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Loudoun County Is Locus Of Data Centers. Here's Why

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Whenever you send an email, tweet, scour the web for the hottest deals or binge-watch Netflix, it is highly likely your online activity is going through a Loudoun County data center. Up to 70% of the world’s internet traffic goes through Loudoun County every day, bringing $110M of tax revenue to the county.

A recent white paper by Data Center Frontier revealed that Ashburn, which has become known as “Data Center Alley” for its concentration of mission-critical facilities that store and distribute data, sits atop the world’s densest intersection of fiber networks. The location initially attracted developer interest with its 20% below-average electricity cost, and now has more than 10M SF of data centers with another 3.5M SF planned, laying the physical foundation of the digital economy.

On the approach to or takeoff from Dulles, travelers’ flights will often take them over the cluster, which represents the world's fastest-growing data center market. The area has the highest density of dark fiber, which provides scalable bandwidth and low latency connections to the backbone of all modern businesses — the internet.

What began as a retail co-location market has since experienced early adoption of wholesale data suites, “super wholesale” leases spanning multiple data halls, and now build-to-suit cloud facilities. The region continues to see demand for traditional co-location space, particularly from media companies, IT integrators and government agencies.

Loudoun County Is Locus Of Data Centers. Here's Why

Developers are responding to the surge in interest by building larger data centers, including multi-story facilities, building up rather than out to maximize the land-use of their existing real estate portfolio. As the region’s building boom continues, experts expect increased competition for the supply of development sites suitable for data centers.

The Ashburn area is dominated by large data center providers. Digital Realty continues to develop its campus there and has recently expanded, acquiring two parcels of land. DuPont Fabros is about a mile northeast and has a significant presence and room to build additional facilities, should tenant demand necessitate them. RagingWire has two large data centers in Ashburn, and has started construction on a new, 78-acre campus with room to accommodate six buildings. Equinix’s well-documented interest in the northern Virginia market has not attenuated. It is currently building multiple stand-alone data centers in the area while breaking ground on a second campus and acquiring land for a third.

Approximately one mile southeast is Sterling, another area with a growing number of data centers. CenturyLink, CyrusOne and Digital Realty are big players there.

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Northern Virginia houses large portions of the infrastructure supporting the public clouds operated by Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Oracle, plus hyperscale players like Facebook and Apple and data-driven companies Uber, LinkedIn and Dropbox. The demand for data center space is driven by innovation and adoption in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality and the Internet of Things.