HONOLULU, March 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Servpac Inc., Hawaii’s Largest Independent Telecom Provider, continues operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. While virus fears and Hawaii’s emergency stay-at-home proclamation forced non-essential businesses to close, Servpac is still open as an essential business and addressing customers’ priority needs during this unprecedented period.
“COVID-19 caused a dramatic increase in service inquiries, especially with our customer support and remote tools,” explains President and Founder Richard Zheng. “Our support ticket volume increased 220% in the last two weeks, and our team is working 24/7 to assist with the record demand. We’re even hiring additional engineers for faster responses.”
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Servpac took early steps to ensure business continuity and employee safety. Precautions taken include upgraded mandatory hygiene practices for staff, daily sanitation throughout the office, and remote working arrangements for employees. All controls and safeguards are in place as required for SOC 2 compliance to protect business continuity.
Servpac will continue construction of its new MTP data center in Mililani Tech Park. The 30,000 sq. ft Tier 4 design data center will be carrier-neutral with multiple fiber entrances and a 2N redundant power and cooling system for guaranteed 99.999% uptime. The facility also includes Disaster Recovery office space with 100 hot desks and 20 private suites available on-demand.
To ensure employee safety and on-time completion, Servpac implemented a new policy at the facility that requires mask usage and bans visitors who traveled recently or had close contact with anyone who was sick or traveled outside of Oahu. Once construction of the facility is completed, MTP will be the largest data center in Hawaii.
“It’s a critical time for customers pushed to their limits because of this situation. Now, more than ever, local businesses rely on our infrastructure, technology, and flexibility to support their operations,” said Zheng. “We will keep working around the clock to continue service and support customers’ needs during this evolving pandemic.”
Servpac, headquartered in Honolulu, is Hawaii’s largest CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) providing innovative and integrated telecom, managed IT and data center solutions for Hawaii businesses. Established in 2004, Servpac offers data center colocation, fiber connectivity, private Cloud hosting, business VoIP phones, and managed network for businesses – all supported by a dedicated fiber network and 24x7x365 customer support. For more information, please visit www.servpac.com.
On March 30, 2020, President and Founder Richard Zheng was interviewed by Think Tech Hawaii about Servpac’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. See the full interview below:
[00:00:27.460] – Jay Fidell
OK. We’re back alive. I’m Jay Fidell. This is Think Tech talks on Think Tech. OK, and we’re talking about broadband. We’re talking about the broadband providers doing during the time of the virus, with somebody who knows. That somebody is the founder and CEO of Servpac. Servpac is a broadband provider, among other things. Richard Zheng. Hi Richard, thank you for joining us this morning.
[00:00:53.950] – Richard Zheng
Hey, good morning, Jay. Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. So here we are, we’re actually not that far into it. You know, when you start counting the days of the weeks. Hawaii hasn’t had more than about three weeks or so in a serious virus. I think our first case was disclosed on March 6, so not that long ago. And our world has completely changed since then. Not only the cases, but the way we greet each other and talk to each other. The way we do business, of course, and our lives in general have been seriously impacted over that very short period of time. So tell me how how is your life at Servpac been impacted in that short period of time?
[00:01:45.180] – Richard Zheng
Yes, This is definitely a challenging time for everyone. Nobody would expect this three weeks ago. After their first case in Hawaii, we made a lot of adjustments in the business and how to adapt to this because the customer demand is quite different from before.
[00:02:11.100] – Jay Fidell
Yeah. It’s certainly had that effect on every business I know, except, you know, we have distinction going on these days between essential services and non-essential services. Servpac and broadband providers are clearly essential services. So how did this come to your attention as the CEO? And what reaction that you have and what steps are you taking now to deal with the extraordinary changes in our world?
[00:02:43.700] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, when this whole thing started, it was only some cases on the mainland and not a big deal in Hawaii. Then we started noticing people looking at ways to work from home because we provide the broadband Internet and phone services for businesses. Some of the customers start calling and asking, “hey, what can I do?” And I talked to other businesses and they already started with their contingency plan. And what you’re going to do in case that the office and business shuts down.
[00:03:20.360] – Richard Zheng
So, after a little bit, we realize this is going to hit us really quick, really fast. We saw this avalanche coming towards us. So basically we updated our business continuity plan. We do it every year with dry runs. So we just put the plan in place.
[00:03:54.770] – Richard Zheng
And initially we were thinking about having employees go home, have the home internet to make sure they can still access the system from home to answer phone calls.
[00:04:07.730] – Richard Zheng
So during the day, we have a plan to do it a week later. Then in the evening we realized, hey, this thing’s going to be hitting us really hard. So we’re like, OK, let’s accelerate the plan and do the casting the next day. So that it was a Friday about two weeks ago. Then that weekend, we just sent everybody an e-mail to say they can work from home.
[00:04:44.540] – Richard Zheng
That was one week before the city shut down. During that week, we saw our call volume doubled. We were swamped with phone calls and people needing to work from home, sending phone calls to voicemail, or play a different greeting. So it was lucky we had everyone working at home already. We don’t have to worry about our internal operations and freed up all of our resources to help customers.
