Fortune: The ‘Great Planting’ of Server Farms

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Fortune has a substantial article on data center development, which focuses in large part on Equinix and its search for new sites. Much of the “big picture” background will be familiar to regular readers of this site, but the article offers an interesting window into the site location process and the challenges facing providers who are eager to expand. The story has a nice turn of phrase to describe the boom. “The Great Planting of these server farms has only begun,” writes Fortune’s Stephanie Mehta.

Mehta accompanied Equinix chief business officer Margie Backaus on a site inspection in Secaucus, N.J., part of the company’s search for a North Jersey data center site. An excerpt:

More troubling to (Backaus) than the Superfund-site vibe is the amount of time it would take to construct a new building and get it up and running. “I have to wait two years till it’s done?” she says, surveying the detritus. “I’m out.” … Competition for real estate, even ugly scraps of land such as the Secaucus acreage, is so fierce that Equinix’s brokers began cold-calling landlords in northern Jersey when it became apparent the company would need to expand in the New York area.

Ugly? Secaucus? Okay, even we Jersey natives can’t deny the limited visual appeal of some potential data center neighborhoods.


The flurry of recent articles about the rapid expansion of data center infrastructure is good in that it raises the industry’s profile and underscores the vital role these facilities play.

The publicity may also impact the cost of expansion. If you’re a North Jersey landlord and you read the Fortune story, will it influence your negotiating strategy when a data center company comes calling? When suitable sites are scarce and the client is in a hurry, the landlord/seller is in a stronger position, and is likely to use that knowledge to try and craft more favorable terms.

The speed-to-market issue introduced lots of costs into the equation during the initial “Field of Dreams” buildout (remember “Build it and they will come?”). It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out, particularly with many new players seeking entry to the data center market.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.