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A short list of things Washington is well known for: rain, Boeing, Bigfoot, Starbucks, North Face jackets, Microsoft, Twilight and... data centers? That's right, says John Sabey, president of data center giant Sabey Corp and one of our four all-star panelists at theBisnow Data Centers Real Estate Summit this Thursday at the Seattle Art Museum (sign up here!)
John Sabey at Sabey Corp. headquarters in Tukwila.
"Our state is probably the cheapest place to have a data center in the developed world," John tells us. (Wait until that data demands more amenities. 1's and 0's like to have dry cleaning nearby.) We snapped John, whose father Dave founded their company in 1972, at his Tukwila office. How did Washington become such a data center draw? Part of it is the temperate climate, but the other is that we're primarily a hydroelectric state, and hydro is the greenest and most economic power source in the US. Have a data center here, "and you can reach your cost operations and tell a very green story," John says.
The Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia Riiver.
Above, Grand Coulee Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the nation. What's driving demand for data centers? Heathcare research and development, John says. And people's neverending desire to update their Facebook profiles: "It's an avalanche of data," John says. "And it needs somewhere to live." What data does John generate? "I have been doing a lot of traveling, so I use Slingbox a lot."
Callison principal Leonard Ruff.
Callison principal Leonard Ruff knows there's a perception that data centers are energy hogs, and counts sustainability as one of the new frontiers in data center architecture. The next big thing for data centers is cloud computing, which will require a level of unprecedented geodiversity—access to files and services no matter where you are on the planet—which will increase demand for data center space to support computing, storage and networking capability. Leonard's job is to design those power dense data center spaces as efficiently as possible, while taking into account the potential for power failures. "It's all about getting power to the servers," he says. "Even though we go to great lengths to assure high levels of reliability, you always have to have a backup plan, which means physical and logical redundency in equipment, facilities and computing platforms."