Yesterday was a busy day, and I didn’t get a chance to blog about Equinix’ third-quarter earnings. The numbers and projections were solid and roughly in line with expectations. Beyond the dollars and sense, Equinix included some interesting metrics on its data center occupancy:
Based on a total cabinet capacity of approximately 30,900, the number of cabinets billing at the end of the quarter was approximately 16,200, or 52%, up from approximately 15,400 the previous quarter. On a weighted average basis, the number of cabinets billing was approximately 16,200 representing a utilization rate of 52%.
Equinix has a little more than half its cabinets filled, and yet is embarking on a huge expansion. What gives?
There are two trends at work here. Occupancy is almost certainly much higher than 52% in the markets where Equinix is expanding: Chicago, New York and Northern Virginia. Demand is very strong in these three areas, and Equinix isn’t alone in believing that the demand in these markets can support a substantial amount of additional square footage.
The other variable in the occupancy rate is cooling. A number of data center operators with high-density blade installations are spacing out their cabinets to have more flexibility in managing air flow and heat. Global Netoptex has described using this approach to cool a small group of cabinets with unusuallu high power loads.
This creative use of space has had an effect on space utilization in terms of cabinets to square footage, with 70 to 80 percent capacity now representing the upper limit for many of these data centers.