Data center developer Cologix has broken ground on a large data center campus in Northern Virginia, commencing construction on a planned 1 million square foot campus in the heart of “Data Center Alley” in Ashburn.
The new Ashburn campus is on the former site of the Christian Fellowship Church on Beaumeade Circle, and sits next to the world’s largest Internet intersection, adjacent to campuses for Equinix, Digital Realty and Amazon Web Services. Cologix bought the land in 2018, but has been waiting for an opportune moment to begin the project, which is key component in the company’s strategic shift to larger hyperscale campuses.
Cologix has been known for its focus on interconnection services in regional markets, and says the Ashburn project kicks off a “major shift” to building hyperscale edge data centers, building upon its initial large-footprint campuses in Montreal.
“As we look at the next 10 years, we know the data center annex models of the past will not deliver enough capacity along with ultra-low latency at the right price point to support cloud provider requirements and explosive demand,” said Bill Fathers, the Chairman and CEO of Cologix. “In Ashburn, we are able to support hyperscale growth as well as deep connectivity with our interconnection hub, providing a high performance, cost-effective alternative for cloud service providers and carriers along with a rich ecosystem.”
Cologix says its two-story Ashburn data center will support 120 megawatts of data center capacity. The company has historically featured data centers in the 2 MW to 10 MW range, but acquired hyperscale specialist COLO-D in late 2018 to deploy capacity at larger scale. The campus will span 1 million square feet and 16 data halls, with the first phase targeted for 350,000 square feet and six data halls.
When it comes to hyperscale, there’s no market like Northern Virginia. As the primary on-ramp for major cloud computing platforms, Northern Virginia is experiencing powerful growth, as the leading data center REITs and colocation providers race to provide capacity for fast-growing cloud service providers and the digital businesses that seek to connect to these clouds.
The Ashburn campus will be connected to the Cologix campus in the growing cloud hub near Columbus, Ohio by a new fiber route from Zayo Networks. Interconnection specialist DE-CIX said it will have a presence in the new Cologix building to provide peering and cloud on-ramps for customers.
“Cologix’s new peering hub in the Ashburn market will be critical to meet the growing demands of edge cloud traffic,” said Steve Smith, CEO of Zayo. “Coupled with Zayo’s unique, low latency long-haul network footprint that includes our new route from Columbus to Ashburn, this digital infrastructure will drive the next evolution in carrier and cloud connectivity.”
Strong Demand in Northern Virginia
Data center developers are scrambling to add capacity, as this year’s record leasing activity has consumed much of the available supply of server space. Ashburn is among the markets seeing a boom in construction, including at least 26 construction projects to deliver data center inventory for cloud platforms and video service providers.
“We have seen exponential demand for connectivity to clouds and networks to support digital transformations in 2020 with all signals pointing to a continued upward trajectory in 2021 and beyond,” said Buddy Rizer, the Executive Director of Economic Development for Loudoun County.
Fathers said the Cologix Ashburn project reinforces the importance of major Internet intersections and the proximity to cloud platforms. Even as edge computing grabs headlines and buzz, the core of the network is growing at incredible rates.
“To accommodate massive volumes of new applications and data, we reimagined how to deploy workloads as close as possible to the edge of networks,” said Fathers. “Deploying vast clusters of servers at the very network edge rather than remote locations improves performance and lowers costs.”
The pending entry into Ashburn is illustrates how owner Stonepeak Infrastructure provides Cologix with the financial resources to compete on a new level. Stonepeak is an investor with experience with energy and telecom assets, and has positioned Cologix to benefit from the convergence of wireless infrastructure and data centers with the impending arrival of 5G connectivity and low-latency edge computing.
Cologix has data centers in Dallas, Northern New Jersey, Minneapolis, Jacksonville and Lakeland, Fla. and Columbus, Ohio in the U.S. and Canadian sites in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.