[00:05:19.790] – Jay Fidell
You’re talking about changing the connection from the office to the home. Educating people and helping them reconnect from home, both on broadband and on Voice over IP, which is part of broadband. That would be reasonable to anticipate as soon as you find out that people work from home because they don’t have those connections at home and will be calling you because you offer telephone support. You knew you put this all together immediately and you knew you would have to be prepared for that kind of onslaught of telephone calls. I suppose people were slightly panicky and demanding?
Right. We always take pride of our customer service. So when people call, they can always get hold of engineers to talk to them. We or any business isn’t designed to have this double call volume, literally overnight coming in. We really struggled in the beginning getting back to the customer as soon as possible. And it is very challenging. The team really stepped up, worked long hours and over the weekend getting the tickets answered and problems resolved for customers.
How hard was it, Richard, to connect all your people at home? That sounds like for you it would have been pretty easy.
Yeah. You know that when people go home and access the internet, they need to access the resources from their office. So we need to make sure this is secure. For our managed network customers, this means having firewall and VPN in place.
So it’s just a matter of assurance they can put in a VPN connection at home so they can access the company resources securely from their home office. And the same thing the Voice over IP phone. We need to set it up, give them credentials, and get everything ready. The biggest challenges is the resource it takes. We need to get engineers set things up and talk to customers. Everybody’s home connection is different and we make sure if there are any issues with their phone connection or home computer set up, then we need to walk them through the different scenarios and get things running for them. So that said, the hardest challenge is how to get resources on our side to help people in a timely manner?
Yeah, so disclosure, you’re our broadband provider and central to our operations. We like you and you have always been good on support. So this is part of your brand. And I know that all customers want to be able to call you. And that’s an important thing. Other companies, you can’t get through. You can never get through even on a good day. You can always find an engineer, a technical support person at Servpac. I guess the question I have is it goes beyond just the broadband. It goes beyond just broadband and the VoIP phone, because when people go home, they’re using their computers. And now your engineers, they’re not only have to answer questions about the basic provisions for the broadband and the basic provision for the phone. But there’s going to be all these leak over questions about how I set my computer up, am I right?
Yeah, definitely. We have to go above and beyond to help people on the issues we normally don’t have to resolve. But now, you know, before the phone in the office, we set up the connection, the network in the office. When they go home, it’s a totally different setup. So we had to really work through the different issues and have different solutions. We had really nailed down to this.
So one thing we were really lucky with was when we were slaughtered by customer phone calls, one of my friends came in and he owns a business that does reservations for Luau. When this thing blew up, there was nobody wanting to come to those. So he’s like, “I have a few people here. They are really good in at call centers and talking to customers. Can you use them?”
First off, I thought this is pretty technical and we cannot use them. But then, you know, we have a huge volume phone call coming in and can probably train these people very quickly. They can get the customer information and get all the tickets created.
So I can use all my engineers time to solve technical problems. But in terms of communication and getting information, these people handle it. Within a couple of hours, we get like three call center people up and running and set up VoIP phones to work from home. We had one engineer train these people. We transcribe all the phone calls so we can review it to find problems. These people, within two days, came to full speed and were able to answer phone calls. That is a huge thing for us because that frees up resources for the engineer, so we can really handle the technical problems.
[00:11:41.410] – Jay Fidell
That’s a win win. They still have jobs.
[00:11:47.570] – Richard Zheng
Exactly. They have jobs and the owner doesn’t have to worry about furloughing these people. These people have a job, help our customer service, and our engineers solve the problem. This company wins, we win, and the customer wins.
[00:12:05.900] – Jay Fidell
Yeah, absolutely. And there’s many lessons in there, not only for broadband providers, but for others. I mean, it’s a service to the community.
[00:12:14.970] – Jay Fidell
What you’ve done is you’re taking them off the streets and repurposed them for things they can do to keep them in the workforce. You’ve helped to modify the shock the business community would otherwise have on this. So what do you do with a company that calls you Richard and says we can’t operate anymore. We’re not an essential service and our employees have to go home. Our business model does not permit them to work from home and there’s no way they can be helpful at all. So we’re going to have to have to shut down on this, Richard. Do you have that experience and what do you do?
[00:12:59.250] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, we have customers sending emails and a cost for, you know, for the basic of their businesses, either running or even they run but they couldn’t pay us. For us, we are essential and will always be available for customers. But I worry so much that our customer won’t pay us and then are we going to have trouble paying my employees or vendors. What if my vendors cut off my service? As the CEO of the company, that’s definitely a major concern for us.
[00:13:45.090] – Jay Fidell
There’ve been articles in both New York Times and the Wall Street Journal about April 1st, which is coming two days from now. April 1st is the first of the month since it’s bill payment day. It’s paying the rent, all kinds of suppliers, and mortgages. Answer is always happens on the first in both of these articles that appeared. And I noticed they’re concerned about what happens to the country just like Y2K. If you remember Y2K, it all on the same day and nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen. So, April 1st, all these bills come due. You may get a flood of calls and letters and emails telling you they can’t pay or maybe not. I don’t know. And same thing with the banks, mortgage companies, and so forth. We’re going to find out soon.
