Data Centers: Aiming For The Leading Edge

The need to be near end-users will drive an uptick in the expansion of smaller satellite markets for data centers, known in the trade as “edge" markets. Foreign investment in the data center sector also will surge.

By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2018 Issue

The U.S. and Canada data center markets boasted 363.5 MW of positive net absorption in 2017, according to JLL’s 2018 Data Center Outlook, the most comprehensive analysis of the state of the industry. Although U.S. and Canadian absorption was down 8.6 percent over a record-shattering 2016, the fact that absorption stayed relatively steady amid key shifts and industry shakeups points to the overall strength of the sector.

The JLL report identified five trends to watch this year:

  • Industry M&A is here to stay. There were 48 deals totaling nearly $20 billion in 2017—nearly exceeding the total 2015 and 2016 volumes combined. The trend will remain for the next several years as players continue to expand scale, services and expertise.
  • Foreign interest in the U.S. will pick up speed. Heading into 2018, foreign data center companies’ interest and action in entering the U.S. data center market will accelerate as international enterprises and providers look to build a footprint for U.S. customers.
  • “Gateway to the cloud” and the rise of add-on services. As the data center industry continues to mature, enterprises will consistently seek out add-on services and outsource data center expertise as hybrid models become the norm in 2018 and beyond.
  • Growth of “edge” markets. The’ growing need of data players to be near end-users will drive an uptick in growth in smaller satellite markets. The increasing importance of “edge” markets will begin to play a larger role in data center strategies.
  • The growing complexity of user requirements and solutions. Data centers have become exponentially more complex in recent years, that’s no surprise. Yet this applies to every facet of the business: facilities, hardware, user requirements and solutions. Expect a jump in the industry’s need for remote monitoring, cloud-based management and customized deliverables.


Across Florida, data center operators are taking advantage of the state’s high-tech talent, pro-business climate and connectivity. Last year, Florida became one of just a few states that exempt the sales and use tax on electricity. It also has exemptions from sales and use tax on data center property, including but not limited to construction materials, component parts, servers and installations. The tax policy is meant to attract large power users that make a minimum capital investment of $150 million and have a critical IT load of 15 MW or more.

data centers
(Image: Enterprise Florida)

Florida ranks #4 in the nation with more than 245 data centers. Thanks to its unique location, South Florida is home to a large number of centers. Miami is home to one of the world’s largest Internet exchange points and serves as a major communications gateway to commercial centers in Latin America, the Northeastern U.S. and Europe. The city is ranked one of the top-five most connected in the world and has the most submarine fiber landing points in the continental U.S.

One of the largest data centers in the nation, the Network Access Point (NAP) of the Americas in Miami, is the biggest network gateway between the U.S. and Latin America. NAP is a six-story, 750,000-square-foot data center and Internet exchange point. Owned by Equinix, the facility is home to 160 network carriers and is a pathway for data traffic from the Caribbean and Latin America to nearly 150 countries.

data centers
(Image: Enterprise Florida)

In addition to its unique geographic position, Florida’s tech infrastructure makes it an appealing location. The state has the third-most fiber miles in the country with 61,000+ total fiber miles and the third-most fiber lit buildings with more than 47,000 structures.

Powering those structures is another of the state’s strengths—its utility partners. Utility companies across Florida have invested billions to improve reliability for their customers. Last summer, those investments paid off during Hurricane Irma.

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is the largest electric utility in the state and third-largest in the nation, serving an estimated 10 million people. FPL has invested more than $2 billion since 2006 to strengthen its grid, helping to prevent 600,000+ outages.

That industry-leading preparedness allowed FPL to restore power to more than 4.4 million customers in all 35 of its service counties just 10 days after the storm.

Along with FPL, Business Facilities named Duke Energy among its top economic development utilities last year. The company has invested more than $5 billion since 2004 maintaining and strengthening its power delivery systems in the Southeast.

One week after the storm, more than 99 percent of Irma-related outages were restored in more than 20 of Duke’s service counties.

