Ohio Data Center Program
Purpose-built and operated data centers — especially large-scale, fault-tolerant colocation facilities like Cologix Columbus — offer enormous economies of scale, advanced technologies, and energy efficiencies that in-house corporate operations typically can’t achieve on their own. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, colocating in a data center with air-flow management, server and storage optimization, and extremely efficient power and cooling equipment can reduce electricity consumption by as much as 81%.
AEP Ohio, which provides power to much of central Ohio, wanted more of its customers to take advantage of these efficiencies, so it launched the AEP Ohio Data Center Program. This program helps corporate users transition into energy-efficient data centers by offering cash incentive payments. Based on the efficiencies the center offers, AEP Ohio asked Cologix Columbus to be a strategic partner for the program.
To participate in the program, AEP Ohio first assessed Bob Evans’ potential energy savings from colocating in Cologix’ highly energy-efficient environment. After determining Bob Evans would be an ideal candidate for the program, AEP Ohio assisted in the pre-application process and educated Bob Evans on all incentive payment options.
After Bob Evans moved its IT equipment into Cologix Columbus, AEP Ohio verified Bob Evans’ actual energy savings relative to a baseline previously established in its legacy environment. As expected, significant energy efficiencies were achieved by colocating with Cologix, and AEP Ohio released incentive payments to Bob Evans based on the annualized energy savings. As if the cost savings and incentive payments were not enough, Bob Evans also gained the comfort of a fault-tolerant and highly redundant environment designed for 100% reliability, and the flexibility to customize and scale its IT footprint.
Beyond optimizing for all four of the critical factors it set out to improve, Bob Evans has benefited from additional economies of scale associated with colocating within Cologix Columbus.
“With AEP Ohio and DataCenter.BZ — now Cologix Columbus — Bob Evans has partnered with hometown brands that enable us to focus on growing our business and serving our customers,” said George Haller, VP IT Infrastructure and Operations Services. “Our systems have become much more efficient and agile, and we’re thrilled to have around-the-clock access to specialists that are focused on our dedicated environment and continued success. With the assurance that our systems will always be running, we’re able to focus on continuing to serve our customers across the country.”