One of North Texas’ biggest data center projects is going to get a lot bigger.
QTS Data Centers four years expanded into the Dallas area with its purchase of a 700,000 square-foot building in Irving.
Now the Kansas-based data center company has started an expansion that eventually will more than double the size of its facility, which started life as a chip plant.
“It was originally built by Hitachi as a semiconductor facility in the 1980s,” said Travis Wright, site director for QTS’ Irving data center. “The initial investment in the place was about $1 billion.
“We bought it for $20 million,” Wright said.
QTS redeveloped the former chip plant into one of its largest data centers. First they had to haul out acres of old manufacturing equipment to make way for the new data halls.
“We took out about 4.5 million pounds of recyclable materials,” Wright said. “We used that to help fund part of the project.”
Since opening the Las Colinas data center, QTS has quickly filled up the huge building with rack after rack of computer servers and all the infrastructure needed to support the operations.
Company officials say the growth at the Irving center is being fueled by a shift to “hyperscale” data centers that offer major companies big economies of scale and room to rapidly grow.
“We are extremely excited to be a part of the Texas environment,” said QTS’ Brian Johnston, chief technology officer. “There is lots of construction talent, lots of engineering talent and lots of IT talent.
“There’s a great cost of power a great cost of land,” Johnston said.
QTS has purchased additional acreage at its Las Colinas data center and adjacent to a recent property it purchased.
“We plan to incrementally add to the campuses,” Johnston said. “We have dirt moving on the next building.”
What’s under construction in Las Colinas is the first of four, 300,000-square-foot data center buildings QTS will add adjacent to its existing facility.
When finished, the campus off State Highway 114 will have about 2 million square feet. That’s bigger than the largest downtown Dallas skyscraper – the 72-story Bank of America Plaza.
“In order to be able to serve what’s happening here in Texas you have to have new capacity to support that,” Johnston said. “We’ve seen tremendous growth and acceptance of our product in this market.”
The old semiconductor plant was ideal for reuse as the massive data center, QTS officials say.
“There is a lot of power and cooling,” Wright said. “And a big robust structure.
“We came in and put all new electrical infrastructure and hardened it from a natural disaster standpoint.”
Built with 90-foot deep foundation piers down to the bedrock, the 3-level data center complex is served by its own electric substation, dual power sources and huge air-conditioning plant.
Keeping equipment cool is one of the biggest challenges for data center operators.
“Every kilowatt of power that comes in essentially turns into heat that needs to be removed,” Wright said.
Despite the huge scale of the operations, data centers like QTS’s Irving plant don’t house an army of workers like when the building housed the chip plant.
“There were a lot of people involved in making semiconductors, so there were probably 1,000 people here at one time,” Wright said. “QTS employees here today are about 38 including sales.”
QTS plans to have the first of its new buildings completed in Irving by next year and will keep developing the site.
The company in January paid $50 million for an existing data center in North Fort Worth in the AllianceTexas development. QTS bought land to add on to that complex, too.
The North Fort Worth center is in the same area where Facebook is building its huge new data center complex – which at almost 1.5 million square feet is the largest in the area.
D-FW is now considered the country’s largest data center market behind only Northern Virginia.
QTS perates 26 data centers with more than 5 million square feet. The company provides services to more than 1,100 customers in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Presented by Dallas Morning News, September 14, 2017.