Lee Kestler, Aligned and AWS Lead NVTC Data Center Award Winners

NVTCLee Kestler of Vantage Data Centers was honored as the 2020 Data Center Industry Icon as the Northern Virginia Technology Council recognized the industry’s accomplishments and community impact at its second annual Virginia Data Center Awards. Amazon Web Services, Aligned and Verity Commercial were the leading corporate winners, while Thomas Ciccone (STACK Infrastructure), Erich Sanchack (Digital Realty) and Dan Fulcoly (QTS Data Centers) were among the individuals receiving NVTC awards, which were presented Wednesday in a virtual broadcast by NVTC.

The awards recognize the significant impact of the data center sector and its leaders on communities in Northern Virginia. According to NVTC’s 2020 Impact of Data Centers report, in 2018 the data center industry provided 14,644 full-time-equivalent jobs in Virginia with an average annual pay of $126,000, as well as more than $600 million in tax revenue

“NVTC is proud to recognize these winners for their remarkable achievement as well as their contributions to the overall success of the region,” said Brad Schwartz, Acting President and CEO of NVTC.

“When NVTC first launched our Data Center and Cloud Committee in 2011, our intention was to help support, grow and advocate on behalf of our data center sector,” said Schwartz. “We are proud to be part of an industry that continues to generate high paying jobs, drive impressive tax revenue and serve as strong community stewards for the Commonwealth.”

Here are the NVTC 2020 Virginia Data Center Award winners, with background from their nomination submissions:

Data Center Industry Icon

Lee Kestler, Aligned and AWS Lead NVTC Data Center Award Winners 1

Lee Kestler, Vantage Data Centers (Photo: Vantage)

Vantage Data Centers chief commercial officer Lee Kestler is a long- time Loudoun County resident and data center industry veteran with extensive experience working with hyperscale, cloud and enterprise customers. For 30 years, Lee has shown an unwavering commitment to and passion for the Northern Virginia data center community. In addition to his work at Exodus Communications and DuPont Fabros Technology, he has been a relentless advocate for the region. He joined Vantage Data Centers in 2018 to lead the company’s expansion into Northern Virginia with a 42-acre 142MW mega campus with five planned multi-story data centers. Lee has frequently extolled the virtues of Northern Virginia as a technology epicenter through media interviews, speaking appearances, events and more.

Lee has become known as a trusted mentor throughout the Northern Virginia data center community, and has had a positive influence on the many peers he has worked with throughout his career. In fact, members of Lee’s own family have followed directly in his footsteps and have worked or are now actively contributing to Northern Virginia’s data center sector, including his wife, son, and daughter.

Data Center Community Champion

The judges recognized two winners in this category: Amazon Web Services and Thomas “TJ” Ciccone of Stack Infrastructure.

Lee Kestler, Aligned and AWS Lead NVTC Data Center Award Winners 2Amazon Web Services sponsors the annual AWS Girls’ Tech Day for girls in grades 3 – 12, and young women 18-24 years of age. This hands-on, minds-on day of activities is designed to inspire and empower young girls and young women to pursue interests and careers in technology. In 2019, over 500 girls and young women attended the event, with over 100 AWS data center and other AWS employees serving as volunteers and mentors. The event, which was piloted in Northern Virginia two years ago, has become a global signature event for AWS with Girls’ Tech Days now in Sweden, South Africa, Australia and Ireland in addition to the US. The event is diverse, inclusive, free and open to all girls regardless of ability, or disability. AWS works with organizations throughout Northern Virginia to ensure that those in underserved communities are able to attend, including 70 girls impacted by homelessness in 2019.

Lee Kestler, Aligned and AWS Lead NVTC Data Center Award Winners 3In 2019, Thomas Ciccone of STACK Infrastructure led or took part in several initiatives that reflect his commitment toward investing in, and positively impacting, the data center community. His most significant contribution comes from his involvement with Northern Virginia Community College. In September 2018, the college launched the first ever two-year degree program designed specifically for data center operators in the state of Virginia. As part of this initiative, TJ located critical program resources for the college (including a free digital text book for all students), developed the entire curriculum for the Introduction to Data Center Operations course, and served as a liaison between the college and their third-party contractor on building a mini data center lab on the Loudoun campus.