[00:14:47.350] – Jay Fidell
And one of the things that you mentioned before we started was that this is not the kind of thing where you make a plan. And then something happens like coronavirus and adapt your plan. This is not a monthly change in plan or even weekly change in plan. You review your plan every day. Tell me about how that works.
[00:15:07.860] – Richard Zheng
Yeah. So you mention Y2K. People know Y2K will come on January 1st. People have years to plan for this. And Coronavirus, even though you know it’s in China for a few months, honestly nobody took it seriously. Yeah. So what really helps us is we do have business continuity planning for the last four years. Every year, we look at our plan to see is there something happening? Typically people don’t plan for pandemics. People plan for local disasters like hurricanes and other things.
[00:16:02.520] – Richard Zheng
But those plans, although it doesn’t apply to here directly, helps us to understand what are we going to do when this thing happens? So one thing you mentioned, this seems that be changing so fast. We need to send everybody home. But we’re a week ahead of time. We think, OK, we have a few days. We have one engineer go home, then the next day another engineer, so after a week, we have everything ready and send everyone home. Then we had a plan on Thursday evening, we see this thing’s is coming really hard on the news. We can’t wait for a week. So Friday morning, everyone comes in and we have a company meeting and after lunch, everyone goes home. They take the computer, their own monitor and phones.
[00:17:02.540] – Richard Zheng
Now we test and this thing works, which is good because we found some problems. Some people didn’t have good internet at home, or someone’s router wasn’t working. That helps us really address these issues and get those problems resolved before we get huge amount of phone calls coming in. So you got this thing, need to look at the situation, review the plan -probably multiple times.
[00:17:39.940] – Richard Zheng
That’s the only way to survive in this pandemic. In this whole process, we really communicate with employees. You know, most of the workforce staying at home now. Before, you know, there were water cooler meetings where we can address people with concerns. With people working from home, we have zoom meetings to see how the company doing and what we face in the future. Talk about concerns from a customer who can’t pay us to what are we going to do? I communicate that very clearly with all the employees. The company has enough reserves. We’re going to survive even for a few months. If we don’t have customer payment, we can still survive. It’s not a problem. But, if this goes even longer, then we might have a problem. We communicate very clearly with all the employees. It’s a very difficult situation.
[00:18:57.260] – Jay Fidell
Yeah, we we live in strange and threatening times. You know, one thing is, have you been thinking about what happens at the end of the crisis? Hopefully at some point, it’s going to end. We don’t have to figure that out right here and now, when it’s going to end. Nobody knows when it’s going to end. But let’s say it’s going to end in the space of a year or year and a half. That’s a long time. Do you have an idea about how you will reorganize yourself? Maybe it’s gradual or all of a sudden. How are you going to bring everybody back, you know, to your office premises? Are you can do it gradually? How are you going to get back to normal?
[00:19:44.090] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, I don’t know. This is going to be a really hard question because, you know, after several months or a year, everything will get to the normal. But I can guarantee you one thing – the normal is going to be a different normal.
[00:20:08.370] – Jay Fidell
How would be different? Do you have an idea about how it will be different?
[00:20:14.330] – Richard Zheng
Well, there’s lots of things that will change. One thing is people will get it used to working from home. Business owners will see working from home is not a bad thing. Maybe more people can work from home. We will adapt to this. Our business has adapted all these years. We started in 2004 and keep adding new services. I’m pretty sure we’re going to be different a year from now in terms of the services we provide. But how is it going to happen? What’s it going to be? It’s everybody’s guess and still little too early to tell.
[00:21:00.310] – Jay Fidell
One thing you said that sounds interesting is you bring in additional staff to do triage, get a general idea of what people are calling about, and then refer them to the engineers. You know that two level kind of triage. Seems to me that’s something that sounds so good, useful and helpful. It’s one possibility where you might you might continue that after things return to normal now.
[00:21:30.380] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, when when we get hit by this thing, lots of businesses tried their best to adapt. Even the restaurants. In the first week or weekend, I wanted to support the local business. I have the means, so I want to do take out for some of my favorite restaurants, I don’t them to shut down and I couldn’t enjoy the food I like. So I could called a week ago to get some food. No problem. The line went so very quickly. This weekend, I called several restaurants. They’re so busy they couldn’t even take my calls.
[00:22:08.610] – Richard Zheng
You know, everything is changing so fast. It really is hard to predict. One thing I can say from this example is if you’re doing well and service your customers, people will come back. Right. people will take your services. They will love you. That’s why in the last few weeks we tried so hard to answer every phone calls. We try out not to send people to a voicemail or wait long hours. You know, that’s our job. We spend all the resources on some people’s calls and take care of them.
[00:22:50.690] – Jay Fidell
Sure it’ll pay off. When we spoke last, Richard, it was January 10th. I don’t know if you remember, but I Think Tech always covers the Pacific Telecommunications Conference. We were there and took some footage of you. You talked at some length with some great interest and excitement about your new data center. I wonder, you know, how your data center has has been going in the throes of the crisis. Tell me about the status of it.
[00:23:24.790] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, it’s great. You know, I’m I’m working out of Mililani today. I still travel between the two offices and can tell you the project at full speed. I guess a lot of contractors and the subcontractors, their other work has slowed down.
