Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an extra demand for cloud computing resources due to the rapid societal shift to online services in Northern Virginia. The “home of the cloud” Northern Virginia has more than 100 data centers and 10 million square feet of IT technical space.
The sudden shifts to digital work
Buddy Rizer has been managing growth in Loudoun’s “Data Center Alley” for 13 years. Rizer, the Executive Director of Economic Development for Loudoun County talked about this extraordinary demand, saying,
“Since March 16, Loudoun County has received “fast track” applications for seven construction projects, representing nearly 3 million square feet of new data center space. We’ve never been as busy as we are right now with the data center industry. It’s quite amazing. COVID has definitely accelerated development. This is all stuff that was in planning stages already, but COVID definitely has hurried all the timelines. Everyone’s seeing more demand for their services, and they are looking for more capacity to be ready for growth.”
While the world has gone online as never before, the sudden shift to digital work has driven a 30 percent surge in Internet traffic, with some video conferencing services like Zoom seeing much larger increases in demand. To meet this growing demand, Aligned, Digital Realty, Equinix, QTS Data Centers, Sentinel Data Centers, and several hyper-scale operators started a new data center Project. Near Leesburg, there is an ongoing project by Compass Datacenters and are cloud campuses for Google and Microsoft.
According to Rizer, there are some infill pieces in Data Center Alley. But apart from redevelopment, there are not many sites left in Ashburn. The area near Route 50, and Route 606 (near Dulles) has a lot of activity right now. There’s also some strong out activity in the area going out towards Leesburg. He said that the county has worked closely with its pandemic task force and local construction firms to keep data center projects moving ahead.
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