The Ever-Increasing Demand For Data Centres

Joshua Horton

One will have a similar experience of strolling through a James Bond movie set while stepping into the data centre that occupies the printing facility of the former Chicago Sun-Times.

One will come across an incredible 3-metre-tall fence made of steel which surrounds the property located on the Lower West Side. Here you will find buzzers, gates, cameras, a security desk, as well as doors which make use of fingerprints as the key. Moreover, an iris scan is required when one finally enters the room packed with locked server cages.

There is an increasing demand for data centres at present thanks to the ever-increasing dependence of the society on the cloud. Although the Chicago region is ranked third in the US when it comes to data centre capacity, quite a few states including adjoining Iowa are encouraging the facilities by providing tax incentives.

On the contrary, no such incentive is available in Illinois especially for the data centres that can foster economic developments such as enhanced telecommunications systems and power grids. In turn, all these upgrades are responsible for directing an increasing number of companies as well as jobs to Chicago. According to some individuals, the development of industries can be hindered significantly because of lack of incentives in a state which happens to be the centre of Internet connectivity.

The central location of Chicago is the main reason behind its development as a lucrative market for the data centres which, incidentally, is also the reason for it to become a centre for railroads. The Internet runs on the sophisticated fibre-optic cable network much of which was laid along the railroad tracks, and Chicago was responsible for linking east with the west. Apart from this, the city can boast of having reliable electricity and is likewise free from the perils of earthquakes or hurricanes that often threaten the coastal areas.

According to Dennis Vicchiarelli who happens to be the business development for the public-private partnership’s executive vice president, World Business Chicago, the economic development arm of the city, considers these data centres to be one of the benefits of residing in Chicago.

For instance, Chicago has persevered for accommodating the data centres while updating the laws so as to permit the storage of on-site fuel for the standby generators.

As per Benjamin Brockschmidt who happens to be the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of policy, the state ought to perform its job as well. He further added that data centres provide economic benefits to the regions where they are located, thus helping in contracting jobs as well as construction along with permanent positions at the facilities. Moreover, they are responsible for enhancing the local infrastructure including telecommunications and power access which will be beneficial to the other companies located in the region.

The Chicago area is enticing co-location data centres which are also found in the old Sun-Times building where the companies are able to accommodate their servers. However, Amazon and Google are amongst the tech giants who haven’t put any data centre facility in Illinois.

Although bills were introduced by the legislators in Illinois in the past for creating tax credits for the data centres, they have been held up. The potential of the facilities to enhance the financial condition of Illinois has been recognized by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity of the state. She further added that the data centres are often aided by the department for comprehending the way in which established incentive programs can be beneficial for them.

At present, more computing capabilities are required by the businesses, and consequently, more server space asserted Todd Bateman who pioneers the data centre solutions agency practice of CBRE. The servers which had been stored by the companies over the years are being moved to the data centres so as to provide them with security, a reliable supply of power, connectivity, not to mention a 24-hour support.

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In response, the companies are making the data centres more efficient while providing massive chunks of space for the servers as well. This has triggered the entry of new players on the Chicago market at present.

It has been 2 years since the data centre in the earlier Sun-Times printing plant was introduced by Quality Technology Services, and the company is growing since then. Right now, it can boast of having around 24 MW of power which is more than adequate to fuel in excess of 19,500 households for as many as 30 days.

The data hall accommodating the servers’ cages in the facility of Quality Technology Services where an iris scan is required to enter is getting filled up. The routers, servers plus other equipment along with their erupting cables and blinking lights are piled in rows and safeguarded by being locked in cages. Recently, one morning, a couple of workers clad in neon vests were engaged in making a cage for a fresh customer. In fact, one more data hall has been made ready by the company for customers and there is adequate room on the property for constructing yet another building.

According to Rick Hanzelin, who happens to be the vice president of the information technology infrastructure for the online grocery delivery company, several of its servers were relocated by Peapod into the facility in the month of November. This company, which is based in Chicago, possessed servers at its facilities spread all over the country including its earlier headquarters situated in Skokie. With the development of Peapod, it is almost certain that it is going to add data centres at its warehouses or office buildings.

Mr Hanzelin further added that Peapod felt the need for server relocation to an area where it could expand quite fast. According to him, this provision is provided by the facility of Quality Technology Services, and there was no need to be concerned regarding any power or electrical grid outage similar to what happened while its own servers were stored the company.

Joshua Horton