[00:23:46.210] – Richard Zheng
But our work is classified as an essential services as data center telecommunications. All the contractors have been working and we didn’t slow a little bit. In some cases we actually accelerated the projects, and then there’ll be more resources. We do have to make some adjustments. So when people work in the data center construction area, we all have to wear masks.
[00:24:24.810] – Richard Zheng
It is good because, you know, our understanding is these masks are hard to get. They may not be able to prevent the virus, but at least if I’m sick for whatever reason, I don’t even know this from the block spreading the virus to other people. So we basically made a policy overnight and enforced it. Everyone on-site needs to wear these masks.
[00:24:55.480] – Jay Fidell
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I want to talk about one other thing. We have a few minutes left and that is where broadband fits, from your point of view, in the community. I mean, everybody is trying to reach kind of refigure the economy now. You know, as the economy declines, what’s going to be problematic. What’s going to stop first and second, and if business stops, what is it going to be?
[00:25:23.120] – Jay Fidell
What’s it going to be on business B and C and D? And how are they all connected? And where does broadband fit in all of that? Where do you fit in all of that? What happens? And this is my big question. What happens to the ghost of Christmas future if you can’t do broadband, if we don’t have broadband? What what is life like here in these islands and here in our community? Can you talk about it?
[00:25:48.180] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, definitely. Internet and broadband is critical. Now, people realize how important this is because they need to work from home. My kids, in two days, are going to start school and learning, so they need broadband services. People had been building the Internet, but lots of times we are not ready for this.
[00:26:19.140] – Richard Zheng
You know, the bandwidth usage has been skyrocketing. I heard that in Europe, the government has asked Netflix to drop the video quality from high definition to low resolution because then that it will it just couldn’t handle it. So now everybody knows the Internet is super important, and we need to invest. The private companies and government needs to invest in broadband. The whole Internet infrastructure needs to adapt to this new reality since lots of people will be working from home.
[00:27:03.460] – Jay Fidell
You think we could be in a situation where we we have to give up resolution on our Internet and broadband. Such as in Europe with Netflix.
[00:27:15.440] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, I don’t know. I think some some nights we’re watching Netflix, the quality was not that great. Maybe it’s automatic dropped already.
[00:27:21.950] – Jay Fidell
It’s happening already.
[00:27:27.550] – Richard Zheng
Well, I’m starting to hope this an opportunity for people to realize the problem. You know, if I up the effort just like we need to produce the masks and other medical supplies, so same thing. Toilet paper.
[00:27:43.820] – Jay Fidell
Well, let me add this last thought. It’s really necessary, in my view, that we have broadband and the availability of the Internet in these dark times when we’re all shuttered and sheltered in because life would be very tough without those things. But the other element, and I think it’s worth mentioning, is that when we get out of this, when we see the light at the end of the tunnel, when we try to get back to normal, we’re going to need broadband more to knit the community and economy back up together. We cannot afford to lose it because if we lose it, then it’d be really hard to bring back our economy. Don’t you agree?
[00:28:30.020] – Richard Zheng
Yeah, definitely. The broadband Internet is not just for entertainment. It’s become essential for workforce. And people have been talking about telemedicine due to the pandemic. I heard of some machine where you can take blood pressure and do some basic testing. So those things can not only make us more efficient, but save people’s lives.
[00:28:58.290] – Jay Fidell
Yeah. Well, thank you to Richard Zheng, CEO of Servpac, a great company. I can tell you from personal experience, thank you so much for coming on our show and talking about these things. Well, all the best to you. Stay safe and all your people stay safe, Richard. Aloha.
[00:29:13.670] – Richard Zheng
|On March 24, 2020, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued an emergency “stay at home” order for the island of Oahu, only allowing employees who deliver essential services to leave their house and report to places of work. |
Since the City and County of Honolulu identifies Servpac as an essential service, we will continue operations and support for customers.
We already implement a Coronavirus policy in our office that protects employees and complies with CDC and federal guidelines. This includes on-site precautions such as cleaning of equipment and common areas, installing hand sanitizer stations, and having staff members work remotely.
Regardless of the ongoing situation, our support team is still available 24×7 for service assistance and inquiries including remote access and emergency on-site services.
Servpac understands the impact this will have on businesses for the foreseeable future. For questions and inquiries, please call 808-237-5001 or contact support. Mahalo and stay healthy!
As of March 13, 2020, COVID-19 is declared a national emergency by the federal government. This is an ongoing situation worldwide, and Servpac is taking the necessary steps to protect employees and ensure operations. Safety is a top priority for our customers and staff, and we’ve already taken on-site precautions such as cleaning of equipment and common areas, installing hand sanitizer stations, and encouraging staff members to stay home if sick.
Since companies are implementing remote policies to prevent the spread of this new illness, we’re committed to supporting all of our customers during this challenging time. If an outbreak occurs in Hawaii, we will continue operations with employees working remotely. Our support team will be available 24×7 for service assistance and remote work inquiries including:
- Phone Setup – IP phones can be used outside the office. Our phones utilize “plug and play” for easy use, but some require more time for set-up. If you need help with set-up, click here to schedule an appointment with our support team.
