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Powering business, one byte at a time

If big data is big business, then managing big data is even bigger business. It takes a special mix of physical space, infrastructure, reliability, low cost of utilities, low tax liability, and proximity to users and talent to make data centers hum. All of these ingredients for success are right here in North Texas.

“This area has a large local market of Fortune 500 companies who like to have their data centers close,” said John Jacobs, executive VP of Economic Development for the City of Richardson, home of the Metroplex’s famed Telecom Corridor. “Because of DFW International Airport, we’re also an inbound market for companies all over the country.”

According to commercial property firm JLL, North Texas is second only to suburban Washington, D.C. as the fastest-growing data center market in the country. DigitalRealty, for example, is building upwards of 470,000 square feet in the Telecom Corridor, which already hosts 20 data centers comprising 2.1 million square feet of space. Another landmark new development is Facebook’s new facility in AllianceTexas, where three 250,000-square-foot, “green building” data centers promise to be the world’s most environmentally friendly.

“When we started AllianceTexas, there was no infrastructure – no roads, no fiber, no water,” said Bill Burton, executive vice president of Hillwood Properties, AllianceTexas. “Now it’s all new, all underground, and all looped. Availability to redundant electricity is the reason several companies have chosen to locate here.”

The convergence of great minds is also something that attracts companies to AllianceTexas, virtually a “city within a city.”

“We’re a development of 445 companies. It’s distribution, it’s light manufacturing, it’s office, it’s data centers – it’s a wide variety of companies, a diversity of economies,” said Burton.

North Texas has something else to offer: technology to innovate the way data centers run on electrical power. One North Texas-based tech pioneer is developing new technology to help increase the efficient use of power in these specialized centers.

“Instead of having converters that convert high voltage down to the computer server’s low voltage, you just stack the servers, electrically speaking, together,” said Pradeep Shenoy, the Kilby Labs Dallas systems engineer at Texas Instruments who is researching the new technology. “By avoiding energy conversion in the first place, we have a much more efficient system overall.”

Experts say that, in the short term, this project could mean a marked difference for how electricity is delivered to servers and, in the long term, may completely change the way energy is distributed in a sustainable future.

“If you look at the data center business in North Texas, experts don’t think we’re in the eighth or ninth inning – they say we’re only in the second or third inning,” said Jacobs. “We’re a culture of information and we want that info at our fingertips. Data centers are the places where increasingly that resides.”

You can read more about this and other assets of North Texas in NTX Magazine.

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