The Top 10 Data Centre Real Estate Companies

By Harry Menear
From hyperscale operators to REITs, these are the biggest firms currently investing in the data centre real estate market...

The world runs on data. The combined effects of 5G adoption, expansion of the Internet of Things, and a global pandemic have seen global data traffic soar over the past 12 months, and the demand for cloud services has responded accordingly. The data centre industry has been one of the lucky few to benefit from the COVID-19 crisis, elevating an already stratospheric growth trajectory. In addition to the managed services, software, construction and hardware infrastructure industries associated with the data centre market, real estate (one of the largest expenses associated with a data centre, along with cooling and power) has reaped the rewards. 

This month, Data Centre Magazine is bringing you our list featuring the Top 10 Data Centre Real Estate Companies. 

10: Iron Mountain...

Go back a few years and you wouldn’t have seen Iron Mountain on any lists demarking the most significant players in the data centre space. The Boston-based firm started out as a secure storage provider, handling sensitive documents, pieces of art and medical supplies for governments and the Fortune 500. It still uses its international network of secure sites for that purpose, but in the last few years has cleverly identified data centres as a complementary area of investment. The company has quickly grown its portfolio to include 15 data centres, mostly located in the US, with three in Europe and one in Singapore. With secure storage and data centre facilities built into decommissioned mine shafts and nuclear bunkers, Iron Mountain is certainly one of the most interesting players in the data centre real estate space. Because it doesn’t generate a significant enough portion of its profits from data centres alone, it isn’t technically a data centre real estate investment trust (REIT), but it fills a very similar role in the market. 

Market Cap: $7.6bn

Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts

CEO: William Meaney 

09: QTS Realty Trust...

With an extensive portfolio of 26 data centre facilities spanning more than 7mn square feet of owned data centre space across North America and Europe, QTS Realty Trust is one of the industry’s leading providers of colocation and enterprise data centre solutions. As of Q3 2020, QTS Realty Trust controlled $3.68bn in assets under management and provides dedicated connectivity and infrastructure services to more than 1,200 customers. QTS Realty Trust is the smallest of the US’ five major REITs

Market Cap: $3.8bn

Headquarters: Overland Park, Kansas

CEO: Chad Williams

08: Interxion Holding...

Acquired in October of 2019 as part of an $8.4bn transaction, Interxion is the European arm of Digital Realty. The company operates over 50 data centre facilities throughout 11 European countries and its clients have access to Digital Realty’s portfolio of more than 280 data centres worldwide. The company uses its large scale portfolio of multiple sites to provide carrier-neutral colocation services, connecting its customers to more than 400 individual carriers and ISPs, as well as 18 internet exchanges throughout Europe. 

Market Cap: NA

Headquarters: Amsterdam, Netherlands

CEO: David C. Ruberg

07: CoreSite Realty...

One of a small cadre of real estate investment trusts directly focused on handling data centre infrastructure investments, CoreSite was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Denver Colorado. The company invests, owns and operates 24 data centres across eight markets in the United States, including Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Silicon Valley and global data centre hotspot Northern Virginia. Combined, CoreSite’s data centre portfolio represents more than 4.6mn net rentable square feet. Majority owner, the Carlyle Group, announced further sold down its majority holdings in CoreSite in August of 2020. 

Market Cap: $5.36bn

Headquarters: Denver, Colorado

CEO: Paul E. Szurek

06: Brookfield...

One of the world’s largest asset management firms, Brookfield has been a dominant player in the digital infrastructure space for over a decade. The company’s CEO Sam Pollock said back in 2017 that "data is the fastest-growing commodity in the world, with global usage growing exponentially, which requires massive investment in networks.” Brookfield has spent the years since investing heavily in the data centre space, notably securing the $1.1bn purchase of AT&T’s colocation business through its subsidiary Evoque. Across its infrastructure portfolio, which also includes investments in transport, energy and utilities, Brookfield commands more than $91bn in assets. The company has investments in 52 data centres, as well as 20,000km of supporting fibre infrastructure. 

