Data Center: Major Chandler data center to expand

by Luci Scott for The Arizona Republic

Every time you use Google or YouTube or e-mail, you don’t think of the technology powering what you do. Behind the scenes are data centers in huge, nondescript buildings filled with rows and rows of servers.

Data centers are building blocks for modern life, engines for the world economy.

Chandler has one of these big data centers, and it’s about to get much bigger.

On 24 acres at 2121 S. Price Road, it is owned by San Francisco-based Digital Realty Trust, which says it is the world’s largest wholesale provider of data centers.

The company owns 96 data centers throughout the world, including one in Phoenix, two in Tempe and what will be its largest in the Valley: Chandler.

The building covers more than 293,000 square feet, and construction is under way on an additional 226,000 rentable square feet.

The expansion’s shell is expected to be finished in June, and the first of several sections for new servers is due to be completed in August.

The data center’s tenants range from small firms to multinationals.

“At any given time, up to 40 or 50 companies will be in the building once the expansion is complete,” said Dave Caron, senior vice president of portfolio management and the man overseeing the project.

Some companies lease servers to other businesses, so the effect of the center is magnified.

After the expansion, about 275 people will work there.

Servers require vast amounts of electricity. An energy-intensive office building might use 5 watts a foot of power, and a data center uses 100 to 150 watts per foot, Caron said.

“It takes 20 to 30 times the electricity of an office building,” he said. Because of the heat generated, it takes 20 to 30 times as much cooling as an office building.

Plus, all of the equipment needs to be redundant because “these are mission-critical facilities that never can go down,” Caron said.

“The building is more complex and more expensive, and since most big companies and the Internet rely on data centers, they play a big role in supporting the local economy,” Caron said.

Digital Realty likes metropolitan Phoenix for several reasons, including reasonable electric rates, a technical workforce, a network of fiber-optic cables and a lack of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.

“The other thing that we like Phoenix for is that it has a good strong local economy, and we have a lot of customers locally for the building,” Caron said.

Furthermore, companies often have a main data center near their headquarters and a second one elsewhere, and metropolitan Phoenix is good for the second one, he said.

Data centers provide another advantage for communities. They put host cities on the radar screens of the executives of tenant companies, prompting visits and better chances of expansion.

“Data centers are very important facilities to their companies,” Caron said. If companies are going to have a few regional offices, it makes sense to locate one in the same city as the data center, Caron said.

“The Phoenix area is a very important location for Digital Realty, and we’re very bullish on the area,” he said. “We have four facilities now, and after we finish (Chandler), we hope to continue to grow in the Phoenix metropolitan area.”


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