Photo: Renjishino/Wikimedia Commons

How Reno Became a Data Center Hub: a Timeline

With most new data center capacity gravitating toward long-established locations, such as Northern Virginia, Chicago, and Dallas, few locations in the US have emerged as new data center hubs in recent years as quickly as Reno, Nevada.

Already home to a growing Apple data center campus and a massive Switch SuperNap, hosting eBay as the anchor tenant, Reno was recently selected by Google as the place where one of the cloud giant’s future data center campuses will go up.

Cheap real estate, low taxes, a business-friendly regulatory environment, access to renewable energy, and proximity to Silicon Valley have all contributed to Reno’s rise as one of the fastest-growing new nerve centers of the cloud.

Here’s a timeline of its rise:

2009

A developer called Unique Infrastructure Group sets out to create what is now called the Reno Technology Park. The plan was to prepare a 2,200-acre property just outside the city for data centers and other energy-intensive, technology-oriented buildings, such as semiconductor fabrication facilities. UIC would provide access to multiple different energy sources, including utility-scale renewables.

View of the property outside of Reno now called the Reno Technology Park (Photo: Unique Infrastructure Group)

June 2012

Apple’s decision to build a data center in Reno Technology Park is made public. The company is attracted to the location by plentiful real estate, city and state tax breaks, and access to power offered by RTP. The Apple data center campus in Reno has been expanding ever since.

Access to renewable energy has been a prerequisite in the company’s data center site selection process, but, as it turned out, it was not as easy as the park’s developers had suggested it would be. Nevada is a regulated energy market, which made it difficult for the company to build its own renewable energy projects, dedicated to its data centers. In the end, Apple partnered with the local utility, NV Energy, to build its first solar farm there. Apple financed and built the project, while the utility operates it and acts as the energy provider.

Apple data center under construction in Reno Technology Park (Photo: Unique Infrastructure Group)

February 2017

Switch, the Las Vegas-based builder of massive-scale data centers that host infrastructure for some of the tech world’s biggest names, such as eBay, Amazon Web Services, Cisco, and Box, launches the first of several planned data centers on its SuperNAP campus in Reno.

Like Apple, Switch had a tough time securing renewable energy for its new campus because of the state’s regulated market. The company even sued NV Energy and the state utility regulator, claiming it had been forced to sign a bad renewable energy purchase deal with the utility.

Rendering of the first data center on Switch’s Tahoe Reno data center campus (Image: Switch)

April 2017

Google buys a 1,210-acre site near Reno. Anonymous sources tell The Wall Street Journal that the company plans to eventually build a data center on the property. Like other cloud giants, Google has been investing billions of dollars every quarter in growing data center infrastructure to support its enterprise cloud services.

Google data center in St. Ghislain, Belgium (Photo: Google)

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About the Author

San Francisco-based business and technology journalist. Editor in chief at Data Center Knowledge, covering the global data center industry.

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