Data Center Construction Project

The Aligned Ashburn data center in Northern Virginia. (Photo: Aligned)

The Aligned Ashburn data center in Northern Virginia. (Photo: Aligned)

For its Aligned Ashburn project, Aligned employed its standardized supply chain methodology – which consisted of an inventory of prefabricated, factory-built and tested power and cooling equipment, and best-of-breed partners – to construct a 368,000 square-foot data center and built out the first 12MW of data center space, expandable to 60 MW in less than six months. The initial facility and the next-phase 409,000-square-foot, 120 MW development, sit atop major fiber and conduit routes, providing access to more than 50 carriers in the immediate area. The campus features Aligned’s adaptable and intelligent Delta3 cooling technology, purpose-built to support high, mixed, and variable power densities of 1-50kW per cabinet in the same footprint.

The project used no drywall during construction for worksite safety, as drywall installers are commonly at risk for back injuries, falls and respiratory exposure to dust, including silica. Reinforcing the company’s mission of sustainability, the project utilized fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) instead of traditional steel and concrete elements for its yard perimeter wall. With existing utilities feeding other neighboring data centers, Aligned had to relocate them out of its building footprint without impacting its operations. Its schedule required that the team start underground with the foundation work – during one of the wettest winters in more than a century.

Data Center Supplier Champion

Lee Kestler, Aligned and AWS Lead NVTC Data Center Award Winners 4Verity Commercial is a multidisciplinary firm based in Reston, Va. that approaches the commercial real estate industry in three ways: development and construction services, brokerage and investment sales.In 2019 Verity performed project management services for 26 CAPEX projects for existing data center facilities in Ashburn, including projects for RagingWire and Vantage. Verity managed and coordinated multiple vendors and tasks including tenant fit-outs, FF&E, and various upgrades to the facility improving control panels, safety, and OHSA compliance. The company managed vendor access, install, and closeout ensuring each task was completed on-time and on-budget.

Data Center Sustainable Champion

ERICH SANCHACK, Digital Realty

ERICH SANCHACK, Digital Realty

Erich Sanchack is EVP of Operations at Digital Realty, and responsible for overseeing global portfolio operations, global construction, colocation and interconnection service implementation as well as supply chain operations. Digital Realty has a long-term goal of providing 100% renewable energy for its global portfolio. In 2019, the company signed a 50 MW solar virtual power purchase agreement (vPPA) in Northern Virginia and enrolled in a utility green tariff in Oregon, further expanding its renewable coverage. Northern Virginia is Digital Realty’s largest data center market and has been a major focus of its sustainability efforts, including use of renewable energy, implementing energy efficiency and water efficiency measures, and designing data centers to high levels of green building standards. Digital Realty operates 3.8 million square feet LEED-certified data centers in Virginia, and has contracted 160 MW of solar to support its customers in Northern Virginia since 2017.

Data Center Veterans Champion



Dan Fulcoly is General Manager of QTS Federal at QTS Data Centers where he oversees the delivery of all federal solutions. Dan is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and served for 14 years. His Active Duty service focused on leading research, development, and demonstration of cutting- edge space and directed energy technologies. Dan continues to serve as a Major in the USAF Reserve as an acquisitions officer. As a leader in QTS veterans community, Dan has spearheaded many high impact projects supporting veterans both within and outside of QTS. Dan recently led a review of QTS Human Resource policies for Reserve and Guard commitments, which was key to the company’s decision to include significant additions to QTS benefits plan to support Veterans, including more than doubling the amount of paid time available for military commitments and adding family-centric benefits to ease the burden of deployments.

Judging and Sponsors
I was honored to be one of the judges for these awards, which showcase the impressive expertise and dedication of the region’s data center sector. Our judging panel also included David Liggett (datacenterHawk), Dr. Chad Knights (Northern Virginia Community College) and James Leach (Chair, NVTC Data Center and Cloud Committee).

This year’s NVTC Data Center Awards were sponsored by CoreSite, Loudoun County Economic Development, NOVA Workforce, Google, Equinix, Amazon Web Services, Prince William County Economic Development, QTS Data Centers, Henrico County Economic Development Authority, Hunton Andrews Kurth, Facebook, Iron Mountain, Vantage Data Centers and InterGlobix Magazine.

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