Donough Roche, VP, Sales Engineering
November 28, 2016

Ashburn, (Loudoun County) Virginia is frequently referred to as "Data Centre Alley." Soon, it may be need to take on a grander nickname as all of the world's leading data centre providers have a significant presence there, and many are expandin

Digital Realty is no exception. Last month, Data Centre Frontier published an article profiling the Ashburn area and the explosive growth of data centre facilities it has seen, as well as a few details on the on-going expansion of Digital Realty's Ashburn campus.

First, a little bit about Ashburn. If Silicon Valley is the world's hotbed for innovation in software and ideas, Ashburn is its equivalent for data centres and connectivity. All the top players have a significant presence there. Ashburn also sits atop the world's densest intersection of fibre networks, making it an ideal location for hosting and moving data. To put it all in perspective, it has been frequently claimed that nearly 70% of all Internet traffic moves through the area. Whatever the actual numbers, a quick tour of Ashburn will reveal the impressive extent of data centre development in the neighborhood.

Ashburn also serves as a model for our relationship with data in general. While for end users, adopting new technologies ultimately feels like a natural progression, that's often because the very real (and massive) physical infrastructures that make that adoption possible is, as the phrase goes, out of sight, out of mind.

But for those in Loudoun County, or who live near one of the many data centres that have been built or are currently under construction, the physical consequences of those needs are apparent.

But why Ashburn and Northern Virginia in the first place? It was home to MAE-East (Metropolitan Area Exchange-East), the Internet's first major interconnection point, first established in the 1990s. Since then, activity in the area has exploded, as has the quantity and scale of the networks, and more than 60 data centres in total have been built in the area.

To say data centre build-outs have become commonplace in Ashburn over the past decade would be an understatement. But as data, in particular mobile data (especially with 5G on the horizon) becomes so much more important to our business and social functions, not only the sheer number, but the efficiency and performance of the data centre, becomes ever more crucial.

Just how important is the data centre to this shift in culture? Jones Lang LaSalle has predicted that cloud adoption across all industries will double the size of the current data centre industry within 5 years, citing cloud demand in multi-tenant data centre space as the major driver of that growth.

While some citizens have voiced some concern about the size and aesthetic qualities of some of the data centre projects, it can be argued that there are also economic benefits reaped by the state and the county that they also get to enjoy, not to mention the social and professional benefits of having such a large, engaged, technology community on their doorstep.

Want to learn more about the boom in data centre construction in Northern Virginia? Read the Data Centre Frontier article in its entirety. Want to learn more about Digital Realty's Northern Virginia Data Centres? Click here to learn about our Ashburn hub.

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