Flexential Touts 110 MW Uplift for Atlanta, Hillsboro Data Center Markets

Aug. 1, 2023
The announcement of new data center builds in key markets comes in counterpoint to a recent enhancement of the company's national interconnection capabilities, and the release of its inaugural ESG report.

Colocation and hybrid cloud provider Flexential this month announced plans to significantly expand data center capacity across its U.S. footprint over the rest of this year, bringing the company's nationwide FlexAnywhere platform up to a total of 41 data centers in 19 markets.

The expansion includes construction of a new 36 MW phased development at Flexential's Atlanta-Douglasville campus in Georgia, adding a new facility to the campus. The new construction bolsters an initial 22.5 MW project announced in the fourth quarter of 2022; the company said the first phases of that 22.5MW facility will be available for customers this year.

Flexential has had a presence in Atlanta for over two decades, operating three interconnected data centers within three different business regions, which the planned Atlanta-Douglasville expansion will complement.

The company notes the highly-connected Atlanta metro area is home to a plethora of health, IT, telecom, and internet security companies. An attractive destination for mission critical enterprise workloads, in addition to Flexential, the city includes data centers from QTS, Equinix, H5 Data Centers, Telx, CoreSite, Cyxtera, DataBank and others.

Hillsboro 4 and 5

Concurrently, Flexential announced that by fall of 2023, it aims to complete the first phase of its new Hillsboro 4 facility in Portland, Oregon. The company also outlined plans to break ground for yet a fifth facility on the campus. By adding two new data centers to the Hillsboro market, the company said this expansion supports its stated goal to grow its FlexAnywhere platform capacity by an additional 54 MW in Oregon.

In Portland, the new Hillsboro 4 and 5 development projects are strategically located adjacent to Flexential's largest development to date, its 36 MW Hillsboro 3 data center. The first phase of Hillsboro 4 is on track to be available for customers by fall of 2023. Planning for Hillsboro 5, also a 36 MW development, is reportedly underway.

The new Hillsboro facilities will offer direct connections to Flexential's Network Access Point (NAP) of the Northwest, a key global interconnection hub which houses the New Cross Pacific and Hawaiki submarine cables and leading international carriers. As a prime geographic gateway to the Asia Pacific region that is home to major semiconductor, AI and retail companies, Portland also offers notable business tax incentives "and is becoming the de facto alternative to Northern California," as reckoned by Flexential.

The company said the Hillsboro expansion projects will meet and exceed the growth objectives of both its colocation and "scale" customers, delivering 54 MW at full build as part of one of the largest-scale data center footprints in Oregon, while offering access to over 110MW of actively deployed capacity in the market.

Writing in a recent DCF 'Voices of the Industry' article reviewing the benefits of secondary data center markets, Flexential Regional Vice President Bill Cory affirmed:

"Hillsboro has become a hot spot for data center deployments, offering a cost-effective alternative to Silicon Valley and other expensive West Coast locations. Home to major multi-national organizations such as Intel, Nike and Columbia, the region offers proximity to Silicon Valley, low-latency connectivity to West Coast cloud deployments—including Microsoft Azure’s northwest deployment, Google Cloud and Amazon’s West 2—and also provides access to subsea cables connecting the West Coast to Asia and beyond. Flexential is expanding its presence in this high-impact market with its upcoming fifth deployment to meet the area’s explosive demand."

The new Atlanta and Hillsboro projects are the latest in a series of expansions and growth for Flexential, the fruit of its raising $2.1 billion at the outset of 2022 through an offering of asset-backed securities. At that time, the company said the funding “dramatically improves [its] investment grade credit profile, lowers the cost of capital, and allows Flexential to deploy greater data center capacity to meet accelerating demands in new and existing markets.”

"In addition to the new projects in Atlanta and Hillsboro, we are actively developing additional capacity options in Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas and Tampa in 2023," commented Chris Downie, CEO of Flexential. "We are excited to enable our customers to rapidly scale their IT infrastructure across our national FlexAnywhere platform of 41 data centers. Today's expansion further supports customers in solving their most complex hybrid IT infrastructure requirements."

Sustainability a core focus

In its inaugural 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report, released in June, Flexential highlighted its commitment and accomplishments toward integrating ESG into all aspects and levels of its business. The company added that it initiated construction of the new data centers in Atlanta-Douglasville and Hillsboro while keeping sustainability at its core of operations via its latest Gen 5 design.

The company said its fifth generation platform offers a design power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.4, below the estimated industry average of 1.55 PUE (per Uptime Institute), and a design water usage effectiveness (WUE) of zero, as required to qualify for funding under Flexential's Green Finance Framework.

Additionally, Flexential claims its fifth generation design is optimized to support the rapidly growing power and density requirements of AI and GPU-driven high performance compute deployments.

