Data Centers as Cloud-Service Exporters

The ultra-high capacity undersea cables linking Virginia Beach to Brazil and Spain has benefited the economy not just of Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads but of Henrico County. Telxius, the operator of subsea cables terminating in Virginia Beach, has established a location in QTS Realty Trust’s data center in eastern Henrico. Reports Virginia Business magazine:

The cables, known as MAREA and BRUSA, are two of the highest-capacity, lowest latency subsea cables ever built. Low latency is especially important for streaming data.

MAREA, which connects Spain and Virginia Beach, is a joint project with Facebook and Microsoft. Telxius operates the cable for the companies. …

“What that means functionally for the traffic on those networks is you’ve now got the ability to interconnect with the 17 different carriers and network suppliers in that building, which means you can get to a lot of places all across North America right there at the Richmond data center,” Sean Baillie, executive vice president of sales and marketing for QTS, said in an interview.

It also will connect the subsea cables to QTS’ data center in Ashburn in Loudoun County, which is home to the largest concentration of data centers in the world.

Here’s what’s really cool: The overseas connections allow Virginia-based data centers to provide data storage and content distribution to European and Latin American customers, be they financial institutions, health-care providers, gaming companies or content providers. In essence, the underseas cables open up export markets for Virginia-based cloud services.

“What we in Richmond offer to all those potential buyers is the closest geographic access to those cables, which is the closest geographic access to Puerto Rico and Brazil and then to Bilbao, Spain, which is an entry point to all of Europe and beyond,” Baillie said. “There’s a ton of use cases for folks that want access to those cables.”

Data centers are the biggest economic-development play of the decade for Virginia. While Loudoun County is the national leader, benefits are spilling over into Prince William County, Henrico County, and Virginia Beach. Data centers may not be big job creators, but the jobs they support are highly paid. And they throw off large tax streams to local government, even if, like Henrico, they have slashed tax rates to induce data-center investment.

Ten years ago, no one saw this coming. Building a world-class data-center industry in Virginia wasn’t in anybody’s strategic plan. The boom just happened. Virginia was in the right place at the right time — a huge amount of fiber-optic capacity had been laid in Northern Virginia during the go-go 1990s dot.com era, providing massive under-utilized capacity — and the Old Dominion had a business climate that didn’t discourage investment. Loudoun saw the potential before anyone else and local government worked to create a positive tax and regulatory environment. The county jumped into the lead and the rest is history.

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3 responses to “Data Centers as Cloud-Service Exporters

  1. Yawn. Wires. Who cares? Nobody who knows anything about technology. Henrico has a telco hotel. There are 1,000 in Loudoun County. Show me people writing top tier software in Virginia and then I’ll get excited.

    • Dude, you’re the expert on cloud computing. It would be nice for you to share some of your knowledge. All I know is what I crib from press accounts — written by other journalists who know almost nothing. Outside of Northern Virginia, I’m not sure that our economic developers understand the industry sector either.

      How about a post explaining the real economic value-add from cloud computing? You say it’s writing software? What kind of software applications are layered on top of cloud computing?

      If Amazon decides to locate HQ2 in Northern Virginia, would you expect to see a lot of Cloud Computing software to be written there? Is there any advantage, or none at all, for the software writers to be co-located with the data centers?

      And, hey, how about IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat? Is there a connection between open-source software and the cloud?

      • Are you that bored? A column on cloud? Maybe. Al Gore invented the internet and I invented the cloud. Only unlike Big Al the Kiddie’s Pal I have the patent …

        https://patents.justia.com/patent/7870535

        The cloud was invented in Northern Virginia by three dudes from Northern Virginia – 2 of whom went to Groveton High School. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

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