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Every day, 15 pedibytes of new data is created—that's the equivalent of 200 years of HDTV programming. Today at the Westin River North, panelists at Bisnow's Data Center Boom taught an audience of 300 where all of that new data is going.
Paul Himes
If we uploaded this photo of Himes Associates' Paul Himes to Facebook , it would be one of three billion uploaded this month, Paul says. Info we put on the Internet, or info we access out of the Internet (Gmail, iPhone games, Facebook) are all a part of the cloud, which has to be stored somewhere. (And paying people to memorize it just doesn't work.) Paul, a 30-year data center development veteran, remembers when info was stored in “computer rooms with glass fronts so you could see the blinking lights.” Now, he says, companies are willing to house their data centers farther away with proven owners who can keep the center secure and resilient.
Superior Spaces JMini
Steve Manos
Chicago is a great crossroads for fiber in the US, says Lee Technologies' Steve Manos.  And as more entrepreneurs find ways to turn data into dollars (by selling ads on social media sites or trading online mailing lists or information), the need for data center space will continue to rise. But not all corporations will choose to collocate in multi-tenant data centers. Companies with more specialized needs, like hospitals, will still want their data onsite or nearby, which is driving the need for data centers in the city or close-in 'burbs.
Phil Horstmann
Ascent's Phil Horstmann has specialized in suburban data centers and is developing one in Northlake. While some argue that suburban data centers aren't attracting the same talent as urban data centers, Phil says there are enough high-tech workers willing to drive to the 'burbs. That's partially because there's just more demand for data: it's outstripping supply by 2:1. Another advantage of the ‘burbs: low electricity prices. Phil estimates he saves 17% to 20% on power in centers outside of city limits.
Comcast's David Lopez says one of the biggest issues he deals with is latency — how close a user is to its data center. (Like are they friends, or bytes with benefits?) Latency affects the speed with which a user can store and retrieve data, which is very important for the cable provider. But the cloud is helping Comcast find the space it needs and get data to its clients faster. David says the main issue slowing down data is the device we use to retrieve it: our mobile phone or computer.
Here's a handful of our guests this morning—we hope to see many of you again next month for our Industrial Summit!
Dave Hall
You might know Clune Construction from its tenant build-outs, but it also has a 30-person mission critical construction group. Clune's Dave Hall says that every company, from law firms to carpet manufacturers, is facing the fact that it needs a data center these days. But they want to lease from a developer, owner, and contractor who know what they're doing (no newbies need apply). He says a lot of Chicago companies are keeping their data centers local because of the low power costs relative to other states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas.
Mike Kuppinger
EVP's Mike Kuppinger says Chicago also benefits from “free cooling”—meaning we can use outside air to keep data storage racks from overheating (we also refer to this as “wind chill” or “OMG, it's cold”). But new technologies are also allowing data centers to operate their equipment at 80 to 90 degrees. Mike says a lot of companies looking for new data center space now want it to be existing or almost completed before they sign a lease (spec space is not an option).
Matt Carolan
That said, JLL's Matt Carolan says spec developments like 350 Cermak and Red Sea have found success in the past. Private equity is chasing data center deals today because ROI can be very fast at the rate data centers are growing, Matt says. They're often chasing after deals on the near south side or near west side, where ComEd substations provide lots of power and redundancy.
Josh Buis
Redevelopment is one of the coolest trends Josh Buis has seen for new data centers. Everything from old urban warehouses to missile silos in the middle of nowhere is being used to store data. But “data huggers” (meaning companies who like to be close to their info, not girls who like nerds) are keeping most of the centers close to major metro areas. While power and water might be less expensive in rural areas, talent and latency tend to stay close to the city, Josh says.
Michael Rechtin
There's one more reason data centers might be booming right now, says Quarles & Brady's Michael Rechtin: Lots of companies put their data needs on hold because of the recession, and now their needs have increased so much they can't hold off any longer. Looking back, Michael says, the data center industry has changed very quickly over the last 10 years. He'd like to get this same panel together again in another 10 years to see how much more has happened (although by that time we assume we'll all be meeting as holograms).