- Remote Access – Employees will need special tools to access their work from home for an extended period of time. Our support staff can help you make sure all VPNs, VDIs, softphones or other remote tools are configured for employee use.
- On-Site Service – While our physical office will be closed, our technicians will still be in the field and available for emergency on-site visits.
Servpac will continue to monitor the situation globally with COVID-19 and its impacts on Hawaii. We will inform our customers of any updates or changes to our service. Please call 808-237-5000 or contact our support team for assistance.
On January 20, 2020, ThinkTech Hawaii sat down with Servpac’s Richard Zheng (President), Charity Ching (Solutions Engineer), and Cory D’Orazio (Digital Marketing Manager) to discuss their PTC experience and brand new data center facility. Check out the video and transcript below:
— Full Interview Transcript —
Richard Zheng: So this is really exciting news for the businesses. And, you know, I even have a customer asking me – should I sign up now? They worry about when we open, they won’t have a space.
Jay Fidell: So, Cory, you know, I have a hard question for you. You know, we’ve been talking to a lot of people here at PTC. We asked them, you know, what they see in the future for telecommunications. And we get different answers. We had this off the record conversation with a fellow from Amazon that was very interesting. Amazon sees this as very important – a telecom for everybody. We live more of our lives, like it or not, in telecom than we ever did before. And the generations coming up – they’re going to live more of their lives and in telecom, connecting with everyone everywhere. And one guy we talked to a minute ago was into texting. It’s a texting service and not only on cell phones, but also landlines. And I suppose you can do that easily. So my question to you is where is telecom going in the world? I mean, you’re here so you can smell out the answer. We’re only on day one. Have you? Have you worked out the answer, Cory? Where is it going?
Cory D’Orazio: Yeah, I would say Richard may have a better answer.
Richard Zheng: So, you know, when you look at the progression of how companies really from phones, Internet, cloud and now finally data center. So when we see the future, we think cloud, these are going to be the future. Just like everybody talking now, you know, like content is king. Right now, you have cell phone pictures. Do you even save in your hard drive? Most people just save in their iCloud. You know, cloud is the future and that’s why we got a data center. We have fiber optic networks. And eventually, you know, I think the business side is going to follow the consumer. The consumer is already moving in the cloud, so businesses will do the same thing. Hawaii is about two to three years behind the mainland. Most businesses in Hawaii, they’re thinking about moving to the Cloud. Let’s move the e-mail server to the cloud. They have Office 365 or G-mail instead of changing servers and maintaining and managing it. So we see within two or three year terms, we’ll move the application and data over to the cloud. That’s why when we build data center, we want to not only provide a local cloud, give people low latency and local support packages them together will also help these medium, large business to migrate to the cloud. So that’s why we have a solid infrastructure. By the end of the day, a lot of these things don’t matter. Once you have the foundation right, but you need a solid foundation. Once we have that, you know, we’re going to focus on moving to the cloud to help customers move to the cloud and help Hawaii businesses move to cloud.
Jay Fidell: I’m learning about the cloud now and I don’t know what I would do without the cloud and sort of like a data center all in my laptop because I can have as much stuff as I want and it’s automatically safe in the cloud. And from a business point of view, that’s what the data center does. But you know what? We have to hear from a millennial or an almost millennial. Charity, what are you going to be demanding in terms of the future. Where do you want to see telecom get you? What do you want to see the cloud get you? What is going to be your demand 5 or 10 years from now?
Charity Ching: I would probably want things now or I want to ensure or have confidence in knowing that it’s like. For example, you’re thinking cloud, right? That definitely where it’s going. And so I, a personal example, have my cell phone and pictures on it and I don’t want to transfer it over to a hard drive since we can save it to the cloud. So what I want to do and make my life easier is to be able to just save all of my pictures to the cloud and not even think about it and just know at any given time in the future, I can go back to that and have access to it without even worrying about is it there? Is it really? Where is the cloud? I guess that’s another little thing, right? We want it now and ensure that our information is safe. And I can. Get to it whenever I need to. Technology continues to grow and what I want is whatever is available to make my life easier.
Jay Fidell: You know, there’s the Microsoft people have a cloud. Apple has a cloud. Amazon has a cloud. All these companies have a cloud. Do I need to have a cloud with all of them? Because sometimes I can’t remember what cloud I left it with. So what do I do? Cory.
Cory D’Orazio: So Amazon, Microsoft – there are lots of big cloud providers. I would say if you are looking into having a cloud service, I recommend a local private cloud hosting service because especially if you have a lot of data that’s being hosted in the cloud, you want it confidential and don’t want other people to have access to. If you’re a local business or someone here in Hawaii, go with someone like Servpac who provides a more private hosting service. It’s more secure, more safe. And you know that your data is available locally in the right hands.
Richard Zheng: I mean we’re really excited about attending this event, present our company to the world and talk about where we going forward. You know we have all these clouds and it’s going to be a multi-cloud because one cloud cannot service everybody’s needs. So you need to have different clouds including local, Amazon, Azure, and Google. But we’re here to help people navigate through the process to be able to say if this application is better to run Microsoft or AWS. There’ll be other applications that have low latency. High, iOps. You want to run locally in Hawaii, which you know, by the way, we have a call for you.