Market Cap: $60.8bn

Headquarters: Toronto, Canada

CEO: Bruce Flatt

05: GDS Holdings...

As the biggest third-party data centre brand in the Chinese market, GDS Holdings has had a fantastic 2020. The country’s data centre sector is projected to grow at a CAGR of 26% over the next four years. GDS Holdings, which operates a large portfolio of Tier III+ data centres in China’s busiest markets, is poised to capitalise on the trend. At the close of Q3 2020, GDS Holdings’ data centre assets under management covered 279,618 sqm, compared with 198,097 sqm at the end of the third quarter of 2019. Over the course of its history, the company has received backing and investment from some of the leading players in the infrastructure investment space, including SoftBank, CyrusOne, STT and Ping An Insurance. 

Market Cap: $33.47bn

Headquarters: Shanghai, China

CEO: William Wei Huang

04: Switch...

Speaking of interesting real estate projects, Switch is a breed unto itself. While in many ways the Las Vegas-based firm rivals some of the biggest data centre players in the industry, Switch’s legendary tech industry CEO Rob Roy has taken the company in a very different direction. Concentrated at four megalithic campuses in the four corners of the US, Switch has built a quartet of massive, hyper-modern data centre campuses that stand alone in terms of both size and technological sophistication. Switch has even gone so far as to establish its own quality certification, Tier V Platinum, which requires its data centres to be tested on more than 30 additional criteria than the industry-leading Tier IV Gold certification from the Uptime institute. 

Market Cap: $3.79bn

Headquarters: Las Vegas, Nevada

CEO: Rob Roy 

03: CyrusOne...

Founded in 2001, CyrusOne is one of the US’ leading real estate investment trusts focused on the enterprise data centre industry. The company operates a network of more than 50 data centres across North America, Europe, Latin America and APAC. CyrusOne’s operating strategy emphasises its agile and rapid supply chain, which allows it to move from the design process to spinning up new data centres in shorter amounts of time, a strategy which has conspired to make it the third-largest data centre provider in the US market. Among the 200 Fortune 1000 companies that comprise the majority of CyrusOne's client base, Microsoft represents the company’s largest customer, accounting for more than 21% of its gross revenues in 2019. 

Market Cap: $8.46bn

Headquarters: Dallas, Texas

CEO: Bruce Duncan

02: Digital Realty Trust...

Digital Realty is one of the world’s leading data centre brands . Structured as a real estate investment trust, the San Francisco-based company operates a network of more than 280 data centres in 47 metro areas across 22 countries through its Platform Digital offering, which launched in late 2019. In March of 2020 Digital Realty completed an $8.4bn acquisition of European data centre operator Interxion, making it the region’s largest colocation company with a combined European capacity of more than 440MW. Digital Realty’s business is focused on providing facilities leasing services to hyperscale clients, but the company has also begun to move into the interconnection and colocation space to directly compete with Equinix. 

Market Cap: $37.85bn

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

CEO: Bill Stein

01: Equinix...

With more than 210 data centres in 25 countries on five continents, the Equinix brand has become synonymous with colocation and cloud based data centre services over the past two decades, representing one of the largest and fastest-growing players in the data centre real estate sector. Headquartered in Redwood City, California Equinix restructured itself as an REIT back in January 2015. Since then, the company has grown dramatically, both through acquisitions and construction projects. In October, Equinix completed a $780mn acquisition of 13 Canadian data centres from Bell, bringing its total footprint in the country to 15 facilities. Later in 2020, the company opened a string of new international business exchanges (IBX), including its first IBX in the Sultanate of Oman, its fifth facility in Singapore, and two new facilities in the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area, which together represented an investment of more than $200mn in real estate and construction. 

Market Cap: $63.49bn

Headquarters: Redwood City, California

CEO: Charles J. Meyers

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