Microsoft announces new data centre region near Atlanta
Microsoft announced on Thursday the creation of a new cloud region for its Azure services in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
In response to “growing customer demand”, Microsoft has said it will establish the data centre region in two counties in the Atlanta area: Douglas and Fulton counties.
The move builds upon the company’s ongoing expansion into the US southwest - with its Arizona data centre region expected to reach completion later this year.
Details of the project, including the scale of the facilities, their locations, how many data centres are planned, and Microsoft’s timeline for completion, are all being kept tightly under wraps for now. However, we can make a few educated guesses.
Microsoft’s Arizona data centre region was originally announced in September of last year, and Microsoft has said it plans to bring the project online in 2021. So, we can probably assume a similar timeline for East US 3, meaning it should spin up some time in early 2022.
Location and Facilities
Fulton and Douglas counties have been earmarked as the general location for the new region, but further details about site selection have not been made available. However, if we look once again at Microsoft’s Arizona project, we see that it also spanned two main locations, Goodyear and El Mirage. The region comprised three data centres facilities and employed around 1,000 construction workers, during the build process.
If we assume Microsoft - much like other hyperscalers - sticks to a rough template for its projects (last year, Facebook’s involvement in a massive build in the Netherlands was revealed due to the shape of a proposed access road and its similarity to those in the company’s existing facilities) then it’s plausible to suggest that East US 3 will comprise three data centres.
As for their proposed locations, various glowing testimonials from local mayors might help narrow that down. Alongside its press release, Microsoft trotted out Rochelle Robinson, Mayor of Douglasville, Clark Boddie, Mayor of Palmetto, and Deana Holiday Ingraham, Mayor of East Point to say things like “We’re honored to have Microsoft in Douglasville,” and “Having a brand name like Microsoft locate in our city speaks to the quality of our community.”
The likelihood that the region will comprise three data centres, combined with the direct involvement of the mayors of three towns within Fulton and Douglas counties, points to the data centres being located in East Point, Douglasville and Palmetto.
Also this week, Microsoft announced the purchase of a parcel of land in the Atlanta metro area. The 90 acre stretch expands upon the company existing presence at Atlantic Yards (the offices there are expected to be finished this year) with the addition of a future campus at Quarry Yards and Quarry Hills.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, said in a blog post that “Our biggest question today is not what Atlanta can do to support Microsoft. It’s what Microsoft can do to support Atlanta. And we know it will take a conversation with the entire community to find the answer.”
Equinix: Digital leaders expect changes to working patterns
A global report released by Equinix has revealed that digital leaders expect long-term changes to the way people work.
As part of the report, the data infrastructure company surveyed 2,600 IT decision-makers from several different businesses spanning 26 countries in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and EMEA regions. The study also highlighted the biggest technology trends affecting global businesses and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted digital infrastructure plans.
Talking about companies’ expansion strategies, Claire Macland, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Equinix, said: “Many companies are now investing more in their digital infrastructure to enable them to embrace a hybrid working model and thrive in the new world of work we all find ourselves in.
“Despite headwinds in many sectors, many organizations are continuing to expand physically and virtually into new markets and regions around the world”, she said.
The report drew the following conclusions:
- 64% of the 2,600 digital leaders surveyed believed there will be “long-term changes to both how and where people will work in the future.
- 57% of global companies intend to expand into new regions despite the effects of the pandemic
- 51% of businesses worldwide say they have rearchitected their IT infrastructure so that it can meet the demands of remote and hybrid working. Digital transformation has also been accelerated due to an increase in businesses’ technology budgets.
How might digital transformation be affected post-pandemic?
COVID-19 has demanded that companies make several changes to the way that they operate, including digital transformation. According to the study, 47% of those surveyed reported that they have accelerated their digital transformation plans because of the Coronavirus pandemic. A further 42% of organisations said their budgets have increased to keep up with the growth of digital transformation.
Another change in adapting to the pandemic was to businesses’ IT strategies with six in 10 companies saying that it has been revised in response to the situation. 58% said they are looking to invest in technology to “improve agility’ post-COVID.
When asked about their priorities for their digital strategy, 80% of respondents said that digitising their infrastructure was of utmost importance, while 57% viewed interconnection as a ‘key facilitator’ of digital transformation.
"This increasing focus on digitization and expansion is one of the reasons why Equinix has continued to invest in its own growth. We completed 16 new expansions in 2020—our most active build year ever—and expect to continue to evolve Platform Equinix to support our customers as they continue on their digital transformation journey”, said Claire Macland.
Potential concerns disperse over expansion plans being halted by COVID-19
The study has also revealed that organisations’ previous concerns that the pandemic will negatively affect their business expansion plans have been lessened.
57% of businesses have said that they “still have plans” to expand into new regions and of that percentage, nearly two-thirds (63%) plan to do so virtually instead of investing in physical IT infrastructure.
The full Equinix report can be found here.