Richard Zheng: So we want to be the integrator to give customers the whole turnkey solution. At the end of the day, customers care about service. They don’t care what backend or which cloud to use. They want be able to access information right away at their fingertips without thinking.
Jay Fidell: I take it you guys agree with that. Anything there you want to disagree with, speak now? Okay. I’m sold Richard. We got to talk. Thank you, Richard, Charity, and Cory. Great to talk to you guys. Aloha.
On Wednesday, January 29, Hawaii Public Radio’s ByteMarks Cafe invited Servpac’s Richard Zheng, President and Founder, and Kat Windham, Director of Operations to discuss the brand new data center facility. Listen and read the full interview below:
Burt Lum: Welcome back to ByteMarks Cafe. And of course, I’m happy to have Richard Zheng and Kat Windham. And they’re here to talk about Servpac. But Richard is the president and of course, Kat is the director of operations and they are one of Hawaii’s premier data centers. Now, you know, I want to welcome you both to the Byte Marks cafe.
Kat Windham: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Burt Lum: Now, before we get into the kind of the details. Well, first off, I want to give you Kat, the opportunity to share with us a little bit about what the announcement that was made at the recent Pacific Telecommunications Conference, which a lot of us attended last week. And it was kind of a convening, it is an annual event. You know, a lot of the the big bandwidth folks, data center folks, the big deal, the content folks. I mean, all the folks out of the whole Pacific sort of region, Pacific Rim, attend this conference. So it was a pretty major event. And of course, you guys had an announcement. Kat won’t you share a little bit about that.
Kat Windham: So we’re making a major announcement. Servpac is going to be opening a data center in June.
Burt Lum: And where is this located?
Kat Windham: This is in Mililani Tech park.
Burt Lum: Richard, you tell us a little bit about what the Servpac does, because it’s been around for a little while. Right. And I remember chatting with you over at PTC and it was like one of the I sometimes claimed that PTC is like a well-kept secret, but Servpac is a pretty well-kept secret.
Richard Zheng: Thanks for having us. So Servpac started in 2004 and we have been providing telecom services and managed services for businesses in Hawaii. We looked at the market and have been providing phones in that cloud, and we saw a need for data centers in Hawaii. That’s why we look at what the options are and we think that is with the opportunity here to build a large data center in Mililani Tech Park.
Burt Lum: Kat, the businesses that you currently are like what the phone company provides, or describe some of the services you deliver
Kat Windham: Okay. So we do Voice Over IP, so Voice Over Internet. We are also one of the few providers that can deploy our own fiber, so we have our own fiber infrastructure. We also do cloud services and we just got into managed services and I.T. So it’s a very exciting time for us. And of course, now this milestone of us building this data center is huge.
Burt Lum: Yeah. No, this is great now. Richard. So in terms of the details of the data center, I mean, this is in Mililani Tech Park and this is a building that you recently acquired. Tell us a little bit about that.
Richard Zheng: Yeah, so this property – the land is five acres. And there’s already a building existing there. It’s a thirty thousand square foot building. And what are we going to do is we’re going to make half of the building a data center, the other half we’re going to use for disaster recovery for businesses.
Burt Lum: And in terms of that’s a disaster recovery, what would that piece of the property have in it versus the data center?
Richard Zheng: That’s a good question. So if you look at Hawaii, majority of the businesses, like 90 percent of them, are on the South Shore of Oahu and really close to the ocean. If we have a hurricane or tsunami, a major natural disaster, businesses need some space to work. You’re talking about bank needs to process the checks and insurance company to make payments. So lots of businesses need a physical space so they can go there. And what’s nice about our space is it has generators, cafeteria, and shower so people can stay there as long as they need to get work done.
Burt Lum: And, you know, in terms of the businesses that would leverage, the disaster recovery space, would they have have perhaps encountered something kind of catastrophic? I mean, you talk about a major event that now they can’t work in their space, so they have to work in your space.
Richard Zheng: Right. It can be a major natural disaster that shuts down the whole area or could be a localized event for the building. For example, the road gets cut or they couldn’t get into the existing building.
You know, threats or those kind of things where they need a secondary space to go to work. Lots of people thinking, you know, why not just go to a hotel and rent a conference room to work in. The problem is the space needs to be very reliable – it needs power, it needs Internet and not just any internet because business these days worry about hacking and normally they don’t allow to access information from any random IP. So in our case, you know, every year they can come in and do a drill and test it to make sure the process is working so they know if they have a need, they can come in and everything is ready for them.
Burt Lum: So Kat, in terms of the companies that would potentially come in, would they in this disaster recovery area, would you describe it as primarily an office space or do they perhaps back their servers up in the disaster recovery?
Kat Windham: We will have hot desks and we’re gonna have private suites.
Burt Lum: Yeah. In terms of when you say hot desk, what does that mean?
Kat Windham: Right now we have a space and there’s multiple desks. It’s really nice, it’s lined up and that’s what we imagine renting out.
