Data Center Development: Why There’s No Two Alike
Despite the relatively young data center industry, the market has evolved and so has the development side. Skybox Datacenters managing partner Rob Morris (left, with Lincoln Rackhouse’s Clark Jones and Christopher Walsh and Skybox’s Ben Atkins) says he’s seeing spec and build-to-suit projects, but it’s all about the swing of the market and the opportunities that present themselves. Dallas is a hot market, but just two years ago, he says, the sky was falling with a plethora of product coming on line. Skybox took advantage of timing and purchased a Dallas asset then and just sold it earlier this year. Skybox is working with Corgan on a 12.5 megawatt project in Houston. The spec project turned into a spec-to-suit when a Fortune 200 firm approached Skybox and wanted to up the ante on the efficiency. Evaporative cooling and some solar arrays were added, among other things, he says.
Corgan principal Jim Cober (right, with Skybox’s Tom Leiser) says the shift from enterprise to third-party sites has changed the data center industry. Enterprise users are learning from the third-party operators and diversifying their options (cloud, etc.) and also building more efficient data centers. Jim is also seeing more demand for waterless systems or for designs making water a non-critical component of operation as areas like California suffer drought conditions. He’s also seeing more requests for Tier III data centers because they are more cost effective, especially for companies that don’t need the added security on top of their data needs.
Stream Data Centers managing director and partner Anthony Bolner (right, with RENG’s Greg Wingate) says the three most overused words in the data center industry are scale, modularity and flexibility. (And, maybe cloud is a close fourth, he says.) Anthony teased that Dallas-based Stream should be making a return in the Dallas market in the next four to six months, but nothing has been formalized. Dallas is a hyper competitive market, but very healthy, he says.
Compass Datacenters SVP Chris Curtis (third from the left with the event panel at last week’s Bisnow Dallas Data Center Extravaganza) says his firm has added six new data centers in the past 24 months. Data centers are technology-based, but they’re also still real estate and finance businesses, which move in cycles; so the industry needs to be cautious, regardless of how hot the market is, Chris says. He did tease that Dallas could see Compass in the market, very soon.