Officials in Nebraska are seeking to pass a package of economic incentives to land a huge data center known only as "Project Edge," which could result in a $1.2 billion data center campus. It's the latest example of "code name" projects in which large companies seek to remain secret as they scout locations for data centers.
"It's quite an extraordinary investment," Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, who has been involved in the recruitment effort, told the Omaha World-Herald. "We're one of the finalists, and I think we have an outstanding opportunity to have this occur."
The company behind Project Edge is looking to break ground in May for a $500 million first-phase. Economic development officials in Nebraska have been aggressively pursuing data center projects in recent years, with its most notable win being as Yahoo facility in La Vista. The state has identified numerous site with the power and fiber infrastructure to support a major data center.
One of those sites in Kearny, Nebraska is rumored to be among the leading sites being considered by Project Edge.
State lawmakers are working on two bills that could sweeten the pot for the prospect with incentives on taxes and power. One bill would offer refunds on property taxes and taxes on server equipment, while the second measure would allow public power districts in Nebraska to offer discounted pricing on excess power to land a major data center project.
Few Clues About Mystery Prospect
So who is the prospect? No obvious answers emerge. The field of prospects is narrowed by the scope of the project and the the fact that three of the huge companies best known for secretive site selections - Google, Microsoft and Yahoo - already operate major data centers in the region. Google and Microsoft each have facilities in Iowa, while Yahoo has its data center in La Vista.
These companies have found that as their Internet infrastructure reaches a certain scale, operating a data center in the middle of the U.S. makes sense. What companies are on the cusp of this type of network growth?
One possible candidate is Apple, especially given its $1billion investment in its new data center in North Carolina. As we’ve noted several times previously, it’s likely that Apple will need at least one other large data center complex to provide backup capabilities for the facility in North Carolina. With $98 billion in cash, Apple has the means to fund large infrastructure projects to pursue its cloud computing ambitions.
But Apple has reportedly been scouting sites in Oregon, which suggests that it may follow the lead of Facebook and focus on placing its infrastructure on either coast - a strategy that helps with content delivery and also provides the ability to keep copies of critical data “out of region” so that a single natural disaster wouldn’t threaten the survival of the data.
So who is the mystery company behind Project Edge? Stay tuned, as we'll continue to track this story.