Burt Lum: And then there would be, it would be already Internet connected?
Richard Zheng: Right. So these are cubicles that are wired already, have internet drops if somebody wants to secure their connection. Also, we have Wi-Fi available. So for Internet, you know, there are multiple service providers. I mentioned about generators – multiple generators – would make sure the system is always available for these users.
Burt Lum: It all sounds like, you know, even for someone that’s maybe starting up and it’s not quite a it’s not a disaster recovery scenario, but if they needed some space to really work on their project. I mean, this would be a perfect space to do it in.
Richard Zheng: Yeah, actually, that’s a good suggestion. You know, we were thinking about that. You know, when there’s no disaster, the space is empty, and we can make it a co-working space. Innovation and the right kind of things.
Burt Lum: So there is some flexibility, I guess, with how you want to leverage the space?
Richard Zheng: Right. Because right now our focus has been building the data center. So this is space for disaster recovery in terms of using as a co-working space. You know, for people that live in North Shore and commute to downtown, this would be perfect for them.
Burt Lum: Oh, yeah. It’s right in Mililani Tech Park. So I do want to talk to you more about the data center part of the build. Well, hold that thought. We’ll be right back after this short break to continue our conversation with Richard Zheng and Kat Windham from Servpac about data centers. And of course, we’ll talk about the Internet. This is ByteMarks Cafe. Support for ByteMarks Cafe comes from the HP, our local talk show fund, which helps Hawaii Public Radio sustain and grow its locally produced talk shows. Mahalo to contribute her bush consulting. Welcome back. This is ByteMarks Cafe. I’m Burt Lum. If you’re just joining us, we’re talking to Richard Zheng and Kat Windham from Servpac about infrastructure that serves up the Internet. Of course, right before the break, we were talking about the new build that Richard and Kat, you folks are now currently got all your resources pointing to. And we talk a little bit about the the disaster recovery portion. But the kind of the main thing now is the data center. And that and you said that, you know, this is probably one of the few data centers that’s that’s in a protected zone. I mean, it’s it’s you know, it’s not subjective subject to tsunamis and that kind of natural occurrence or natural disaster. But in terms of what exactly does 30,000 square feet of data center offer Hawaii? I mean, why is this important to Hawaii in terms of getting connectivity or getting their content or applications right?
Richard Zheng: Yeah, data center is a very important component of the Internet infrastructure, because most people don’t realize they just use their iPhone or talk to Alexa. They’re getting information, which is great, but in the back hand, these big companies all have these giant server farms somewhere in the Internet. Actually, the closer to the user, the better. So, you know, if the infrastructure is you know, this data center is not working, then they couldn’t serve their content. That means when you talk to Alexa, they couldn’t give you the answer. When you look at the iPhone, you couldn’t see the pictures.
Burt Lum: And, you know, the example of like e-sports is also another one where it’s it requires low latency. And low latency means that it has to be quick to respond to the server that’s serving up that particular e-sports or application. Right. And, you know, one of the problems that we have in Hawaii is that a lot of those e-sports games are located somewhere else.
Richard Zheng: Right. People always say we’re lucky living in Hawaii. But I guess it is unlucky to access the mainland servers, it takes about a 60 to 70 millisecond latency. And this is just physics. There is nothing you can do. It doesn’t matter how much money you put in or how much pipe. So, if in the case of ESPN and other games like the first person shooter, it’s gonna kill you if there is a 60 second delay.
Burt Lum: Now, in terms of streaming content, everybody goes home to watch your Netflix or, you know, things like Amazon Prime or, you know, CBS Plus or whatever. Well, how does the data center play in terms of serving up that kind of content?
Richard Zheng: So for streaming video, normally there is a way to buffer the traffic. But, you know, for other applications such as interactive applications, let’s say, you know, for businesses, lots of people go into the route of using virtual desktop. When you access that content, it is very important to have low latency. And also another application would be we would download large files like pictures. You know, I know lots of engineers firms use trying to use AWS for the engineers 3D rendering or those applications. The latency can be a really big problem for these business applications.
Burt Lum: So, in terms of your data center, do you envision it being primarily for local businesses in Hawaii or for the nationals and multinationals? It’ll be the Googles or the Facebooks or the AWS’s, or any of those national brand names, right?
Richard Zheng: Right. So that’s a really good question. So the first priority is local business. Because there are lots of local hospitals or banks. And they need to store the information locally so the user can access fast and reliable. You know, people always say, OK, there is fiber to the mainland. I can put my content in the mainland. But what if there’s a fiber cut like what happened a few years ago in Asia.
Richard Zheng: There are big earthquakes that have cut some undersea cables and affected many people. So in our case, for the fiber cut, you’re talking about a month of repair time. So that’s why you do need to store information locally in Hawaii. So the primary target is the local business. Of course, we try to attract the Mainland providers. And a lot of people move their business applications, too, like AWS or Azure. We want to bring those providers to Hawaii so we can provide low latency applications.
Burt Lum: So even though, you know, we hear a lot about Azure, we hear about A.W.S., do those servers reside in Hawaii or somewhere else?
