Colocation provider Evoque Data Center Solutions says it is expanding into the market for hyperscale computing, offering built-to-suit data centers backed by green energy, which could include on-site renewable power.
The new initiative taps the substantial resources of Evoque’s backers, Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP), whose global investment portfolio includes renewable energy companies and a large real estate portfolio.
The entry into the build-to-suit market is an expansion of Evoque’s business model, which has focused on colocation services and cloud consulting. The company was formed by Brookfield in late 2018 after it acquired a portfolio of data centers from AT&T for $1.1 billion.
As a colocation provider, Evoque has worked with enterprise customers who lease IT capacity in cabinets or cages. With its built-to-suit program, Evoque is now seeking to create entire data center buildings. The built-to-suit market focuses on larger users, especially hyperscale operators such as cloud computing platforms and social networks.
The strategy shift at Evoque also highlights the intersection between energy and data growth, a trend Data Center Frontier highlighted in our 2022 forecast. “As we enter 2022, the intersection of data center energy will enter a new phase, driven by demand for renewably-powered data centers and the deep pockets of global investors,” we wrote in Eight Trends that Will Shape the Data Center Sector in 2022.
On-Site Energy as a Sustainability Strategy
The build-to-suit initiative was outlined this week in a blog post by Kevin Fleming, Evoque’s Senior Director of Communications, who highlighted powered shell solutions as “an increasingly attractive alternative” to traditional colocation.
“Build-to-suit data centers can take advantage of the very latest in renewable energy and sustainability practices,” Fleming writes. “An efficient facility equipped with AI-powered DCIM capabilities can also be designed to incorporate behind-the-meter, carbon neutral solutions that generate renewable energy on-site to lower the data center’s dependency on fossil fuel energy.”
The strategy signals growing ambitions in the digital infrastructure sector for Brookfield. BIP is an infrastructure fund that seeks returns over a long asset life in sectors like utilities, transportation and energy. It is among the large global investors investing billions of dollars in digital infrastructure to help meet the demand for cloud computing services.
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners sees data growth as one of the most promising opportunities for investors. In addition to its ownership of Evoque, Brookfield has teamed with Digital Realty on joint ventures to develop properties in Brazil and India, and also owns an equity stake in Australian operator DCI Data Centers.
Focus on Green Powered Shells
The hyperscale market is a fast-growing sector that has seen demand for data center capacity accelerate during the COVID-19 pandemic, which hastened the shift to digital services in business, education and entertainment.
Evoque is leading with sustainability, a key focus for hyperscale operators and an area where infrastructure funds like BIP can bring new capabilities to the game. Evoque said it will work closely with Brookfield Energy Partners, which operates a global portfolio of hydroelectric, wind, solar and energy storage facilities.
In its blog post, Evoque said it is “going to market with our green powered shell build-to-suit offering.” A powered shell is a building delivered with undeveloped space, with the power and fiber connectivity already in place. This approach allows the tenant to customize the interior of the facility to their specific needs, and is a popular approach for some hyperscale data center users.
“Making these powered shell projects as sustainable as possible was one of our primary goals in developing the service,” Fleming wrote.
Evoque’s build-to-suit program says it will leverage a global land bank to offer a range of development options for data centers, including flexible financial options and the ability to include a power purchase agreement (PPA) to secure renewable energy for the facility.
Sustainability Focus, and a Cloud-Focused CFO
At Data Center Frontier we’ve been tracking the growing crossover between the digital infrastructure and energy sectors, which has accelerated as data centers have become larger players in power markets. In 2021, the top cloud computing companies accounted for more than half of all corporate clean energy power purchase agreements (PPAs).
Supporting data centers with solar, wind and hydro power can leverage the growing role of hyperscale computing in our world, including the need to combat climate change while providing a growing menu of essential services. Last fall Yondr Group said it will develop renewable energy projects to support its data center campuses, a move that will help its customers reduce their environmental impact.
In its 2021 annual report, BIP said it is also investing in a data center construction project in the Netherlands with a planned capacity of approximately 100MW. “The project is expected to be the most sustainable data center in Amsterdam; using exclusively renewable power and recycling the waste heat produced by operations,” Brookfield said.
That seems to align with Evoque’s expanded focus, which continues the evolution of the business seen in last year’s acquisition of Foghorn Consulting, part of an “application-first” strategy to help guide enterprise customers as they navigate the growing options for IT infrastructure deployment.
Evoque recently hired Khozem Lokhandwala as its Chief Financial Officer, who joins the company after a 17-year tenure at Amazon, where he served as Global Vice President, Data Center Planning and Delivery for Amazon Web Services (AWS). In that role, he was responsible for AWS data center development, including power, real estate, construction, and vendor-owned colocation facilities.
“Khozem’s knowledge and experience in the industry provides us with a competitive advantage, fueling our evolution and growth,” said Andy Stewart, Evoque’s Chief Executive Officer. “His background across multiple disciplines and his specific experience in the data center sector will improve our ability to disrupt the status quo and deliver market-leading capabilities to our clients and prospects.
“This includes furthering our strategic progress of incorporating renewable energy solutions into our portfolio and accelerating the growth of our cloud consulting business, which we initiated last year with our purchase of Foghorn Consulting,” said Stewart.