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In An Amazon World, Data Centers Are Prime

As Amazon and retailers nationwide recover from a blowout Amazon Prime Day sales event, the role data centers play in lifting up retail is coming into sharper focus. 


“Online retail generates a need for new applications. The application could be data analytics, online retail e-commerce or some other type of application,” said Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner's Jim Grice, a partner and global team leader of the data center and digital infrastructure team. 

As e-commerce grows, it increases demand for data centers, with typical retail data space and overall cloud storage increasing in size and volume. 

“Are we going to see more demand from the little guys, the medium-sized guys, as well as the big guys [in retail]?” Stream Data Centers Executive Vice President and partner Anthony Bolner asked. 

“Absolutely. I think the only question is whether small and medium-sized demand is going to colocation [centers] or to the cloud,” said Bolner, who is speaking at Bisnow's Data Center Investment Conference (DICE South) Aug. 20. “I don’t think it really matters. The cloud providers also are leasing data center space or building their own.”

About 20% of the DFW data center market supported cloud users, while 19% is allocated to tech users and 6% to retail and commerce users, according to JLL's Global Data Center Outlook released earlier this year.

But those numbers aren't as sharp as they may appear: Retailers may also be using cloud data services rather than securing their own space at data centers. 

Bolner said the vast majority of the data center activity he sees stems from large retailers or tech companies that are having to be more transactional or to use computing or data services in a more sophisticated manner to meet customer expectations.

Both analysts predict even more appetite for data in the coming two to 10 years, and JLL data, with respect to DFW in particular, supports their thesis. 


The data industry last year alone absorbed 775 megawatts, an increase of 191.5 MW year over year, JLL said. This data point covers U.S. markets and data centers across the globe. Megawatts or kilowatt-hours measure the energy output of a particular data center. 

“Our industry’s growing global pipeline exemplifies increasing consumer demand around the world and the continued adoption of next-gen applications,” said Bo Bond, JLL's managing director and data center solutions co-lead, in his report. 

“Increased emphasis on convenience, security and overall flexibility to quickly adjust to consumers’ growing needs are driving a significant amount of the activity and, in part, elevating investor interest.”

Bond and JLL researchers also noted that cloud activity rose in 2018, with U.S.-based tech companies and cloud users pushing demand higher. 

In DFW, data activity grew on the strength of all enterprise transactions, which averaged 250 kW to 2.5 MWs each, JLL said in its Global Data Center Outlook.

“Big picture, I would say Dallas is a healthy market,” Bolner said. “There is both a good pipeline of demand; and there is also a good steady pipeline of supply, both existing and planned. That's the key. The key providers have done a good job here in Dallas of not only bringing good product to the market, but they’ve also secured sites that will allow them to deliver long-term scale.” 

You can learn more about the Dallas-Fort Worth data center market at Bisnow's Dice South 2019 conference Aug. 20.