Few guests of the Extended Stay America hotel on E Easter Ave in Englewood, Colorado, would have guessed that right next to them sits a warehouse that runs 24/7. This warehouse, however, does not stock inventory or process shipments that you might expect a normal warehouse does. This warehouse stores, processes, and transmits something way more valuable – data.
Lined with rows of servers stacked in metal cabinets that are constantly kept cool and well-ventilated, the building above is a data center that belongs to Equinix, one of the world’s largest data center real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Without centers like these, we would not be able to enjoy watching Netflix, order from Amazon, listen to Spotify, and upload to the ‘cloud.’ The more our lives become dependent on technology and the internet, the more critical the role these centers play in the interconnectivity fabric. Yet, few actually know where all of our data go to live.
That said, with the help Pelion’s Peer Analysis feature, we set out to answer this question by plotting out some of the world’s biggest data center companies:
Virginia – The Heart That Beats Data
One thing that jumps out immediately during our research is that Amazon, as well as other data center operators, appear to have a disproportionate concentration of data centers in Virginia with 199 facilities in total by our count. Amazon leads the pack with 60 facilities, in part because it is where the company first set up shop in 2006.
However and more importantly, Northern Virginia, specifically an area called Dulles Technology Corridor, has long been a business cluster defense and technology companies since the Cold War. Many defense companies and state agencies had set up offices there to be far away enough from Washington D.C. in case of a nuclear attack but not so far as to be inaccessible. Since then, the region has grown to become a tech hotbed and has been called the “Silicon Valley of the East.” Up to 70% of the world’s interest traffic is estimated to travel through this region.
Consequently, it is quite common to see clusters of large campuses of data centers in the region like the ones below.
California – The Heart of Innovation
Silicon Valley – the innovation hub where every entrepreneur aspires to be in and every prominent venture capital fund has a presence is next up on the list with 63 data center facilities, the bigger cluster of which is located outside Silicon Valley and the smaller of which is in Los Angeles.
With so many tech companies in the region, it is no surprise that data center operators would set up their infrastructure there, given the ease of interconnection and marketability. Here, however, we find fewer large campuses like the ones in Virginia, given sky-high real estate prices and limited space. Nonetheless, these centers play a critical role in the connectivity of the West Coast.
Data Center Location Intelligence
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