In June, the company also annouced that it has signed on to the iMasons Climate Accord, a coalition united around the challenge of carbon reduction in digital infrastructure, with a mandate to achieve global carbon accounting of such infrastructure, the better to influence market-based decisions while driving the industry to achieve sustainable carbon neutrality.

According to the iMasons Climate Accord, data centers currently account for around 2.4% of today’s global energy consumption. A recent DCF 'Voices of the Industry' article penned by ZincFive co-founder and CEO Tim Hysell further notes how in the US market alone, data center demand — measured by power consumption to reflect the number of servers a data center can house — is expected to reach 35 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, up from 17 GW in 2022.

Hysell added:

"Although scope 3 emissions form the vast majority of many organizations’ carbon footprints, they’re also the most difficult to track. As a result, many organizations have been hesitant to disclose this category of emissions. However, investor pressure to disclose scope 3 emissions is growing, and as companies look to reduce their emissions, data centers are increasingly under the microscope as an opportunity for impactful reductions, considering they are one of the most energy-intensive components of their customer’s supply chains."

New national interconnection options

Flexential contends that its secure, private, national 100 Gbps network backbone positions the company as a strategic partner on better response times for its customers, improving reliability of access to public cloud providers, while giving end users better performance and reduced single points of failure on the network.

Geared to significantly cut the complexity of deploying hybrid IT, the existing Flexential Cloud Fabric offers direct, low-latency connections to cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, Google, and most recently Oracle Cloud..

This May, the company further enhanced its interconnection capabilities with the announcement of its 40Gbps IP Bandwidth option. Flexential said the new capability helps customers "easily meet the rigorous demands of application performance, scale and low latency without having to purchase any new hardware."

Now available to all existing and new data center customers, Flexential said the IP Bandwidth enhancement additionally offers comprehensive Distributed Denial of Service vigilance to protect network infrastructure from the growing trend of attacks on direct Internet connections. The 24x7 service monitors customer connections for threats, automatically redirecting attacks by scrubbing and discarding malicious packets while returning only clean traffic.

The case of Intelerad

Flexential reported that customers such as Intelerad, a global provider of enterprise medical imaging platforms, are already seeing the benefits of its 40Gbps IP Bandwidth capability.

Supporting more than 2,500 healthcare organizations worldwide, downtime is simply not an option for Intelerad. Meanwhile, organic sales growth and the acquisition of seven companies in less than three years intensified the company's IT needs.

This required Intelerad to expand its existing Flexential colocation presences in Atlanta, Nashville and Denver, introducing new facilities near its newly acquired customers to limit latency. Intelerad said it achieved rapid, high-availability connectivity by leveraging the full Flexential FlexAnywhere blueprint for improving network performance and interconnection.

"We believe interconnection is a vital component of our customers' success, and we are building our capabilities to make it easy for customers to achieve higher speeds and accelerate their digital transformation initiatives," said Flexential CEO Downie.

L3VPN multipoint service option

Last year, Flexential launched its Interconnection Mesh platform. Billed as allowing companies to create an any-to-any connection to give their network backbone "a cloud-like feel," the platform enables streamlined connectivity for data center interconnections.

At launch, Flexential noted that via Interconnection Mesh, customers could easily expand to new sites by simply adding ports to gain an instant connection to the rest of the mesh. Now, the company says its Layer 3 VPN (L3VPN) multipoint service option further simplifies colocation to cloud connections across the platform.

Launched in June, the company said the L3VPN multipoint option assists tenants in scaling infrastructure by providing secure routed connections between sites, removing the need for customers to orchestrate direct connections or hire additional network engineering staff.

Available now across all markets, Flexential said the new capability complements its national 100Gbps backbone by allowing for any-to-any dynamic connections to customer deployments, with access to the FlexAnywhere platform's ecosystem of carriers, cloud providers and subsea network transport options.

The company added that the L3VPN multipoint service option assists with scaling routing infrastructure by connecting all customer environments over a highly secure, encrypted routed connection, solving for the complexities of Layer 2 transport connectivity - sometimes a hurdle in large-scale deployments.

In sum, Flexential said the L3VPN multipoint service option serves as a bridge between sites, as it streamlines the interconnection of workloads, clouds, users, and partners to accelerate customers' ability to scale their level of business connectivity sans added complexity.

"Customers increasingly turn toward hybrid deployments, including public and private clouds, which often connect very different networking technologies," remarked Ryan Mallory, COO of Flexential. "The expansion of Interconnection Mesh to include a Layer 3 transport option helps to mitigate challenges when connecting different workloads in a controlled, scalable way." 

About the Author

Matt Vincent

A B2B technology journalist and editor with more than two decades of experience, Matt Vincent is Editor in Chief of Data Center Frontier.

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