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From Site Selection magazine, June 2021

The Numbers Don't Lie: Where Data Center Projects are Going Today and Tomorrow

Facebook is investing in a major facility in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Rendering courtesy of Facebook

by Adam Bruns

Of the 400 major data center facility investments tracked globally by Site Selection and the Conway Data Projects Database since January 1, 2018, precisely 198 have taken place in the United States.

Accepting that there are a few (dozen?) projects we’re probably not learning about in China, here are the non-U.S. countries where we’ve found the most projects landing that involve at least $1 million invested, 20 new jobs or 20,000 new sq. ft. of space:


At the international metro level, London continues to lead the way, but India is the only country with multiple metros in the Top 10:


By U.S. state, the breakdown goes like this:


Break the figures down by metro area, and the following leaders emerge domestically:


Saturated? Not Yet

Among projects landing in recent months was yet another major site in the largest data center corridor in the world, Northern Virginia.

San Francisco–based hyperscale data center developer and operator Yondr Group in June announced the acquisition of 270 acres in Loudoun and Prince William counties, where the company expects to deliver 500 MW of IT capacity. The projects will come to a Northern Virginia data center market with more than 1.2 GW of total leased data center absorption to date; close to 240 MW of data centers currently under construction; and a projected data center space growth rate of 13.8% in 2021.

“With our Americas expansion plan in full swing, being strategically located in Northern Virginia will allow our clients to access the country’s largest data center corridor,” said Éanna Murphy, a former Google data center leader who now serves as senior vice president of operations, Americas at Yondr Group. That location includes close proximity to Northern Virginia’s major fiber path and power transmission lines. “Our partnership with JK Land Holdings and support from both county governments will allow our clients to grow at scale in this metro.”

“Northern Virginia is one of the many milestones Yondr is working towards as we expand in the United States, Canada and Latin America, as part of our global scaling strategy,” said Pete Jones, chief development officer and founder at Yondr Group, before citing other locations that are part of the company’s plan. “With projects currently under development in London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Jakarta, Indonesia and in multiple cities in India, the addition of Northern Virginia reinforces Yondr’s commitment to deliver data centers across five continents by 2024.”

The Lowdown from C&W

In February, Cushman & Wakefield’s 2021 Global Data Center Market Comparison report found, to no one’s surprise, that Northern Virginia is still the No. 1 data center market globally, followed by No. 2 Chicago (same as Site Selection’s findings) and No. 3 Sydney, which was the biggest upward mover. The study evaluated 1,189 data centers around the world, “utilizing a unique weighted methodology to rank 48 global markets” to arrive at the overall top 10:


Silicon Valley continues to welcome projects, with Equinix in June announcing its newest International Business Exchange data center in Silicon Valley at its Great Oaks campus in San Jose. The $142 million facility, named SV11, was expected to open at the end of June. With the addition of SV11, Equinix has invested more than $1.25 billion in the local economy and has additional land in the area for future expansion.

Hyperscale Momentum

Ah, but Equinix was just getting started. On June 14, the company announced agreements for additional joint ventures in the form of limited liability partnerships with GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, which when closed and built out will bring the xScale data center portfolio to greater than $6.9 billion across 32 facilities globally. That portfolio adds to Equinix’s global platform of more than 220 International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers “by serving the unique core workload deployment needs of a targeted group of hyperscale companies, including the world’s largest cloud service providers,” said an Equinix release. The xScale data center portfolio will span three regions:

  • Europe: Frankfurt (five xScale data centers), Paris (four), Dublin (three), London (two), Madrid (two), Helsinki (one), Milan (one), and Warsaw (one);
  • Asia-Pacific: Three each in Osaka and Tokyo;
  • Americas: São Paulo (three) and Mexico City (one).

Three additional sites are expected to be announced at a future date.

Asia-Pac Power

“Asia Pacific markets continue to perform well as data center destinations given its overall growth potential and the rapid development of technology platforms and networks across many of its markets,” said Cushman & Wakefield APAC Data Center Advisory Group Leader Todd Olson.

The Cushman & Wakefield report noted that Chennai, India, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are among those emerging players. Recent reports from Chicago-based Arizton Advisory and Intelligence about various Asian markets project a CAGR of around 7% for Japan and for Malaysia from 2020 through 2026. This holds for Japan despite core and shell construction costs there that are triple the U.S. rate and double what it costs in China.

In Malaysia, Arizton says, “Cyberjaya is the most developed data center market with around 14 unique third-party data center facilities accounting for over 70% of the existing power capacity. Other locations such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Shah Alam, and Penang will witness increased investment in 2021-2026.” In addition, the report highlights the Kulai Iskandar Data Exchange (KIDEX), which has over 700 acres of industrial land allocated for data center development, and access to around 600 MW of power.

The Cushman & Wakefield report says of the new markets introduced this year, Seoul received the highest overall score. “Although considered a secondary market, Seoul has nearly 300 MW of capacity, a solid development pipeline, and all major cloud services available,” the report states. “Well-managed cities with smaller markets such as Zurich, Melbourne, and Madrid enjoyed continued gains, suggesting growing ecosystems in secondary locations, and long-time data center stalwarts London, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Silicon Valley, and Hong Kong all remain extremely relevant.”

Meanwhile, some markets have had challenges due to running out of power, space or both.

“Although Singapore and Amsterdam both have tempered data center development via local moratoriums, both still finished in the top 10, a testament to their strong existing markets, dense fiber and array of available services,” the report stated. “As other markets continue to grow, it will remain imperative for both markets to find solutions for future development, potentially through new forms of power generation or further multi-story construction for the limited number of remaining development sites.”

Indeed, the Arizton report corroborates, “Owing to land constraints in Singapore for data center development, investments have started spilling over to Malaysia, which will be another reason for increase in investments during the forecast period.”

The Cushman & Wakefield report says the pandemic effect simply gave a push to what was already unfolding.

“The 2020 pandemic accelerated the change in corporate IT strategy, as companies rapidly shifted to the cloud,” said Dave Fanning, executive managing director and the company’s Data Center Advisory Group leader. “Construction of new product has skyrocketed, with the 1.6 GW under construction across markets studied last year swelling to 2.9 GW in this year’s edition.”

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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