WashPost Profiles Ashburn ‘Data Center Alley’

The Washington Post has a story this weekend about the concentration of data centers in Ashburn, Virginia. We have written about Ashburn’s “data center alley” on many occasions, but the Post story includes some numbers that will be of interest to DCK readers.

“The county now claims about 40 centers comprising roughly 4 million square feet of space — equivalent to 22 Wal-Mart Supercenters,” the Post reports. ” Another 800,000 square feet are either planned or being built. Loudoun officials said they expect 6.5 million square feet in data centers by 2021. ‘We don’t really see any end in sight,’ said Buddy Rizer, a business development officer at Loudoun County’s economic development office.”

Ashburn is home to a former UUNet facility that was a key hub in MAE-East, the Internet’s first major interconnection point. Equinix built its first data center n Ashburn in 1998, providing a “carrier-neutral” facility where companies could gain access to Internet backbones operated by UUNet and AT&T. That first Ashburn site, known as DC1, quickly become the Web’s busiest meeting place. Equinix filled DC1 and has built four additional data centers in Ashburn spanning nearly 500,000 square feet of space.

The most recent expansions in Ashburn include projects for Sabey Data Centers and expansions by Equinix and DuPont Fabros Technology.

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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.

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  1. Daniel Golding

    "Ashburn is home to a former UUNet facility that was a key hub in MAE-East, the Internet’s first major interconnection point" That was in the WAPO article, but almost none of it is true. MAE East was at 8100 Boone in Tysons Corner, not in Ashburn or Loudoun at all. By the time of its relocation to Ashburn, it was largely deprecated. The first major interconnection point was the CIX in California. Its a mistake to conflate Equinix's success at DC1 - the Next Generation Peering Initiative- with MAE-EAST. There wasn't a clear link between the two - one was failing and the other moved in.

  2. Robert Moore

    Stan Barber's Notes http://www.academ.com/nanog/may1996/mae-east.html MAE STATUS (May 1996) MAE-EAST 70 active connections (58 from the last NANOG) (60 ISPs) 340 Mbps Gigaswith Utilization (230 at last NANOG) 75 Mbps on shared FDDI (same as last NANOG) MAE-WEST 52 active connections (36 at last NANOG) >180 Mbps [hard to measure ATM port traffic on Gigaswitch](was 90-100 Mbps in Feb) 75 Mbps on shared FDDI (was 50 Mbps at last NANOG) OC-3C between MFS and Ames (not saturated) There is plans for a second parallel link Other MAEs Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles are operational. (Paris and New York are coming. NYC is on 8th Avenue.) There are no current plans for Atlanta. Architecture Very similar to Sprint NAP. Another Gigaswitch will be added to MAE-EAST in the next couple of weeks.

  3. Robert Moore

    From several sources: By May of 1993, the National Science Foundation had written and released a solicitation to accommodate and promote the commercialization / privatization of the Internet (NSF93-52). This document mandated the creation of four Network Access Points (NAPs), which were sold via closed bid to the following providers: Owner | Name | Location Sprint | Sprint NAP / NY-NAP | Pennsauken, NJ Pacific Bell | PacBell NAP | San Francisco, CA Ameritech | AADS NAP | Chicago, IL MFS | MAE-E NAP | Vienna, VA In 1995 AOL was headquartered at 8619 Westwood Center Drive in the Tysons Corner CDP in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near the Town of Vienna. AOL was quickly running out of room in October 1996 for its network at the Fairfax County campus. In 1996, AOL moved to 22000 AOL Way in Dulles, unincorporated Loudoun County, Virginia. The move to Dulles took place in mid-1996 and provided room for future growth.

  4. Robert Moore

    According to Stan Barber's notes, the new MAE-E colocation facility at 8100 Boone in Tysons Corner was under construction in October 1996. Stan Barber's Notes (October 1996) http://www.academ.com/nanog/oct1996/mae-status.html#Notes MAE-EAST 86 connections (up from 70 at the last NANOG) 500 Mbps (up from 340 Mbps in May) Two Gigaswitches New Colocation Facility at 8100 Boone (under construction) -- There will be a Gigaswitch there that will be connected to the others. MAE-WEST 71 connections -- 440 Mbps -- Dual OC3c with a third coming. Each one can only be driven to 100Mbs.

  5. Robert Moore

    "Its a mistake to conflate Equinix’s success at DC1 – the Next Generation Peering Initiative- with MAE-EAST. There wasn’t a clear link between the two – one was failing and the other moved in." I must disagree. William B. Norton (From 1998-2008, Mr. Norton’s title was Co-Founder and Chief Technical Liaison for Equinix) "When Equinix Ashburn was constructed (1999) it had no customers and faced a formidable, well entrenched dominant Internet Exchange called MAE-East, an IX run by WorldCom since about 1994. Everyone knew of MAE-East - it was the place you had to peer on the East Coast if you wanted to be seen as a big player ISP. "By 2002, most of MAE-East customers had migrated to the Equinix Ashburn Internet Exchange." How did Equinix Beat MAE-East? http://drpeering.net/AskDrPeering/blog/articles/Ask_DrPeering/Entries/2009/5/10_How_Equinix_Beat_MAE-East___IX_Playbook_Tactics_8-11.html