ASHBURN, Va. – When he announced his company’s entry into Northern Virginia, Vantage Data Centers CEO Sureel Choksi noted that it “really is a ‘go big or go home’ market.
As it enters 2019, Vantage has indeed hit the “go big” phase of its growth. Today the company announced the completion of phase one of its new Ashburn campus in the heart of Virginia’s “Data Center Alley.” Vantage has opened the doors on VA11, the first of five buildings and 142 megawatts of capacity planned for its initial Northern Virginia campus.
The Ashburn project is just one component of an expansion strategy that has kicked into high gear over the last two months. In December, Vantage acquired Canadian provider 4Degrees Colocation, providing a data center footprint in the power-rich market in Quebec. In early January, Vantage unveiled plans to build a 1 million square foot data center in Goodyear, Arizona to serve the fast-growing Phoenix market. Last week the company lined up $675 million in debt and equity financing to fund its growth.
The flurry of activity represents the realization of a vision that took shape with Vantage’s acquisition by Digital Bridge, when Choksi outlined the potential for Vantage to serve as a platform to expand into new markets beyond its home base in Silicon Valley. Two years later, the company has 10 data centers and nearly 100 megawatts of capacity deployed across six markets, with another 97 megawatts in the pipeline and runway for expansion in the country’s three busiest data center markets
Building Bigger Data Halls
The first phase of VA11 offers six megawatts of data center space, with another 24 megawatts to follow in subsequent phases.
“As we open the doors at our newest campus, we are attracting major hyperscale, cloud and enterprise prospects across the globe.” said Lee Kestler, Vantage’s chief commercial officer. “We have a robust pipeline of activity, and we are now focused on ramping up the second phase of development to keep up with demand.”
That second phase will consist of an additional 8 megawatts of IT capacity and is scheduled for completion in August. “We decided to build a bigger shell, with 8 megawatt rooms versus 6 megawatt rooms,” said Kestler. “We wanted to standardize as much as possible.”
Those larger data halls reflect an industry trend. Bigger is the new reality in Northern Virginia, where data center operators leased 270 megawatts of capacity in 2018, representing more than half of all leasing in the U.S. and more than doubling the previous record for annual data center absorption.
“The demand for data centers is skyrocketing,” said Buddy Rizer, executive director of economic development for Loudoun County. “Companies from all over the world are seeking out providers like Vantage in Loudoun due to our low power rates, favorable business climate and talented workforce.”
Focus on Efficiency, Sustainability
Few in the industry have had a better view of the growth in Ashburn than Kestler, who has years of experience in Northern Virginia with Exodus, Savvis and DuPont Fabros Technology before joining Vantage in early 2018.
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On a frigid afternoon in January, Kestler and Principal Construction Manager Ryan Dorsett provided Data Center Frontier with a tour of the new campus. With the temperature hovering around 20 degrees, the Ashburn site is a far cry from the warmer weather in Vantage’s Silicon Valley campus in Santa Clara. The site buzzed with activity as construction teams completed work on the first phase.
The campus features a new design using air-cooled chillers, which dramatically reduce the data centers’ use of water – while also helping Vantage deliver efficiency as measured via PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) and WUE (Water Usage Effectiveness. Other sustainability features include on-site solar and wind energy sources, which support lighting and free electric vehicle charging stations.
The new data center has robust fiber connectivity and an N+1 redundant power infrastructure, supported by a bank of 2.75-megawatt backup generators. Equipment for cooling and power distribution is housed in equipment galleries that are isolated from the data halls.
The VA11 designation doesn’t mean it’s Vantage’s 11th data center in Northern Virginia. The naming convention translates to building 1 on campus 1 in Virginia, a sign that Vantage is thinking about long-term growth in the region.
Vantage is already dealing with multiple campuses in Santa Clara, where it recently completed the buildout of its six building, 75-megawatt initial campus on Walsh Avenue, and has broken ground on an expansion campus about a mile away.
New Funding Provides Growth Capital
To fund that growth, Vantage has raised more than $180 million in equity capital from existing investors and approximately $495 million in debt financing. The funding sources will finance growth initiatives, including the 4Degrees Colocation acquisition and the build-out of the first data center on the company’s second campus in Santa Clara.
“The capital we raised over the last 90 days will help fund the explosive growth we’re experiencing and anticipate seeing throughout 2019 and beyond,” said Sharif Metwalli, CFO, Vantage Data Centers. “We have been executing on our growth and development and are well prepared to continue our current trajectory. This capital accelerates the funding of our long-term strategic plan.”
Vantage’s coast-to-coast presence in North America now spans six markets, including U.S. campuses in Santa Clara, Northern Virginia, Phoenix and Quincy, Washington as well as campuses in Montreal and Quebec City in Canada.