Richard Zheng: Yeah. They reside somewhere else because normally for these giant companies they build these large data centers themselves and put a server over there. So the closest one to Hawaii is still the West Coast.
Burt Lum: Now, is there would there be any interest as a result of your building this data center space for servers like what AWS builds to locate at your data center?
Richard Zheng: Yeah, that’s one of the goals. We want to track these large content providers or CSPs, bring them to Hawaii so people can really send the application between the Mainland and Hawaii at any time. So if you have low latency applications you can store in Hawaii but you feel you want some larger data to put on the Mainland as a backup, you can do that too.
Burt Lum: So now, there’s other data centers in Hawaii. You got DR Fortress, you got Endeavour. You got AlohaNap folks. They’re doing something similar. They need to attract the same kind of local customers. They’re trying to attract the name brands as well. So is there continual need for more data centers? What’s the demand for data center space?
Richard Zheng: Yeah, there’s actually there’s a big demand for data centers. IT used to be all the enterprises running the data centers – the banks, hospitals – their own data center. But as anything technology related, it’s getting more complex. And a lot of these enterprises look at the market and they say, “I’m doing banking, I’m running a hospital. Why do I need to be in the data center business? Why do I need to buy my own data center?” So they would rather give the headache to the provider and not worry about all the details.
Burt Lum: Now, you mentioned fiber, and I want you to kind of share the your perspective on on connectivity in terms of especially data center access fiber versus wireless. And just so people understand the concept of connectivity via High-Speed Fiber versus going wireless.
Richard Zheng: Yeah. So that the fiber and the wireless is both a great technology, but the applications are a little different. Everybody wants to go mobile. People want to access information any way they want. That’s why you see the big push for 5G going wireless. That’s great for the consumer access but once you go to the network, the backbone fiber is the way to go because of fiber’s reliability and capacity. Just wireless just couldn’t deliver.
Burt Lum: Yeah. In terms of this, it’s sort of next phase of Servpac. I mean how do you see bringing all the right customers into the data center?
Kat Windham: Right now we’re doing some marketing campaigns and not just that, it’s really word of mouth. Like you said, Servpac at one point was a pretty good kept secret. So, you know, we’ve been doing name recognition marketing, and our service is what people know us by. So I think that’s going to take us to that next step.
Burt Lum: Now, Richard, in the last 15 seconds, can you tell me what a Tier 4 is?
Richard Zheng: So there’s a company called the Uptime Institute to classify the data in different levels. So Tier 1 is the basic, Tier 4 is the highest level. So what are we gonna do is Tier 4 which is highly redundant in case anything is broken. And we have you know, what data centers don’t.
Burt Lum: So where can people find more information about Servpac?
Richard Zheng: Servpac.com
Burt Lum: Very good, I’ll put that up on our show notes. Richard Zheng is the President and of course, Kat Windham is the Director of Operations over at Servpac.
Burt Lum: I want to thank you both for joining us today.
Kat Windham: Thank you for having us.
Richard Zheng: Thanks, Burt.
HONOLULU, HI, JANUARY 17, 2020 — Servpac Inc., Hawaii’s Largest Independent Telecom Provider, announces a new data center in Mililani Tech Park. Known as MTP, the new data center facility offers state-of-the-art colocation, disaster recovery, and other interconnection services available to new and existing customers. The new facility helps businesses grow their data capacity and enable global businesses to expand operations to Hawaii.
This 30,000 sq. ft facility is located in Mililani Tech Park on Central Oahu. The Tier 4 design data center delivers a 2N redundant critical power and cooling system for guaranteed 99.999% uptime. This is a carrier-neutral facility with multiple fiber entrances, offering access to multiple providers and Servpac’s fiber optic network. Located 10 miles inland and 850 feet above sea level, the data center offers an ideal location for business continuity and disaster recovery operations. This state-of-the-art data center facility will expand Servpac’s offerings to the Hawaii market by providing customers a secure and reliable infrastructure to support their needs.
“The opening of this data center marks a major milestone for Servpac’s commitment towards local businesses,” explains President and Founder Richard Zheng. “As a local company, we plan to invest 30 million dollars in the next five years towards building this state-of-the-art telecom and managed network ecosystem for businesses in Hawaii.”
The data center offers Disaster Recovery office space with 100 hot desks and 20 private suites, available on-demand for local businesses with back-up power. On-site amenities for customers include a lounge room, kitchen, and conference rooms with 24×7 access. The Mililani location offers quick access for local businesses needing immediate protection from disruptive events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and power outages. Located on a 5-acre lot, the facility offers expansion space based on customer demand.
“We’re capable of building 150,000 sq ft of colocation and disaster recovery space for customers,” Zheng said. “Our facility will become the largest data center in Hawaii, offering world-class infrastructure and the best solutions for customers.”
Servpac, headquartered in Honolulu, is Hawaii’s largest CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) providing innovative and integrated telecom, managed IT and data center solutions for Hawaii businesses. Established in 2004, Servpac offers data center colocation, fiber connectivity, private Cloud hosting, business VoIP, and managed network for businesses – all supported by a dedicated fiber network and 24x7x365 customer support.
For more information, please call Cory D’Orazio at 808-237-5000 or e-mail email@example.com.