Nearly 600 people joined yesterday’s grand opening celebration for Loudoun’s newest data center.
Built by Equinix, a pioneer of Ashburn’s Data Center Alley, DC12 is a $98.5 million, LEED-Gold certified facility supporting the ever-growing demand for interconnection capacity from companies and government agencies. As its name indicates, it is the 12th data center and most advanced Equinix has built in the DC market. It is located just down the road from DC1, developed in 1998 at the dawn of the internet age.
With the addition of DC12 and the acquisition of 29 data centers from Verizon last spring, including two in the DC area, Equinix now operates 14 data centers in the region.
Equinix has invested nearly $1 billion in the region and has purchased 34.5 acres in Ashburn for future expansion. Four more data centers can be built on the DC12 campus, just off Loudoun County Parkway.
Thursday’s five-hour grand opening ceremony was attended by county government leaders, technology executives, other business leaders—and a roster of customer prospects who are expected to help fill the vacant server cabinets. It included the presentation of a $15,000 donation to the Boulder Crest Retreat for military veterans and first responders in Bluemont.
Equinix President Karl Strohmeyer explained the company’s focus on delivering customers the best connections to the world’s top cloud platforms including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Oracle Cloud.
Matthew Douglas, the director of Cloud & Solutions Architecture for Virginia’s Smithfield, touted the importance of the Equinix architecture as his company continues to diversify. “We used to just look at bacon. That’s what things were—bacon and ribs,” Douglas said. Today, Smithfield is involved in bioscience and genetics—making everything from insulin to skin grafts made from pig skin—in 45 plants across the country.
Smithfield had little focus on technology when Douglas joined the company to find 11-year-old computer systems. “I was told we can do our business with a pencil,” Douglas said. “If you’re still doing business with a pencil, you’re going to be out of business.”
“The next guy is going to come in and do predictive analytics, machine learning [and] the internet of things, he said “Our competitors, they’re not there yet. We were the first ones there leveraging these technologies.”
Jon Lin, Equinix’s vice president of Corporate Development and Strategy, said the strategy of providing interconnected service was the company’s hallmark since its founding two decades ago—at a time when many consumers still used dial-up modem connections to get online and advanced businesses used T1 lines and clunky VPN technology.
“How do those networks connect to each other? How does an AT&T customer talk to a Verizon customer? How does AOL as a service provider talk to any of those internet customers,” Lin said. “So, the idea was, let’s get everybody together into one facility. Everybody can pull their networks into one place and then you can connect to any of those networks from that spot.”
From that beginning at DC1, Equinix now operates 190 data centers in 48 metro areas and 24 countries and 10,000 customers.
Lin says there is no end in sight for growth in Loudoun’s Data Center Alley, but it’s not just your Netflex stream or Amazon shopping cart that will be driving it.
“The appetite to consume more data and figure out how to analyze it to gain insights is not slowing down at all. Instead it is actually accelerating,” he said. “Now that people are seeing the initial use cases that they can do with that data and saying ‘Oh, I can apply this to 15 different area of my business. I need to start collecting that data.’”
Increasing demand for more complex real-time analytics will further drive the demand for interconnected services, he said.
That’s a demand Strohmeyer said his company is ready to meet for years to come.