The exterior of the COPT (PowerLoft) data center in Manassas, Virginia.(Photo: EvoSwitch)
Amsterdam-based colocation provider EvoSwitch is coming to the United States, and it's arriving with some customers and some serious ambition.
EvoSwitch has leased 3 megawatts of space in the COPT6 (Power Loft) data center in Manassas, Virginia, and will begin operations Jan. 1 with 27 percent of that space (known as WDC1) already sold to customers. The company's lease includes 3 data halls, each with 1 megawatt of space and capacity for about 300 cabinets of customer equipment, with future expansion options that could eventually bring EvoSwitch's presence to 100,000 square feet of space.
In recent years, most trans-Atlantic data center expansions have involved U.S. providers entering the European market. At the retail colocation level, U.S. players like Equinix, Terremark and SoftLayer have established beachheads in Europe, while Digital Realty Trust has seen aggressive growth in the wholesale market. Meanwhile, leading European data center brands like TeleCityGroup, Interxion and e-shelter have focused on their core markets in Europe.
EvoSwitch CEO Eric Boonstra says establishing a global data center footprint is a key goal for his company. "The expansion to the United States has been part of our strategy from day one," said Boonstra. "Our goal is to have major sites in multiple international markets, so the United States is important for us.
"Although this is our first international expansion, we see opportunities for international growth similar to those in Amsterdam," continued Boonstra. "Many of our customers colocate their mission-critical applications on multiple continents; by opening WDC1 we are creating new opportunities to better service these customers, as well as attract new ones. We think it's a good market, and the data center business is doing well here."
EvoSwitch operates a 100,000 square foot (9,285 square meter) climate neutral data center in Amsterdam that houses the European infrastructure for Wikipedia, among others. The company has filled five data halls of its facility and is in the process of opening a sixth hall using a modular deployment model by DataXenter, which like EvoSwitch is part of the holdings of infrastructure holding company Ocom .
Will Euro Internet Exchanges Follow?
One area where EvoSwitch believes European practices can make a difference is in networking and interconnections.
"We want to introduce the European model for connectivity and interconnections," said Boonstra. "We look forward to successfully repeating our model in the United States. This means focusing on our customers’ interconnection needs by attracting a large base of carriers and other network service providers, preferably around a strong neutral Internet Exchange partner, much like AMS-IX is to us in Amsterdam.”
Major European carrier-neutral Internet exchanges like AMS-IX in Amsterdam and DE-CIX in Frankfurt operate in a distributed model, with points of presence spread across 12 or more data centers. In the U.S., interconnection activity tends to be more centralized in particular buildings or facilities, like the Equinix interconnection campus in Ashburn, Virginia.
"Exchanges across Europe are looking to expand," said Vincent Rais, EvoSwitch's marketing manager. "There's an opportunity for us to be host of one or more of these exchanges (in Manassas). The way we foresee it, a neutral Internet exchange would want to expand across multiple sites, but they'd have to start somewhere. Usually, when an Internet exchange starts in a facility, that's where the center of activity takes place, and that facility will have the biggest benefit. But this is a process that will take years."
The 233,000 square foot Power Loft data center opened its doors in 2010, with a new design focused on energy efficiency. The two-story Power Loft data center was one of the first designs to create a “hard separation” between the server area and the mechanical equipment. It was acquired by COPT in Sept. 2010 for $115 million.
Innovative Design A Good Fit
The focus on energy efficiency was a selling point for EvoSwitch, which operates its Amsterdam facility with power generated entirely from a mix of solar, wind and biomass in its power generation. EvoSwitch also works with the Climate Neutral Group to purchase offsets for the CO2 emitted by its generators and on-site parking.
“In Europe we are leading the industry in improving energy efficiency inside the data center," said Boonstra. "We're all about green and energy efficiency. innovation is something we're keen on, so we thought it was a good fit.
"Our AMS1 facility in Amsterdam has a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score of 1.2. WDC1 is scheduled to operate with a PUE rating of 1.3. As we establish our presence there and grow, there will increasingly be opportunities to improve and strive for the best possible ratings."