Canada has been one of the most active regions for data center growth, as well as data center consolidation. Montreal-based eStruxture is a significant player in both trends, as seen in last week’s acquisition of eight Canadian data centers operated by Aptum Technologies, including facilities developed by Peer 1 and Cogeco.
With the deal, eStruxture enters the Toronto market, giving it a presence in Canada’s four leading data center destinations – Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. eStruxture now has more than 100 megawatts of capacity in 14 data centers across the country.
“This acquisition allows us to significantly scale our platform, further expand our reach and customer base in the Vancouver and Montreal areas, and enter the Toronto market in a meaningful way,” said Todd Coleman, President and CEO of eStruxture.
The Aptum deal is the fifth acquisition for eStruxture. In addition to expanding its footprint, eStruxture will acquire 600 customers, giving it nearly 1,400.
Focusing on Canadian Colocation
eStruxture was founded in 2017 by Coleman, who was previously a co-founder of Cologix, which specialized in retail colo and interconnections in Canada and second-tier markets in the U.S. eStruxture’s financial backers include real estate development firm Canderel, and investors Fengate Asset Management and CDPQ. With his new company, Coleman sought to craft a slightly different take.
“We’ve evolved the model,” said Coleman. “My thesis around eStruxture was to create significant scale enterprise-class data centers in suburban markets with access to significant amounts of power. Our focus is retail colocation. That has been our bread and butter.”
Most of eStruxture’s customers have requirements of up to 750 kilowatts, and the company has focused on supporting higher rack densities of 10 to 15 kilowatts per rack and beyond. “Our biggest differentiator has been our ability to engineer for higher power densities,” said Coleman.
That has helped eStruxture build a growing business supporting visual effects studios and game developers, who have become key customer segments in both Montreal and Vancouver. Both industries lean heavily on compute-intensive applications, often leveraging GPUs.
“There’s more film production going on in Vancouver than Hollywood,” Coleman said, who said these customers also appreciate the affordable green power and cloud connectivity in Montreal.
After the initial focus on suburban capacity, eStruxture has acquired a presence in several connectivity hubs in Montreal and the Aptum deal added facilities in two more key carrier hotels – 151 Front Street in Toronto and 55 West Hastings in Vancouver. This will add over two hundred new network providers to eStruxture’s ecosystem including access to the Toronto Internet Exchange (TorIX) and the Vancouver Internet Exchange (VANIX). Aptum will continue as one of eStruxture’s largest customers in Canada.
Aptum was formed in 2019 by data center investor Digital Colony, part of the Colony Capital universe of digital infrastructure assets, and consisted of assets owned by Cogeco Peer 1.
eStruxture has grown through acquisitions, but is also building a greenfield data center in the Montreal market in a former printing facility for The Montreal Gazette. Coleman says the company’s growth has been opportunistic and attuned to the market opportunities.
“We didn’t set up eStruxture to be an acquisition vehicle,” said Coleman. “I think we’ve largely run our course from an acquisition perspective, and there will be more greenfield and brownfield development in our future.”
Amid an influx of competition from the U.S., Coleman sees an opportunity to build a Canadian colocation powerhouse, focusing on the retail market.
“Our strategy is focused 100 percent on Canada,” said Coleman. “Our knowledge base is local, with local headquarters and a local touch. We have many Canadians looking at doing business with us because we’re Canadian, especially in government.”
An Evolving Canadian Competitive Landscape
Over the last two years, U.S. data center developers have been actively expanding into the Canadian market, with Vantage Data Centers and Compass Datacenters acquiring local providers in the Montreal market, while Equinix acquired a platform of 14 sites from Bell Canada.
“The competitive landscape is changing every single day,” said Coleman. “The new money in the Montreal market is almost entirely focused on the hyperscale market and customer relationships.”
Coleman believes that leaves plenty of opportunity in retail colocation, where incumbents Cologix and eStruxture are being joined by global heavyweight Equinix, which has long been a player in Toronto but has expended its reach with the BCE portfolio.
As in the U.S., the Canadian data center landscape features markets with different characteristics. Montreal has become a destination for cloud companies seeking cheap hydroelectric power, while Vancouver has a growing ecosystem of visual effects houses. Toronto is the nation’s financial capital, and home to the largest concentration of enterprise IT business. Although power is more expensive, it is an essential market for a provider with pan-Canada ambitions, just as a presence in Greater New York matters for U.S. providers.
Aptum’s portfolio included five data centers in the Toronto market, including 151 Front Street, which is Canada’s largest carrier hotel.
“We have been looking more intently for an opportunity to enter the Toronto market,” said Coleman.