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State of the Colocation Industry


By on February 7, 2010

Not long ago President Obama gave the annual State of the Union speech, which made me decide to do a State of the Colocation Industry post looking back at 2009/January 2010 and how things look now. This overview will be limited to the big data center providers who focus on carrier neutral colocation, but pretty comprehensive in regards to these.

More specifically I have decided to limit this post to focus on Equinix, Interxion, Telehouse (owned by KDDI), CoreSite (formerly known as CRG West), Telx, TelecityGroup and Global Switch. Other major colocation providers exist as well, but as their focus isn’t primarily on carrier neutral colocation they are not included in this post.

News, Acquisitions & Expansions

To start with I have compiled an overview overview of the most relevant headlines regarding alliances, acquisitions, new facilities and expansions announced by the providers in 2009 and January 2010 (this part can be skipped):

  • Equinix
    • Expansion (second phase) of NY4 data center in Secaucus, New Jersey USA, opened in May 2009 ($82 million expansion for capacity of 1,100 extra cabinets) [link]
    • New ZH4 data center announced for Zurich, Switzerland, to open in Q2 2010 (1,200 sq. m./12,920 sq. f. for 500 cabinets) [link]
    • New CH4 data center announced for Chicago, USA, to open in Q1 2010 (600 cabinets) [link]
    • Expansion of CH2 data center in Chicago, USA, opened in July 2009 (200 cabinets) [link]
    • New FR4 data center acquired from Exodus Communications in Frankfurt, Germany, in July 2009 ($30 million purchase of 10,000 sq. m./107,000 sq. f. with capacity of 3,300 cabinets) [link]
    • Expansion (third phase) of NY4 data center in Secaucus, New Jersey USA, for mid-2010 ($100 million expansion for capacity of 1,250 extra cabinets) [link]
    • New SG2 data center opened in Singapore ($45 million initial phase with capacity for 700 cabinets) [link]
    • New LA4 data center opened in Los Angeles, California USA, in August 2009 ($95 million initial phase for 10,000 sq. f./900 sq. m. with capacity of 800 cabinets) [link]
    • New DC6 data center announced for Washington D.C., USA, to open at summer 2010 ($100 million project for 152,000 sq. f./14,000 sq. m. with capacity for 1,750 cabinets) [link]
    • New SV5 data center announced for Silicon Valley, California USA, ($100 million initial phase with capacity for 1,000 cabinets) [link]
    • Announced acquisition of Switch & Data (SDXC) ($98 million deal incl. 34 data centers with 1,100,000 sq. f./100,000 sq. m. of space)
    • New GV2 data center in Geneva, Switzerland, announced to open in December 2009 (Initial phase of 380 cabinets) [link]

    Total: 8 new data centers opened or announced, 3 expansions planned or opened & 34 data centers included in the Switch & Data acquisition.

  • Interxion
    • Expansion of data center in Copenhagen, Denmark, announced for May 2009 (1,000 sq. m./10,700 sq. f.) [link]
    • Expansion of city data center in London, United Kingdom, completed in July 2009 (400 sq. m./4,300 sq. f.) [link]
    • Expansion of ZUR1 data center in Zurich, Switzerland, announced for early 2010 (2,650 sq. m./28,500 sq. f.) [link]
    • Increased credit limit with €45 million in June [link]
    • New data center announced for Dublin, Ireland, to open in April 2010 (€12 million investment for 2,455 sq. m./26,400 sq. f.) [link]
    • New PAR6 data center opened in Paris, France, in September 2009 (1,400 sq. m./15,000 sq. f.) [link]
    • Expansion of data center in Madrid, Spain, completed in September 2009 (1,500 sq. m./16,000 sq. f.) [link]
    • New FRA6 data center announced for Frankfurt, Germany, to open in Q3 2010 [link]
    • New PAR5 data center opened in Paris, France, in October 2009 (4,000 sq. m./43,000 sq. f.) [link]

    Total: 4 new data centers opened or announced & 4 expansions planned or opened.

