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DataBank Project is Latest Win for Atlanta Data Center Market

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The data center market in Atlanta is having a big year, with a burst of expansions by some of the industry’s largest players. The latest of these is DataBank, which today announced plans to partner with the Georgia Tech on a new data center in downtown Atlanta. The 94,000 square foot building will focus on high performance computing (HPC) and offer high-speed connectivity to research and education sites across the south.

DataBank isn’t the only major player expanding in Atlanta. Switch and CyrusOne are each preparing huge campuses in the suburbs, while, Digital Realty is expanding downtown. There’s also QTS Data Centers, the major incumbent player in the Atlanta market, which has reportedly purchased land to expand its huge downtown Atlanta data center campus. The boom in Atlanta is a part of a broader growth trend for the Southeast United States, where large cloud builders and and retail colocation players are adding capacity.

A High Density Solution for HPC

DataBank is the retail colocation business of Digital Bridge, which has been building a major presence in the data center industry over the past year. Since acquiring DataBank in July 2016, the company has bought up C7 Data Centers and Vantage Data Centers, along with two facilities from 365 Data Centers.

The new High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) in Atlanta will be part of Portman Holdings’ CODA development, a 645,000 square foot mixed-use complex currently under construction in Georgia Tech’s Technology Square. Georgia Tech will be the main tenant under a long-term lease for both the data center as well as the adjoining office tower. The HPCC will include a presence for Southern Crossroads, which provides peering and connectivity to research and education sites, including access to the LambaRail and Internet2 backbones.

“Technology Square represents a significant investment by Georgia Tech, the City of Atlanta, and the State of Georgia to create and advance a vibrant technology ecosystem around Georgia Tech,” said Steven Swant, Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance. “The HPCC data center is at the core of that effort.”

To data center will be designed to deliver power densities of up to 45kW per cabinet, consistent with the high-density workloads seen in the HPC sector. The data center industry has been gradually boosting its adoption of high-density workloads and advanced cooling techniques to support them. One factor in this has been the emergence of GPU-driven computing to support interest in artificial intelligence workloads.

DataBank said the project, which will be its ATL1 data center, is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2017. DataBank is collaborating on the development of ATL1 with Next Tier HD, a privately held real estate development group headquartered in New York, NY who has been involved with this project since 2015.

“This project is a two-fold win for us,” said Raul Martynek, CEO of DataBank. “Not only will we be the backbone support for Georgia Tech’s leading-edge research activities, we also gain entry into an attractive technology-driven market. Atlanta is a great fit for DataBank given its position as a hub for regional interconnection and peering and the large base of enterprise companies looking for the high-quality data center space and services.”

DataBank is collaborating on the development of ATL1 with Next Tier HD, a privately held real estate development group headquartered in New York, NY which has been involved with this project since 2015. Next Tier is headed by industry veteran Jim Coakley, who has developed projects for T-Rex Capital and Power Loft.

Flurry of New Projects for Atlanta

DataBank’s project with Georgia Tech is the latest in a flurry of expansion announcements. Here’s a look at the data center activity in Atlanta in recent months:

  • Switch has announced plans to invest $2.5 billion to build more than 1 million square feet of data center space on a new campus near Atlanta called The Keep. The Switch project in Douglas County is projected to have two campus locations as the ecosystem grows.
  • CyrusOne is scouting locations for a 1 million square foot data center in the Atlanta area, according to local media reports. The company has cited expansion in the Southeast as one of its strategic priorities.
  • Digital Realty, the world’s largest data center landlord, has expanded its presence downtown by adding 18,000 square feet of raised-floor colocation space in 250 Williams, a multi-tenant data center facility in downtown Atlanta.
  • Several months after Digital Realty announced its expansion in the building, 250 Williams was acquired by data center REIT Carter Validus for $166 million. Carter Validus also owns 180 Preachtree, another data center hub in downtown Atlanta.
  • Ascent Corpentered the Atlanta market this spring through a sale/leaseback deal with an enterprise tenant. The ATL1 facility is a 185,000 square foot building on a 38-acre secure site in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta. A tenant occupies two data halls, but there is up to 8 MW of server-ready space, with the ability to add another 75,000 square feet of capacity if needed.
  • In May, Lincoln Rackhouse said that it was acquiring a data center in the Atlanta market through another sale/leaseback agreement with a corporate tenant.
  • Colocation provider Green House Data continued to build its national footprint with the April 27 acquisition of Cirracore, an Atlanta-based infrastructure provider of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and hybrid cloud products. The deal brings Green House Data a strong presence in the Southeast, including a presence inside two Equinix facilities in Atlanta.

QTS Data Centers hasn’t officially announced expansion plans in Greater Atlanta, where the company maintains massive data centers in downtown as well as the suburb of Suwannee. But in May the company acquired 3.4 acres of land on Jefferson Street adjacent to its 1 million square foot Downtown Technology Center. The company is focusing on designs for hyperscale data center space,  as well as its hybrid IT offering that spans colocation, cloud and wholesale offerings.

The bustling growth in Atlanta also speaks to the rising profile of the Southeast for large-footprint data centers. The region has been the focus of recent expansions by Google and CyrusOne. With new data center projects in Tennessee and Alabama, Google is focusing a large chunk of its computing power in the Southeast, a site selection strategy that has been unique among cloud-scale operators.  CyrusOne recently moved into the Southeast with the purchase of a large Sentinel data center in Raleigh, N.C.