NEW YORK – You might not immediately think of one of the telecom industry’s oldest and iconic skyscrapers as an edge data center for the 21st century. But Tom Brown does.
Brown is the President and CEO of DataGryd, a colocation provider that is in construction mode at 60 Hudson Street, the landmark Manhattan carrier hotel that has been on the front lines of communications since it was completed in 1930.
Originally the headquarters for Western Union, the building has been a key transfer point for the world’s information, first with telegrams delivered through pneumatic tubes, and over time rewiring for Trans-Atlantic telephone circuits, and then the Internet.
As New York begins to sort out its journey to become a smart city, Brown sees DataGryd and 60 Hudson as a key component of the transition to an economy powered by low-latency wireless connectivity.
“We believe we are an edge data center,” said Brown. “We see the fast and furious emergence of all these new technologies. Today it’s all about the experience. With the number of eyeballs in Manhattan, there’s no doubt that we’re positioned as an edge data center.”
To meet the emerging demand for urban edge data services, DataGryd recently began developing 5 megawatts of new data center capacity, which will be built out in one-megawatt data suites.
The DataGryd team is targeting opportunities created by the push to create smarter cities, using sensors and data analysis to bring intelligence to urban environments, and improve the quality of life for residents. The trend brings together the Internet of Things, BigData, artificial intelligence and edge computing to change the way we live and do business in major urban centers.
Adapting Design to Market Trends
DataGryd was founded in 2012 to provide wholesale data center space in the heart of New York, operating from vacant space on several floors at 60 Hudson, a 23-story art-deco building in the city’s TriBeCa section. The company landed an anchor tenant in Telx (now part of Digital Realty), the primary interconnection provider in the building, which leased the entire fifth floor in 2014.
The company had a leadership transition last year, as founding CEO Peter Feldman departed to focus on the new Digital Crossroads project in Indiana. DataGryd turned to Brown, who knows the property well from his lengthy tenure at FiberNet Telecom, a long-time tenant at 60 Hudson.
Meanwhile, the data center requirements in Greater New York have evolved, which has guided DataGryd’s approach to how it deploys its expansion capacity.
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“We made a conscious decision that the market has changed,” said Brown. “You don’t see opportunities to sell a half-floor or a full floor. The requirements we are seeing are 100 kw to 500 kw, with some 1 to 2 megawatt customers.”
That’s why DataGryd is building the 60,000 square foot space in 1 megawatt suites, which can be subdivided to support smaller requirements as needed. DataGryd has dubbed its new space “MegaSuite 6” for its sixth-floor location, and recently hired Clune Construction as general contractor for the project, and Hylan Datacom & Electrical to handle the power infrastructure.
“We are making tremendous progress,” said Brown. “It will be completed by the end of the second quarter.” In the meantime, Brown and DataGryd Vice President Sander Gjokaj have been providing regular video updates of the construction process on LinkedIn.
Embracing A Hybrid Model
Although its initial focus was on wholesale and build-to-suit opportunities, DataGryd has adapted to work with a variety of customers, including retail colocation (which separates customer gear using cages and cabinets, rather than dedicated data suites).
“I would consider us a hybrid,” said Brown. We’ll build the suites one behind the other. We’ll partition off cages and have some security standards that are like what we have on the 5th floor.”
DataGryd has also partnered with NYI to offer hybrid cloud and managed network services, including cloud on-ramps leveraging software-defined networking (SDN). NYI operates a data center at 60 Hudson Street.
“The number one challenge we hear from our prospective customers is the high cost of operations based on things like interconnection costs,” said Brown. “By leveraging NYI’s assets, we can now provide an alternative so that customers can bypass the building’s traditional Meet-Me points. This will result in significant reductions to a company’s total cost of ownership within the building and will allow businesses to scale more easily.”
The New York Market in Focus
The New York data center market will be in the spotlight this week at the DCD Enterprise New York conference at the Marriott Marquis.
Data center users in the New York City market typically need to be there for compelling business reasons. The city’s infrastructure for connectivity, especially in Manhattan, is world class due to the data requirements of the area’s large companies.
Users find the NYC data center market attractive for several reasons:
- Strategic Location — Data center users often choose the NYC market because of its strategic proximity to large businesses.
- Robust Connectivity — New York City’s telecommunications infrastructure, specifically the transatlantic cables enabling faster international connectivity, is an advantage to users with those needs.
60 Hudson Street benefits from both those trends. The building, designed by renowned architect Ralph Walker, is among the city’s prominent carrier hotels, along with 111 8th Avenue and 32 Avenue of the Americas.
The DataGryd team worked with the owners of 60 Hudson Street to develop a plan that expanded the power and cooling capacity of the building without disturbing the current tenants – many of whom run mission-critical data center and telecom operations – or the TriBeca neighborhood.
Brown said he continues to see demand from the financial industry, which has long been a key constituency. Several other sectors also continue to require space in Manhattan.
“For cloud providers and content providers and financial institutions, latency matters,” said Brown. “That plays into why they are in Manhattan. They’re right-sizing the requirement to manage their networks, and that is going to continue.”