  • Telehouse (KDDI)
    • New Magny data center opened in Paris, France, in March 2009 (15,000 sq. m./) [link]
    • KDDI company PRISM’s data center in Seoul, Korea, changed to be part of the Telehouse brand in April 2009 [link]
    • New Telehouse West data center to open in London, United Kingdom, in March 2010 (£80 million project for 19,000 sq. m./161,400 sq. f.) [link]
    • New Telehouse data center opened in Cape Town, South Africa, in December 2009 (as part of a cooperation with Teraco Data Environments) [link]
    • New Telehouse data center announced for Johannesburg, South Africa, in spring 2010 (also as a part of the cooperation with Teraco) [link]
    • New joint venture with two companies to run Telehouse Vietnam, with the data center Telehouse Hanoi to open in March 2010 [link]

    Total: 6 new data centers opened or announced.

  • CoreSite
    • Rebranded from CRG West to CoreSite in June 2009 [link]
    • Expansion of data center in Chicago, Illinois USA, completed in June 2009 (20,000 sq. f./1,850 sq. m.) [link]
    • New data center announced for Santa Clara, California USA, to open in Q1 2010 (50,000 sq. f./4,600 sq. m.) [link]

    Total: 1 new data center announced & 1 data center expanded.

  • Telx
    • Expansion of data center in New York, USA, to open in February 2009 (14,000 sq. f./1,300 sq. m.) [link]
    • New data center opened in Clifton, New Jersey USA, in April 2009 [link]
    • Secured $45.5 million in financing in June 2009 [link]
    • Alliance announced with Tata Communications to offer colocation in each others facilities for expanded footprint [link]
    • Expansion of data center in Chicago, Illinois USA, opened in August 2009 (10,000 sq. f./930 sq. m.) [link]
    • Expansion of data center in Phoenix, Arizona USA, opened in September 2009 [link]
    • Expansion of data center in Los Angeles, California USA, opened in October 2009 [link]
    • Expansion of data center in Atlanta, Georgia USA, opened in December 2009 [link]

    Total: 1 new data center opened, 5 data centers expanded & global footprint expanded via new alliance.

  • TelecityGroup
    • New data center opened in Milan, Italy, in April 2009 (2,300 sq. m./24,750 sq. f.) [link]
    • New data center opened in Stockholm, Sweden, in April 2009 (2,800 sq. m./30,100 sq. f.) [link]
    • Expansion of data center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, completed in November 2009 (2,400 sq. m./25,800 sq. f.) [link]
    • New Condorcet data center opened in Paris, France, in January 2010 (3,400 sq. m./36,600 sq. f.) [link]

    Total: 3 new data centers opened & 1 data center expanded.

  • Global Switch
    • No announcements

For more research about new data centers and expansions in the various markets, have a look at the regional markets channel at Data Center Knowledge that covers some of they key markets around the world.

Comparison Chart

More interesting, I have compiled an overview of the providers below with details about their data center footprint and a summary of the expansions mentioned above. Focus of the comparison should be kept on markets served by the providers, rather than the total number of data centers or total capacity in square feet/square meters, as this is the most relevant benchmarking factor.

The primary reason for the number of data centers not being a relevant factor, is that the providers mentioned have data centers varying in size from 5,000~ square feet to several hundreds of thousands of square feet. The total capacity in square feet would of course be a relevant benchmarking factor, but the problem with this method is that some of the providers are not listing the sizes of their facilities, others are not keeping their data up to date as they expand and in general it is not clear what the data from the providers represents. Some limit the data to actual usable data center floor space (which would be most relevant), while others include office/storage space etc. and space available for future data center expansions.

Equinix Telehouse CoreSite Telx Interxion Telecity Global Switch
Founded: 1998 1990 2001 2000 1998 1998 1998
Company type: Public Public Private Private Private Public Private
Symbol/owner: NASDAQ:EQIX TYO:9433 Carlyle GI Partners Baker Capital LON:TCY Reuben Brothers
Revenue H1 2009: $508.9m €82.9m £82.2m
EBITDA H1 2009: $226.2m €29.8m £29.4m
-
Data centers: 79 47 10 15 26 23 9
Capacity (sq. f.): 6,100,000+ 750,000+ 2,000,000+ Unknown 590,000+ 620,000+ 2,790,000+
2009 New DC’s: 8 6 1 1 4 3 0
2009 Expansions 3 0 1 5 4 1 0
-
Countries served: 10 11 1 1 11 7 7
Markets served: 34 24 7 11 13 8 7
- Europe: 8 2 0 0 13 8 5
- North America: 22 2 0 0 0 0 5
- Asia-Pacific: 4 18 0 0 0 0 2
- Africa: 0 2 0 0 0 0 0

The data has been gathered from various sources, primarily corporate websites and Wikipedia, and its accuracy therefore can not be guaranteed. If you have any corrections, please feel free to contact me.
Equinix data are combined with S&D data and the Telehouse data are partly based on the entire KDDI Corporation.

