Data Center News - Issue 5

Alana Cumming

By Alana Cumming

19 Feb 2021

8 min read

Data Center News - Issue 5

Welcome to the fifth edition of Harper Harrison’s Data Center News. We know how busy many of the industry leaders are in this thriving sector, so we thought we would highlight some of the months industry news into a bite size format. Download your pdf copy below:


VOLUME 1, ISSUE 5 (Februry 2021) 


5th Edition 


January was a great way to kick off what is shaping up to be an exciting year for all involved in the data center industry. For the most part, the General Contractors, AE Firms and Colo Providers we speak to are busier than ever when it comes to the design and construction of new facilities across North America. 


This activity creates fantastic opportunity at a senior level, and we have already seen some high profile moves this year. Val Milshtein, former Cologix and Century Link exec, joined Stack Infrastructure as Chief Technology Officer. Over on the West Coast, Matthew Moews joined NTT Global Data Centers from Facebook. 


Industry Insights.


January brought the release of Cushman & Wakefield’s Data Center Global Market Comparison, that gives a great insight into the current state of the industry and where we are heading in 2021. 


It is stated that although the pandemic has caused construction difficulties, data centers have been less effected than other sectors and construction is going ahead with the appropriate safety measures. 


An active development pipeline is a good indicator of how a market is performing and it is rare to see speculative development in the data center industry. Leading the way in terms of development pipeline are primary markets such as Virginia, Singapore, London and Silicon Valley with Frankfurt, Dublin, and Chicago not far behind (Cushman & Wakefield, 2021). 


Another strong measure of how an industry is performing is recruitment activity. Since the turn of the year Harper Harrison’s mission critical team have seen record numbers in activity with several key colo clients coming to the table with senior level development and construction roles. 


KW Mission Critical Join WSP. 


WSP announced the acquisition of KW Mission Critical, a strategic move to expand their offering in the mission critical sector. Alexandre L’Heureux, WSP’S President and CEO said: “Welcoming KW Mission Critical Engineering into the WSP family further expands our building sector capabilities in the high growth data center market in the United States.” WSP made a commitment in 2019 to grow their offering in complex Science and Technology markets which now represents a large portion of their North American business. 


DataBank Closes Acquisition of zColo’s US & UK Data Center Assets 


DataBank, a leading colocation provider announced the acquisition of zColo’s US and UK data center assets. The investment accelerates DataBanks edge strategy by adding modular facilities to the portfolio. The acquisition solidifies DataBanks position as a leader in edge infrastructure allowing customers to move platforms closer to end-users. DataBank now offers customers access to 64 data centers in 29 markets across the globe (PR Newswire, 2021). 



CyrusOne buys 67MW of renewable power for Texas data centers 


Cyrus One announced the purchase of 67MW of renewable energy from a new solar farm to power two of its data centers in Texas. Kyle Myers, Senior Director of Environmental Health said: “the purchase of renewables to reduce data center carbon emissions is a key part of our comprehensive sustainability mission at Cyrus One”. Cyrus One previously announced their pledge to be 100% carbon-free by 2040 (Data Center Dynamics, 2021). 


AWS Buys Land in Fairfax, Northern Virginia 


AWS has purchased more land in Virginia, this time 46.4 acres in Northern Virginia. AWS purchased the sites from Petula Prolix Development Co for $55.9m. The company have not announced what plans they have for the site, but a data center is likely given the proximity to the company’s other facilities (Data Center Dynamics, 2021). 


EdgeConneX Announces New Edge Data Center in Santiago, Chile 


EdgeConnex has announced its new edge data center in Santiago, Chile. The facility will have Oracle as the anchor tenant and a second facility is already being planned. The facility is EdgeConnex’s 33rd location in its data center portfolio and will offer 7MW of capacity to customers. Lucas Palacios, the Economy Minister of Chile said; “Our country needs investment that focuses on technology, innovation and the sophistication of human capital that will make us more competitive in the region, and the world”. 


Digital Realty Moves Headquarters to Low-Tax Texas 


Digital Realty followed several California based companies by announcing they will be moving their HQ to Austin from San Francisco. Digital Realty CEO Bill Stein has already relocated to Texas along with a handful of other executives. A statement from Digital Realty on the reasons surrounding the decision stated its “established track record of success and growth in Texas, along with its extensive investment in the state in terms of capital as well as talent” (Data Center Knowledge, 2021). 




What a way to kick off 2021! The levels of activity in terms of acquisitions, land purchases, developments, design, and construction have been astounding this month. Not only does this year feel more positive, but there is also more confidence and action backing this positivity up. 

A massive thank you to Josh Pirkl of Glumac who took the time to speak to us about his journey in the data center industry. Josh gave some fantastic advice to professionals just getting started in the industry and touched on some interesting topics surrounding energy efficiency and the industries talent shortage. Check out his full interview below:




How did you get into the Data Center industry? 


I have always been interested in how things work and later in life that evolved into my interest in the built environment. This is what led me down the path of engineering. 


I really started my career working for a small mechanical firm specializing in geothermal energy, specifically geothermal heat pump systems for buildings. From there I was immediately pulled into building engineering and was very interested in energy efficient mechanical systems. As my career progressed, I was introduced to data center design/engineering. I was in awe of the scale and opportunity to save energy within these types of facilities. At this point I knew this was what I wanted to do. 


What makes the Data Center sector unique? 


What initially attracted me to data center design is what makes it unique. The size, scale, and complexity of these projects really makes them fascinating. Due to the amount of energy these facilities use, efficiency measures which are deployed are multiplied compared to other buildings such as offices or even hospitals. You also have the opportunity to work with some of the brightest people in the industry including engineers, architects, manufacturers, and end users. 


What 3 tips would you give to someone just getting started in the industry? 


  • Have an eye for detail. This concept can be applied beyond engineering into relationships, construction, project management, etc. 
  • Take initiative! Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. The people I’ve seen be successful figure out what needs to be done and push tasks forward. 
  • Thinking outside the box. Our industry has come up with a lot of great ideas over the last 20 or 30 years but we really need to push the envelope. There are a lot of great ideas out there that need to be discovered. 


What do you think will be the biggest challenge in the next five years for the Data Center market? 


I believe it’s getting enough qualified professionals, including engineers, architects, project managers, contractors, and trades people. Lack of these qualified professionals will stagnate our ability to increase data center builds and will increase project costs. We need these people in order for our industry to keep up with construction demand and build data centers as fast as they’re required. 


How do you believe we can overcome this challenge? 


In terms of providing enough industry professionals, we really need to engage schools and universities. This means engineers, architects, contractors, and end users need to reach out to these institutions and engage them in our industry. We need to support recruitment, assist with educational programs, and generally spread information about our industry. 


The industry also needs to be flexible and adapt. Change is often difficult, but necessary and helps drive new ideas. We need to embrace this as new technologies emerge and better ways of building come together. 



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