According to Data Center Frontier, "Loudoun County (Virginia) is home to more than 60 data centers, with 6 million square feet of data center space and another 4 million square feet under development. Nearby Prince William County says it hosts an additional 2 million square feet of data centers."
That’s a staggering amount of data center space, but for good reason.
Why Build or Locate Here?
The desire to build data centers in Northern Virginia really comes down to three factors – geography, connectivity and power.
The National Capital Region sits squarely in the middle of the Interstate 95 corridor that runs down the east coast, connecting major metropolitan areas from Boston to Miami. It's a centrally-located hub in the middle of an extremely population-dense region, home to a large number of people and companies. Data centers located in the National Capital Region are centrally-located and optimally placed to deliver services to the entire east coast of the United States and beyond.
The region's long history with the IT and telecommunications industry also plays a factor. The emergence of companies such as AOL and other large IT and telecom companies created a demand for fiber, which the companies worked to implement. As a result, the region is host to Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and a multitude of connectivity options. This connectivity - which sees 70 percent of the World's Internet traffic flow through the region - was responsible for Washingtonian Magazine characterizing Loudoun County, VA, (which includes Ashburn) as Data Center Alley, "the backbone of the online world."
Northern Virginia also has other advantages critical to running a data center - energy and power. Northern Virginia has a dependable power grid that helps data center providers and managers maximize up-time. It also features less expensive power than other areas in the country, with energy costs - on average - 20 percent less than in other areas, making operating a data center in the region less expensive.
Finally, Loudoun County has worked to pass legislation and tax exemptions that make it more advantageous for data center providers to do business in the region. These sales tax exemptions lower the cost for the end user, making it more economically beneficial to lease data center space from providers in Northern Virginia.
Even More Benefits
Geography, connectivity and energy aside, there are other factors that help to make Ashburn, VA, and the larger National Capital Region attractive to data center providers and companies looking locate to a facility in the area.
The region's infrastructure makes it particularly attractive for companies. The area features multiple mass transit options. In addition, Northern Virginia features a highly skilled and educated workforce thanks in large part to the many colleges and universities in the greater Washington, D.C. Metro area.
These benefits, coupled with the area’s connectivity, reliable power and geographically-centralized location, make Ashburn the current center of the digital world.