DataBank Grows Beyond its Dallas Digital Fortress

Power Profile

DataBank also has an unusually strong power story. On the reliability front, South Akard resides on an extremely resilient portion of the Dallas power grid known as the “700 network,” according to Jerry Blair, co-founder and VP of Sales ar DataBank. .

“It’s a pretty unique story,” said Blair. “It’s the highest priority grid in the (Dallas) metroplex. It really makes it a unique building. ONCOR (the local utility) has never lost power to the building in the 10 years since we bought it. We have never had to run on generator due to a utility loss.”

That includes February of 2011, when many of the primary data center buildings in Dallas went to generator power to ride out a series of rolling brownouts implemented by ONCOR after frozen pipes from unusually cold weather shut down generating capacity of power plants.

Databank also has an unusual story on power capacity – namely that it has more power than space. The building currently uses just 4 megawatts of the 15 megawatts it has available, even though 85 percent of the floor space in buildings is filled. That means that DataBank can help tenants expand their power by increasing server density within their existing footprint.

“We spend a lot of time and energy working on containment technology,” said Moore, who said the company recently consolidated one customer’s gear in the oldest section of the building, boosting the tenant’s average rack density from 2kW a rack to 8kW.

Targeting Secondary Markets

The Avista investment and the sale-leaseback deal provided capital for DataBank to pursue its growth strategy. “It’s been a very good partnership with Avista,” said Blair. “They’ve been able to bring on some great talent.”

The first step was to secure additional space in Dallas, as the available footprint at South Akard is now limited. Digital Realty was the right partner for its expansion, but the DataBank team also wanted to continue to use its resilient design as a differentiator – thus the decision to lease powered shell space and build out its own data center environment, rather than leasing turn-key wholesale suites from Digital. The Richardson (North Dallas) property opened last less month, sporting a 2N power design. The facility features color-coded power infrastructure and cabling to visually highlight the redundancy of its electrical infrastructure.

Having established itself in a competitive Tier I city, DataBank is now looking to export its model to other markets. The VeriSpace acquisition is an example.

“What we want to do is go to underserved markets,” said Moore. “That’s where the supply and demand metrics are out of balance. What we bought (in St. Paul) is a beachhead.”

The vault back at South Akard can’t be duplicated in other markets. But DataBank believes that by engineering for bank-level security and resiliency, it can can bring the vault mindset to new markets.

Continue and see a photo tour of DataBank’s facilities.

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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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