November 2017 – As cloud computing matures and companies of all sizes have increasing IT needs, data centers have become big business. These vast warehouses full of networks of processors are used for the remote storage, transmitting and processing of data. As of October 2017, there are 56 data centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the third highest in the nation behind New York City, with 97 and Washington D.C. with 77, but beating San Jose, CA with 51.
Dallas’s strength as a hub for data centers can in part be traced back to the mid-1990s, when Texas became the center for a new fiber-optic network for the U.S. designed to help county-wide telecommunications networks. The robust telecoms infrastructure combined with ready access to power bought advantages when retrofitting a number of empty building in Dallas during the 2000s. The State of Texas has an independent energy grid, creating an extra level of security for companies worried about power black- and brown-outs, such as the 2003 East Coast blackout. Dallas’s central position in the country also means low latency on data transfer for nation- and world-wide companies.
Real estate and electricity prices both offer good value for companies looking to the county for their data needs. Texas produces more energy than any other state in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Administration Agency, and JLL Research in 2016 claims that the average cost of energy was $0.054 per kilowatt-hour in Dallas, compared with $0.12 in the San Francisco Bay area and $0.052 in Northern Virginia, furthering this point.
Due to the nature of the market, data centers are measured in power capacity. As of March 2017, total inventory in the Dallas-Fort Worth market is 208 MW, according to CBRE. This makes it the second largest market in the U.S. by capacity, behind Northern Virginia, with 557 MW, and ahead of Chicago, with 192 MW. According to the Data Center Frontier report published in 2016, the market in Dallas-Fort Worth is growing at 20 MW per year.
As of the second half of 2017, there are 10 major data center projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In October, T5 Data Centers opened a new 156,000-square-foot data center on its Plano campus in Collin County, adding 10.75 MW of capacity and bring the total campus capacity of up to 28.75 MW. Also in October, Dallas-based IT real estate company CyrusOne broke ground on a 66-acre project in Allen, Collin County. It will be the first data center in a three-part project that will result in a campus of 1 million square feet with a total capacity of 100 MW.
“The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has always been a strong market for CyrusOne, and we continue to see growing demand from customers to scale with us. Allen is a business-friendly community, and its proximity to Dallas makes it an ideal site for our new state-of-the-art data center campus,” said John Gould, executive vice president of global sales for CyrusOne in a press release.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is already home to Facebook’s $1-billion data center, which opened in May 2017. The company is already expanding by an extra 100 acres, with construction costing a further $267 million. In August, Digital Realty Trust announced the first phase of a three phase $1 billion data campus on a 47.5-acre piece of land in Garland. When complete the project will bring capacity of 150 MW. The area is already home to a 388-million, 200-000-square-foot data center that was opened in the first of 2017 by RagingWire Data Centers. Also the first part of a three-phase investment, when complete the $1-billion campus will have 80 MW of capacity. Other companies with completed or planned data facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth market include Skybox Data Centers, RagingWire and Digital Realty.
The first half of 2017 saw investment worth $18.2 billion in the U.S. data center market, according to CBRE. The need for greater storage, more complex data processing solutions and greater security concerns have led to a larger number of companies are migrating to cloud-based IT solutions. Faster and more reliable internet connections mean that off-site data-servers are often the most cost-effective and practical options for companies of all sizes. All this suggests that the data center market is far from peaking. Dallas is well positioned to make the most of the potential.
Once the domain of the science fiction fantasy, experts are predicting a cashless society in the U.S. by 2030. As Apple Pay, Bitcoin and contactless cards are taking the place of traditional bills and coins, electronic payment is becoming one of the most crucial segments of the fintech sector. With the launch of the P20 Payment Conference, Atlanta, Georgia is consolidating its position right in the center of this lucrative system.
June 2017 – In an April 2017 survey conducted for ING Bank, 38 percent of respondents from the U.S. said that they would like to “go completely cashless.” For a generation of professionals raised with debit cards, the idea of making even the smallest of transactions without resorting to traditional bills and coins is becoming more reasonable. However, with this new era for day-to-day financial transactions comes an increased demand for processing infrastructure, security, and innovation.
Atlanta has been on its way to becoming a center for credit card payment processing since the late 1980s when caps on the credit card fees were lifted and credit card companies flocked to Georgia. In 2017, around 70 percent of all transactions in the U.S. were going through Atlanta, according to the American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC), earning is the title of “Transaction Alley”. Around half of all global payments are currently processed in Atlanta and the surrounding region.
“Atlanta sits at the intersection between financial technologies and a large number of payment companies. The cost of living and operating makes Atlanta a good prospect for companies, and the educational environment here is very good. It makes sense to have a concentration of fintech companies here.“ Joan Herbig, CEO of ControlScan told Focus: Atlanta 2017.
To build upon this already impressive standing and with an eye to the future of international payments the first P20 conference, run in partnership with the City of London, UK will be taking place in October 2017. The conference will alternate between Atlanta and London and will bring together 20 of the most important payment processing institutions, as well as bankers, politicians and other members of the international finance industry.
“The P20 conference will be great for Atlanta. London is often considered a financial capital and so having bilateral cooperation between London and Atlanta is itself advantageous. The P20 conference will be a great launching pad for more awareness and the promotion of Atlanta on the global stage.” Barry McCarthy, executive vice-president of First Data told Focus: Atlanta in May 2017.
The aim of P20 is to bring together key innovators and stakeholders to work on a range of issues such as security, regulation and developing technology. It will create a direct connection and partnership between Atlanta and London, leading to long-term synergies and importantly, facilitating dialogue surrounding issues such as growing security risks and the need for regulation.
“The P20 conference is our international platform that will bring together regulatory thought leaders with industry thought leaders from the U.K. and the U.S. It will nurture new ideas around the future frameworks. We want to set up global regulatory frameworks and we want to do this in an inclusive fashion.” H. West Richards, executive director of ATPC told Focus: Atlanta 2017.
The Fintech industry supports more than 40,000 jobs in Georgia, and is worth more than $30 billion per year. Despite uncertainty as to its place in the EU, London held onto its title of financial capital of the world in 2017. The P20 partnership will bring the international recognition that Atlanta deserves, and help to grow its already vibrant fintech industry even more.