Cologix recently opened its third Minneapolis data center. This one resides in the region's carrier hotel downtown called the Minnesota Technology Center, also referred to as the 511 Building. The building offers access to more than 75 network carriers in the Meet-Me-Room for existing customers and other tenants.
The first phase of the planned 28,000-square-foot “MIN3” supports 250 cabinet equivalents and is ready for customers. The second phase is prepped for a quick build-out, so it can leverage the base infrastructure in Phase I. The facility is close to receiving Tier III Certification from the Uptime Institute and Minnesota already approved it for the state’s tax incentive program.
“Minneapolis is a really good example of two of the key growth trends—content and applications—moving closer to the edge, and enterprises outsourcing what was once in-sourced data centers,” said Cologix COO Graham Williams. “Legacy data centers are coming to end-of-life, and now they’re looking at different options. Historically, the options were Chicago, New York or build it yourself.”
While there is a great deal of supply in the greater Minneapolis market, Williams said the company views the product as fundamentally different. “We’re downtown players,” he said. “We built in the carrier hotel and it’s a different proposition to an enterprise than out in the suburbs.”
The enterprise appeal is predominantly location; customers want to be close to servers, whereas the suburbs require long drives in an area prone to big snowstorms. The connectivity appeals to content and cloud providers as well, though the ability for enterprises to future-proof infrastructure also comes to play.
“Once you put your servers somewhere, it’s challenging to move,” said Williams. “So they’re looking for locations with low switching costs. They don’t know which of their apps will live in the cloud, so the answer or antidote is choice.”
2N UPS and generator infrastructure as well as N+1 cooling infrastructure support the site. The flexibility in the design—integrated in part by Parallel Technologies—means it can also accommodate high-density applications.
The 511 Building is a 270,000 square foot building adjacent to the Metrodome. Anything north of Chicago flows through it, said Williams, adding that the location has attracted a lot of cloud and media companies in the last five or so years.
The Minnesota Vikings football team once put the building in jeopardy by wanting to tear it down for a new stadium. However, its importance to the area’s business culture prevented that from happening.
This newest Minneapolis site brings the number of Cologix data centers to 21, with a total footprint spanning more than 500,000 square feet.
Minnesota has been home to an increasing amount of data center build activity and acts as a network aggregation point for the upper Midwest. The state has some friendly incentives to keep data center growth momentum going.
In order to qualify for an exemption from sales tax on IT gear, cooling and power equipment, energy use and software for 20 years, a facility must contain 25,000 square feet or more and owners or tenants need to be committed to investing $30 million in the first four years.
"We’re seeing our customers light up when we tell them we’re approved," said Williams. "Any equipment we put into the data center, you get the same tax rebate. It starts to add up. There's more interest than I initially though it would have."
Minnesota’s data center market has been burgeoning over the past few years. Players besides Cologix include Compass (also qualified for tax exemption and leases to CenturyLink), Stream Data Centers, ViaWest, DataBank, and its planned 20-megawatt data center; Digital Realty, OneNeck IT, and Zayo’s zColo.
Cologix said that Minneapolis is a textbook example of content and cloud providers serving traffic closer to the Internet’s new edge. The local exchange point, referred to as The Midwest Internet Cooperative Exchange (MICE) has grown 14-fold in the past year.