AWS cloud pavilion cebit 2016 Sean Gallup/Getty Images
AWS cloud pavilion at the 2016 CeBIT digital technology trade fair in Hanover

Half a Million Square Feet of Amazon Data Center Space Under Construction in Virginia

Developer COPT hopes to build 2 million square feet more in the region, also for AWS

Amazon Web Services commands more than one-third of the cloud infrastructure services market, which judging by the latest round of quarterly earnings reports continues to grow at a breakneck pace. Supporting that growth requires a lot of data center space, which Amazon’s cloud business is adding hundreds of thousands of square feet at a time.

Just in Northern Virginia – one of the world’s largest data center markets and already home to the largest Amazon data center cluster – a developer has close to half a million square feet of new data center space under construction for Amazon. The cloud giant already leases 1.9 million square feet of operational data center space in the region from Corporate Office Properties Trust, the developer, according to a recent COPT regulatory filing.

Northern Virginia is the most desirable data center location in North America. Particularly in recent years, data center providers in the market have been barely able to keep up with demand there, coming primarily from large cloud infrastructure providers and other companies that run hyper-scale cloud platforms. It’s desirable because of relatively low energy rates and data center-friendly local officials but also, and primarily, because of the sheer volume of data centers and networks already there – connectivity options that put companies with presence in Northern Virginia at an advantage.

The document doesn’t name Amazon, referring only to “an existing tenant.” But according to multiple industry sources, the tenant is Amazon, which uses COPT as its data center builder and landlord in Northern Virginia, leasing from it powered-shell buildings it fits out with data center infrastructure on its own.

Amazon’s cloud business grew 42 percent year over year in the third quarter; Microsoft reported a 90 percent revenue gain for Azure and 42 percent for Office 365 – both cloud businesses; Google said its cloud unit was the largest contributing factor in the 40 percent revenue increase for its “Other Revenue” reporting category.

AWS currently has six Availability Zones in Northern Virginia – double or triple the amount of zones it has in other regions. Each zone is hosted in a dedicated data center. The company has cloud data centers in 16 regions around the world and has new facilities in the works in five more: Bahrain, China, France, Hong Kong, and Sweden.

It also has a new region dedicated to cloud services for the US government coming up on the US East Coast – most likely also in Northern Virginia. Its government clients that cannot share data center facilities with public-sector organizations have to date been served out of two data centers in Oregon.

The aforementioned 447,000 square feet of data center space is only what COPT has under construction for Amazon now. The developer also has plans for an additional 11 construction projects it expects to deliver over the next two years, “meant to expand” its relationship with the same tenant.

The developer hopes to lease all 11 (close to 2 million square feet total) to Amazon, which so far has only pre-leased one of them – a 150,000-square foot facility expected to be delivered in October 2018, according to the filing, first spotted by Data Center Frontier.

COPT began the process of entitling land for a large new data center campus in the region earlier this year, Data Center Knowledge reported in March.

Other data center providers currently building in Northern Virginia include CloudHQ, Iron Mountain, CoreSite, Vantage, RagingWire, QTS, CyrusOne, Digital Realty, and Digital Realty’s recently acquired subsidiary DuPont Fabros.

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