Why Bridgestone Had to Spend $17.3 Million in Akron, Ohio

Bob Ulrich
Posted on April 20, 2017

In addition to the many Bridgestone Americas executives who attended the ribbon cutting for the renovated Bridgestone Akron Data Center, Ohio Senator Vernon Sykes and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan were on hand. Horrigan describes the IT jobs as “jobs of the future.”
In addition to the many Bridgestone Americas executives who attended the ribbon cutting for the renovated Bridgestone Akron Data Center, Ohio Senator Vernon Sykes and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan were on hand. Horrigan describes the IT jobs as “jobs of the future.”
There were a lot of dignitaries at the grand re-opening of the Bridgestone Data Center in Akron, Ohio, on April 18. That included Bridgestone Americas Inc. CEO and President Gordon Knapp and Chief Operating Officer Bill Thompson.

But the man in the limelight on this day was acting Chief Information Officer Rob Olds. He supervised the two-year, $17.3 million investment in the former Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. building.

“This is a foundational investment into IT that will further enable the business and provide plenty of room for growth opportunities,” he said.

Sounds pretty routine and uneventful, doesn’t it? Companies invest in their operations all the time. They are always looking to improve their business models.

But this was a visionary move. Thanks to the upgrades, the data center can store 3,000 times more data than it could when the building opened in 1968. And the new 10,000-square-foot storage area – which features an environmentally friendly cooling system -- is only half full. Now that’s preparing for the future!

The move also centralizes the company’s data systems and servers that were scattered across the U.S., specifically Muscatine, Iowa; Carmel, Ind.; Clearwater, Fla.; Chicago, Ill.; and Nashville, Tenn. (Bridgestone Corp. also has data centers in Tokyo, Japan, and Brussels, Belgium.)

The consolidation of Bridgestone Americas’ data centers was undertaken to help the company in several ways:

1. It provides Bridgestone with better stability, more security and faster support to its business.

2. The company is able to better execute disaster recovery plans. (It helps that the original building, located near the Bridgestone Technical Center, was built on high ground!)

3. “This Tier 3 redundant data center provides better reliability for our core systems,” said Olds. That includes a redundant power feed, redundant generators, redundant power distribution and redundant cooling system. There is always a backup to the backup!

“With a business as large and diverse as ours, our IT infrastructure is part of the backbone of what we do every day. It’s not only our people that enable our business, but it’s a large ecosystem of hardware, processes and software that keep our business moving.

“It is this building that is the hub of everything we process – point-of-sale transactions, order placement, global supply chain data, customer management systems, and so on. It is a fundamental piece of how we operate.”

One final note to give you some perspective.

In 1968, the building stored all its data on tape. According to Bridgestone, all the tapes combined would span almost 8,500 miles. It also held 1,986 gigabytes of data.

Today, all that data could be stored on a 2-terabyte thumb drive.

Related Topics: Bridgestone Akron Data Center, Gordon Knapp, Rob Olds, Robert Thompson

Bob Ulrich Editor
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