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DATA CENTERS
From Site Selection magazine, July 2017
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Big Data, Big Moves, Big Merger

DATA CENTERS
Image: Getty Images
by ADAM BRUNS

The numbers show what we already, in a sense, know: All those data plans the world is using require some physical plans for processing and storing that data. That means megadeals and hot territories. Meanwhile, the hits keep on coming, as does the M&A activity.

Nevada-based Switch thrives on headline-grabbing scale, and its latest project doesn’t disappoint. In May, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that Switch will create 65 jobs, and along with its clients, invest $2.5 billion in a Switch PRIME data center in Douglas County nicknamed “The Keep.”

Since January 2016, Site Selection’s Conway Projects Database has tracked nearly 240 major facility investments involving a data center component. Outside the US, the top countries by number of data centers are:

India 34
China 12
Ireland 11
Germany 7
Australia 7
Canada 6
Philippines 6
UK 6

But the United States remains the far-and-away leader, with 97 projects over that span of time. The leading states by number of projects:

Texas 19
Michigan 11
Ohio 9
Virginia 7
Iowa 6
Missouri 6
Nevada 4
Nebraska 4
Nevada 4
Kentucky 4

The new metro Atlanta location, encompassing more than 1 million sq. ft. (92,900 sq. m.), will be the highest-rated data center in the Southeast and the fourth Switch PRIME campus located in the United States. The campus is projected to grow to several times that size, with two campus locations as the ecosystem eventually grows, serving as a hub for Miami; Ashburn, Virginia, and the entire Southeastern US.

Switch’s home territory keeps welcoming more data center activity too — and not just from Switch.

In May, Apple announced it would invest another $1 billion in its data center campus outside Reno, Nevada. “As part of our growth we plan to hire 100 employees and expect construction will support an additional 300 jobs,” the company said in a statement to CNBC.

But Switch continues to grow there too. In mid-June, the company opened its LAS VEGAS 10 facility at Switch’s Core Campus. “Fueled by strong demand for colocation services from the company’s existing and new clients, Switch’s LAS VEGAS 10 adds nearly 350,000 sq. ft. (32,515 sq. m.) and up to 40 megawatts (MW) of power to The Core Campus in Las Vegas, making it currently over 2 million sq. ft. (185,800 sq. m.) of data center space with up to 315 MW of power,” said the company.

Switch’s clients include Amazon Web Services, eBay, FOX, Amgen, fellow Vegas employer Zappos, Intuit, DreamWorks, Intel, HP, Boeing, Warner Brothers, NASA and Verizon. “Almost 1,000 construction workers, 85 percent of whom are Nevadans, have been employed building LAS VEGAS 10 over the past eight months,” the company stated.

Sunny climes are appealing to DuPont Fabros Technology (DFT) too, which in May announced it has purchased an undeveloped 56-acre (22-hectare) site in Mesa’s Elliot Road Technology Corridor in Greater Phoenix where it plans to develop a data center campus with capacity for up to 1 million sq. ft. (92,900 sq. m.).

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) provided DFT with a first introduction to the market that highlighted the benefits of doing business in Arizona. The ACA also provided site selection assistance, connectivity to city partners in Mesa and to local utilities, consulting on Arizona’s Certified Data Center program, and market cost comparisons.

“The continued demand for data storage, data processing and the ever-growing cloud infrastructure is placing a demand for state-of-the-art data center facilities,” Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said. “This announcement further illustrates Greater Phoenix’s position as a top data center market in the US.”

Mega-Merger

The DC-based REIT’s 12 data centers are located in three major U.S. markets and total 3.5 million gross sq. ft. (325,150 sq. m.) and 302 megawatts of available critical load. But that collective load is about to get a whole lot bigger.

That’s because, in June, DuPont Fabros and San Francisco–based Digital Realty announced a merger valued at $7.6 billion. Among the benefits the companies highlighted in the announcement:

  • Enhances Ability to Serve Top U.S. Metro Areas: “DuPont Fabros’ portfolio is concentrated in top US data center metro areas across Northern Virginia, Chicago and Silicon Valley. The transaction will help grow Digital Realty’s presence in strategic, high-demand metro areas with strong growth prospects, while achieving significant diversification benefits for DuPont Fabros’ shareholders from the combination with Digital Realty’s existing footprint of 145 properties across 33 global metropolitan areas.”
  • Expands Hyper-Scale Product Offering: “DuPont Fabros’ 12 purpose-built, in-service data centers will significantly expand Digital Realty’s hyper-scale product offering and improve its ability to meet the rapidly growing needs of cloud and cloud-like customers, in addition to enterprise customers undertaking the shift to a hybrid cloud architecture. Conversely, the transaction enables DuPont Fabros to address a broader set of customers’ data center requirements, with the addition of Digital Realty’s colocation and interconnection product offerings.”
  • Development Pipeline Provides External Growth Potential: “DuPont Fabros’ six data center development projects currently under construction are 48 percent pre-leased and represent a total expected investment of approximately $750 million, and amount to roughly a 26-percent expansion of its standalone critical load capacity. These projects are located in Ashburn, Chicago, Santa Clara and Toronto, all metro areas where Digital Realty has an existing presence. These six projects are expected to be delivered over the next 12 months, representing a solid pipeline of future growth potential. In addition, DuPont Fabros owns strategic land holdings in Ashburn and Oregon, which will support the future delivery of up to 163 megawatts of incremental capacity, along with 56 acres of land recently acquired in Phoenix.”

“This strategic and complementary transaction significantly enhances Digital Realty’s ability to support the growth of hyper-scale users in the top US data center metro areas, while providing meaningful customer and geographic diversification for DuPont Fabros,” said A. William Stein, Digital Realty’s CEO, calling the deal “the largest transaction in our company’s history, a combination that we believe will enhance our ability to create significant long-term value for both sets of shareholders.”

“We are excited to deliver this compelling transaction to our shareholders and execute upon two of the strategic objectives embodied in our corporate vision — diversifying our customer base and expanding our geographic presence,” said Christopher P. Eldredge, DuPont Fabros’ president & CEO.

DFT’s project in Greater Toronto is the company’s first data center in Canada. Like a mall given over to e-commerce warehousing, it too embodies a generational shift, as it involves the redevelopment of the former Toronto Star printing plant in Vaughan, Ontario.

Adam Bruns
Managing Editor of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

   



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