The 'Have It Your Way' Data Center

With its new Chicago data center project, developer Ascent Corp. has adopted a flexible approach designed to accommodate a variety of customer requirements within a single multi-tenant facility.

A rendering of the Ascent Corp. CH2 data center, showing different types of power and cooling infrastructure in series of dedicated customer equipment yards ringing the exterior of the facility.

A rendering of the Ascent Corp. CH2 data center, with dedicated customer equipment yards using different cooling infrastructure ringing the exterior of the facility.

Data center users have lots of design choices. Turn-key space or powered shell? Raised floor or slab? Chilled water or air-side economization? Most users decide on a set of desired design characteristics and search for data centers or providers that can meet all their criteria.

In its new Chicago data center project, developer Ascent Corp. has adopted a flexible approach designed to accommodate a variety of customer requirements within a single multi-tenant facility. It's an approach to data center design that that echoes the old Burger King slogan: "Have it Your Way."

"We think that users are looking for a lot more choices in the ability to customize solutions," said Phil Horstmann, the CEO of Ascent, who calls the approach Dynamic Data Center Suites.

Ascent's CH2 site is near the huge facility the company recently built for Microsoft Corp., and will be able to leverage the extraordinary power and fiber infrastructure supporting that project. CH2 will have 50 megawatts of power capacity and its own substation. 

Once the power and telecom infrastructure are in place, Ascent will subdivide the facility according to customer requirements. "We'll move the demising walls where they need to be, and then wall off the equipment yard," said Horstmann. "The customer space and equipment yard become plug-and-play."

Ascent can deliver a powered shell for companies who want to build out their own facility, or completed data center space for customers seeking turn-key solutions. With the turn-key space, each customer can select the design and infrastructure they desire.

As a result, one company's raised floor space may reside next to another data center with its equipment on slab, with each customer using dedicated mechanical and electrical infrastructure and their own equipment yard.

This kind of flexibility could be important in Chicago, a composite market in which data center tenant profiles are spread across a range of industries. That includes financial tenants seeking low-latency trading faciltiies, web hosting companies, Fortune 500 enterprise customers, and Internet companies.

"We still see a high degreee of demand for this market," said Horstmann. "Some of the other data center providers have inventory in this market. But it's a great peering city, and there's a lot of interest from enterprise, financial and hosting customers."

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