Edward Lowe Foundation - A Michigan Colocation Case Study


When a farmer accidentally cut a cable and internet service failed, the Edward Lowe Foundation chalked it up to rural happenstance. The nonprofit knew Cassopolis would present unique challenges not found in a larger, more urban areas, but the southwestern Michigan village was home.

So the organization did what any group created to “champion the entrepreneurial spirit” would do—it found ways to work around inconsistent bandwidth and unpredictable power outages.

Then the Edward Lowe Foundation began to grow. Its online research, recognition and educational programs gained popularity. Web site traffic increased. Partnerships were formed, and the foundation began selling services.

Suddenly, the inconsistencies were more than inconveniences. The foundation now had the responsibility to deliver consistent access, but it was having a hard time keeping up with demand. Improving its sites’ reliability and high availability became an immediate need.

“As we begin selling services and delivering data to partners like NASDAQ, it was obvious that we had to have a solid solution,” said Chris Ryback, Manager of Technical and Digital Media at the Edward Lowe Foundation.

The issue ignited when a fire broke out in the building. The data was spared, but before the smoke lifted, it was clear that something had to be done to improve security, reliability and availability.


Like many nonprofits, the Edward Lowe Foundation was reliant on the Internet to conduct its daily business. Any break in connectivity could result in a loss of revenue, reduced donations, and negative customer experiences. At the same time, the cost of building its own data center—or even hiring an IT staff to manage it—was prohibitive.

Finding a partner with a proven track record was a must.

Looking for both reliable power and connectivity, Online Tech’s colocation services stood out. With dual Cisco routers and uninterruptible power supplies thanks to battery arrays and generators, Online Tech offered the fully redundant power and network infrastructure the nonprofit desperately sought.

Through Online Tech, the Edward Lowe Foundation gained an IT framework that ensures its critical data and applications are always secure and available 24/7. Online Tech’s high-availability power greatly reduces the possibility of any single point of failure—incorporating everything from uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) to backup electrical circuits that protect the nonprofit’s servers.

“We could not replicate the IT infrastructure we get with Online Tech’s data centers,” said Ryback. “By partnering with Online Tech we don’t have to worry about our infrastructure and can focus on what is important to us—being a thought leader in business.”

The Edward Lowe Foundation doesn’t have to worry about Online Tech’s infrastructure, either. The “Fort Knox” of data owns two facilities straddling two different power grids. Located 53 miles apart, these centers are interconnected with dedicated Gigabit fiber to ensure the Internet is always up, the power is always on, and the data is always available.

Just in case of fire or any other unforeseen disaster.


Established in 1985, the Edward Lowe Foundation is a national, nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship through research, recognition and educational programs, which are delivered through entrepreneur support organizations. The foundation focuses on second-stage companies — those that have moved beyond the startup phase and seek significant, steady growth. For more information, visit www.edwardlowe.org.

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