Industry Changing Deal

Looking back at 2009, the most significant change among the large colocation providers is without any doubt the blockbuster announcement from Equinix about their intention to acquire their US competitor Switch & Data (NASDAQ:SXDC).
The acquisition increases the capacity of Equinix with 34 data centers (1,1 million square feet) in 22 different markets, of which Equinix did not have presence in 16 of the markets prior to the acquisition.

Apart from the extra capacity in existing markets and the new markets this brought Equinix in to, a more interesting perspective was that this move prevented overseas competitors from acquiring Switch & Data and thereby easily gaining a large market share in the US and competing with Equinix on their home turf. Since Equinix entered the European market in 2007, by acquiring IXEurope and their 14 data centers across 4 countries followed by an acquisition of Dutch Virtu and their 3 data centers in 2008, other continental providers have been put under pressure by Equinix very wide global coverage which have led to speculation of other acquisitions or mergers as a countermove to Equinix.

Continental competitors put under by Equinix expansion to the European market included Switch & Data in the US, prior to Equinix acquiring them, and the large European colocation provider Interxion. These two companies announced a strategic alliance in 2008 as a response to the growing dominance of Equinix, to be able to serve clients in both Europe and North America. This obviously made it an interesting thought that Interxion and Switch & Data might be a good fit as a countermove to Equinix, and since the S&D acquisition some interesting information has come out in relation to this.

Two options for Switch & Data
From a filing made to the SEC, it is disclosed that Switch & Data was approached in January 2009 by a privately held company from outside the US about a possible merger of the two companies, prior to them being contacted by Equinix in April. According to the SEC filing the two companies discussed merging their businesses under the Switch & Data brand, but after analysis and meetings the S&D board of directors entered an exclusivity agreement with Equinix in September as they concluded that the Equinix deal would most likely bring most value to the stockholders.

So who was this privately held company from outside the US that wanted to merge with Switch & Data? Rumours say Interxion, who is privately held, already had a strategic cooperation with Switch & Data and with their presence limited to Europe was threatened by the global coverage of Equinix. Furthermore Interxion has made attempts to make more awareness of their brand on the US market, for example by sponsoring US events such as “Hosting Transformation Summit North America” and “Datacenter Transformation Summit “.

There are few others than Interxion that would have been a great fit for a merger with Switch & Data, the first ones that pop up are KDDI’s Telehouse and TelecityGroup but none of these companies are privately held which rules them out. Adding to that there has been rumours since 2008 that Interxion was preparing for an IPO, which might have been postponed if they were hoping for a merger with Switch & Data instead.

What is next?
It will be interesting to see if we are going to see the long expected countermove to Equinix in 2010, as they currently have a very dominating position on the global market. Interxion is still the most likely candidate for such a move looking from the European perspective, although TelecityGroup should not be completely ruled out, while a suiting candidate seen from the US perspective might be Telx or CoreSite. Both are privately held companies owned by US investment firms, with businesses in both North America and Europe under management.

CoreSite has been active the last year with rebranding from CRG West and multiple expansions, and their product portfolio seems easily integratable with Interxions. CoreSite currently only has US coverage, while Telx has a strategic alliance with Tata Communications that enable them to provide services globally already – although that might also be a sign that they are more interested in foreign markets and thereby also a match for a European provider such as Interxion.

Looking more globally KDDI has also been working on optimizing their colocation business under the Telehouse brand, by expanding to multiple new markets that the other large providers do not seem to focus on. The presence of Telehouse in the United States is limited to New York and Los Angeles, so further capacity through acquisition in the US would definitely also be a great fit for Telehouse. However, Telehouse currently seem to operate their various regional companies very independently and in different ways, without doing much to market Telehouse as one global brand with worldwide carrier neutral colocation space. The strategy for the various markets also seem very different, for example Telehouse Vietnam is a joint venture with two other companies while their entrance to the market in South Africa is based on cooperation with a local data center provider rather than establishing their own data center(s).

