It looks like Amazon Web Services is continuing its relentless expansion in Northern Virginia. The cloud computing titan’s primary landlord in the region, Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), is building two new buildings in Ashburn that are fully leased to an unnamed “investment grade Fortune 500 company.”
The property, known as ParagonPark, is an undeveloped parcel along Route 28, about a mile from the newest cloud campus for Amazon Web Services (AWS). Documents filed with Loudoun County indicate the site will house two data centers, while COPT said both structures will be 148,600 square feet – the same size as multiple data centers it has built for AWS in Northern Virginia.
COPT has leased nearly 1.3 million square feet of data center space in Northern Virginia to Amazon Web Services over the past three years, according to SEC filings. The company built three data centers in Ashburn last year, and Amazon is believed to be the lead tenant.
Extending Data Center Alley
The new project will rise on a previously undeveloped site, aligning with Loudoun County’s plans to extend data center development to new properties.
The county economic development team has been identifying new sites in response to a data center construction boom in “Data Center Alley,” a section of Ashburn that is the meeting point for many major networks.
ParagonPark has been considered for development for some time. The site has excellent access to power and fiber and could tap the reclaimed water loop from the nearby Loudoun Water facility, a factor for data centers that use water in their cooling systems. The 141-acre ParagonPark site includes a branch of the Broad Run creek.
COPT, which bought 25 acres within the site, said it expects to deliver one building in the fourth quarter of 2017, and the second building in the first quarter of 2018.
Loudoun County has been encouraging development along the Route 28 corridor. A large CyrusOne data center is nearing completion just south of the ParagonPark site.
A Key Cloud Battleground
Northern Virginia is the largest market for data center space in the U.S., home to 4.6 million square feet (SF) of commissioned data center space, representing 616 megawatts (MW) of commissioned power, according to market research from datacenterHawk.
Northern Virginia is one of the primary battlegrounds in the cloud war. It’s of major strategic importance to Amazon Web Services (AWS), whose Amazon US East region spans more than 25 data centers across Loudoun and Prince William counties.
If the COPT tenant at ParagonPark is Amazon, the new capacity will support the rapid growth of Amazon Web Services’ lucrative cloud operation, which faces growing competition from Microsoft, Google and Oracle. The three tech titans are also building and leasing data centers as they race to gain ground on Amazon.
Google recently announced its first cloud region in Northern Virginia, while Microsoft has been leasing large chunks of turn-key (wholesale) data center space.
Amazon’s cloud computing operation may soon have more than 1 gigawatt of data center capacity supporting its huge US-East data center cluster, according to a Greenpeace analysis of the company’s energy use.
AWS had 500 megawatts of capacity in a 2015 analysis, but has since received permission for generators to support another 560 megawatts of data center capacity, Greenpeace estimates. Some of those projects are still in the planning and construction phase. But when they are completed, the new capacity would bring Amazon’s total data center energy footprint in Northern Virginia to 1.06 gigawatts.
COPT is a real estate investment trust that is a leading landlord for the U.S. government and defense contractors. The company is known for leasing specialized space for national security tenants, but has quietly become one of the largest providers of cloud computing real estate.
In its work with Amazon, COPT builds out powered shells: undeveloped space with the power and fiber connectivity already in place. Amazon then fills the building with its custom-built data center infrastructure. Amazon fine-tunes its custom servers, storage and networking gear to get the best bang for its buck, offering greater control over both performance and cost.