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Chi-town Data Center Insights

National Data Center

One of the perks of Bisnow having a national presence is getting updates from on the ground in cities like Chicago. At Bisnow's 3rd Annual Data Center Boom event at Trump International there, Ascent CEO Phil Horstmann spoke about developing a 250k SF multi-tenant center in Northlake and about getting started on CH3 in the South Loop. He's seen data center outsourcing on the rise since '03, and money flowing in has driven down the cost of capital and propelled innovation. After Superstorm Sandy, there's been great interest from coastal financial firms, he says.


Cedar Rapids-based Involta builds retail data centers in secondary markets like Iowa and outside Minneapolis. With the data center landscape and technology changing at a rapid rate, CEO Bruce Lehrman says owners have to be like Wayne Gretzky and skate to where the puck is going. Bruce is seeing many Chicago firms looking to take their secondary data center outside the city to markets with more land and lower power costs, and the challenge is building out capacity as needed in a modular fashion. Price matters, but so does consider location, reputation, and operational processes (what happens when things go bad).


Now that the top 10 data cities are blanketed with millions of square feet, Ubiquity Critical Environments COO Sean Farney says pre-engineered modular solutions will be quickly deployed in smaller data centers in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. It's become a bifurcated arena, with service providers able to build huge facilities with bleeding edge MEP systems and enterprise users that don't need or have the capital to spend. And the edge is where everything is headed. Thanks to our constant need for Netflix, data centers have morphed from monolithic carrier hotels to smaller, more spread out sites, delivering bandwidth and content to close proximity consumers, he adds. Thanks, Kevin Spacey.