Going back to CoreSite, a more suitable match might be a company such as Global Switch when looking at the kind of facilities the two companies operate. Global Switch might also be a good match with the privately held provider 365 Main, who is not included above but manages about 1 million square feet in 6 US data centers. Unfortunately there has not been much activity involving Global Switch lately, although they own and operate some large and important property in central European markets and have presence in the foreign Asian markets, so it is hard to say much about them. Asia is a very important region that is growing fast right now though, so it must not be forgotten in the middle of all these Europe/North America speculations. With the huge growth of Internet usage in Asia demand for carrier neutral colocation there is growing fast, which may lead to totally different names coming in to play when we are talking about future mergers and acquisitions.

Conclusion

There is not much of a conclusion to draw – but to sum it up 2009 has been a very exciting year for the carrier neutral colocation industry, and we have seen more of some providers than others. Equinix has of course been dominating as the global market leader they are, followed by a lot of buzz about Interxion, while we have not heard anything at all from a company such as Global Switch.
It is easy to make speculation, but keep in mind that I am no analyst so the theories above are based on the limited information I have about the mentioned providers. One thing is for sure though, when thinking 2010 and ahead it is definitely going to be interesting to see how things will develop. If Equinix is going to have some real global competition we need to see some kind of change, for example in the form of a merger between two of the other large providers.

Other names to watch
For analysts etc. who are doing research on data center providers of colocation and wholesale space, there are a lot of other names that are worth looking in to as well. Apart from the providers with focus on carrier neutral colocation there are other segments such as providers with focus on wholesale space, carrier driven data centers and data center providers focussing on managed services. An overview of some of the most relevant larger names can be found below:

  • Wholesale providers: Digital Realty Trust, duPont Fabros Technologies, Sabey Corporation
  • Managed service providers: Savvis, NaviSite, Terremark, SunGard Availability Services, Peak 10, ViaWest, PEER 1, Reliance Data Center, Datapipe
  • Network carriers: Level 3, Internap, Cogent, Interoute, tw telecom, XO Communications, Tata Communications, AT&T, NTT Communications, Telia, Global Crossing, T-Systems

Adding more confusion to the speculation above, there might also be the option that one of these providers sell their colocation business to keep focus on their carrier business or managed services. For example NaviSite has been actively looking to sell their colocation business [link].

For more general information about the financial performance of the colocation sector in 2009, have a look at this post from Telecom Ramblings and this post at Data Center Knowledge.

February 7, 2010
8 Comments
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8 Comments on State of the Colocation Industry

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  1. Vincent Rais says:

    hi Sune, in your table you claim that both Interxion and TeleCity operate data centers in the US -both have all of their DCs in Europe ;) -great article, thanks

  2. Hi Vincent, thanks for the kind words and for catching the mistake :) it has been corrected now.

  3. Ari Hakala says:

    Hi Sine,

    Thanks for the article, very interesting!

    I was just wondering if you have a view on the developments in the data centre market 2010/2011. How much new data centre space in sq.f could we expect to see in Europe and US?

    Thanks again.

  4. Unfortunately we do not do any research on such data right now at Data Center Map, but if you follow the @datacentermap Twitter profile we regularly post links to news and research regarding changes in supply and demand. Here are some examples of relevant posts:

    Grubb & Ellis: More growth yet to come in US colocation market
    http://tinyurl.com/yez7p8g

    CBRE (CB Richard Ellis): European data center markets on the up-swing
    http://tinyurl.com/y8tfyzh

    Gartner: Economy Boosts Colo, But Many Prefer to Build
    http://tinyurl.com/yakydnu

    IDC: Survey forecasts 23% annual growth in colocation demand for key markets in Europe
    http://tinyurl.com/yzn4j5z

    Grubb & Ellis: Demand for data center space in the US outpaces supply threefold
    http://tinyurl.com/yzywbz7

    TeleGeography: New Colocation Space Fills Quickly
    http://tinyurl.com/ycu8vdt

    I hope this was of help to you.

  5. Corporate Colocation has added 10,000 Sq Feet of new data center space at 530 West 6th Street in Los Angeles.

    Currently running Air Side Economizing with 70% Reduction in cooling cost.

  6. Mark says:

    Rumor has it Telx is going public this year.

  7. [...] the stuff that has been going on lately I thought it might be a good idea with a follow up. In the 2009 roundup from February, I noted that Telehouse seemed to use a different strategy than the other global [...]

  8. Quora says:

    Which company has the largest data center capacity?…

    I am not an expert on this topic at all. I’m going to collect some links from around the web in my answer in hopes that someone with more expertise will come by and provide a more succinct and correct answer.

    I assume that the question is about aggre…

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