In the Tampa region, the storm caused more power outages than any other in Tampa Energy’s (TECO) history. More than half of their customers were impacted. Yet seven days later, the company had restored power to nearly all customers who were able to receive it.

Gulf Power also played an integral role in returning power to the state. After restoring power to more than 10,000 of its own customers, Gulf Power crews traveled to other parts of Florida and the Southeast to assist.

In January 2018, The Edison Electric Institute presented Gulf Power with its Emergency Assistance Award for their power restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma.

Thanks to the state’s tax climate, resilient infrastructure and support from partners, data center operators are locating and expanding in Florida.

  • Cologix owns and operates two data centers in Jacksonville. The area is gaining importance globally with multiple subsea cables landing in Jacksonville directly from Central and South America. The company also operates a center in Lakeland.
  • CenturyLink owns more than 60 data centers worldwide, with several in the state. The company recently purchased Level 3 Communications and its data centers, expanding their Florida portfolio.
  • In September 2017, 365 Data Centers acquired This agreement added Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale facilities to their existing operations in Tampa.

Florida is the place where technology, creativity and exploration converge. The state is home to more than 30,000 high-tech companies with more than 237,000 professionals working in the state’s tech industry. And when you consider 28,000 new STEM graduates enter the state’s workforce every year, it’s easy to see that Florida is ready for the future. For more information on growing your business in Florida, visit


Facebook will create at least 100 full-time jobs and invest $750 million in a new data center in Stanton Springs, GA over the next five years. New jobs will include positions in engineering and management, as well as opportunities for data center technicians. The new facility will be Facebook’s ninth data center in the U.S.

“As a company, Facebook is committed to creating positive impact at the local level—that means hiring, partnering and investing locally,” said Rachel Peterson, VP of Data Center Strategy at Facebook. “We are thrilled to be making Georgia our new home and look forward to a long and strong partnership with the state, Newton County and our new community.”

Facebook will construct two buildings that will occupy a total 970,000 square feet. The buildings will be fully operational in 2020.

“Georgia’s business-friendly climate and world-class technological infrastructure continue to attract innovative companies like Facebook,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “It is fitting that the No. 1 company in the world in terms of active users has chosen the No. 1 state for business for this project. We appreciate Facebook’s leadership for recognizing Georgia as a state that serves not only as a major hub for general business, but also as a place where tech firms can be successful in the future. This project represents a significant investment and will create meaningful opportunities for the surrounding community. We welcome Facebook to Georgia and look forward to the growth of this partnership.”

“We couldn’t be happier to have such an outstanding company like Facebook as one of our community corporate partners,” said Shane Short, executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County. “This is just the beginning of a long-term partnership that will continue to grow stronger. We value our partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), Commissioner Pat Wilson, and his professional team, especially EJane Caraway. We are appreciative that they helped us with this project.”

Facebook’s data centers are among the most advanced, energy-efficient facilities in the world. The Newton Data Center will be powered by 100 percent clean and renewable energy and cooled using outdoor air instead of energy-intensive air conditioners. The facility also will house Facebook’s hyper-efficient hardware, which powers apps and other services.

“I am excited for Facebook and their new data center to join an industry ecosystem here that is known for being a hub of technological innovation,” said Metro Atlanta Chamber President and CEO Hala Moddelmog. “Facebook will be able to take advantage of our skilled engineering workforce and leading telecommunications infrastructure.”

GDEcD Director of Life Sciences and Corporate Solutions EJane Caraway represented the Global Commerce Division in partnership with the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties, Walton EMC, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia Power and other state and local agencies.

“When a world leader in technology such as Facebook chooses to locate an essential part of its operations in Georgia, it solidifies what we already know: that we are a prime and safe location for data centers and information technology,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “We look forward to welcoming Facebook as a corporate citizen, and are excited about the impact they will have in Newton County. Congratulations to all partners who helped bring this project to fruition.”