Once a rural location outside of DC, Northern Virginia has blossomed into the world’s data center capital. According to Cushman & Wakefield’s 2022 rankings of the Top 10 Data Center markets in the world, Northern Virginia is at the top. The second and third rankings are ties, with Silicon Valley and Singapore tied for second and Chicago and Atlanta tied for third.
Cushman & Wakefield’s 2022 report predicts Northern Virginia will soon be the world’s first two-gigawatt data center market. What does that mean? Think of it as two billion watts, which is enough energy to perpetually power 1.5 million homes.
Northern Virginia is number 1 for internet data
A major reason Northern Virginia is so appealing is that the internet was born there through an Advanced Research Projects Agency (modern day DARPA) ARPANET project. Vinton (Vint) Cerf and Robert Kahn, both residents of Northern Virginia, worked on the project together and designed the TCP/IP protocols and the internet architecture. As a result, the backbone and fiber were in place and as more customers come to Northern Virginia more fiber is placed allowing for more networks. This in turn has 70% of Internet traffic flowing through Northern Virginia.
How did this happen? As a result of the ARPANET project, Metropolitan Area Exchange, East (MAE-East) brought in one of the earliest Internet Exchange Points to the Eastern seaboard. Thus, transforming Northern Virginia into first Dulles Technology Corridor and now better known as Data Center Alley, thanks to the cluster of data centers, businesses, and government agencies dotting the skyline.
Aside from the Internet’s birthplace, why is Northern Virginia so attractive?
According to Buddy Rizer CEcD, Executive Director of Economic Development, Loudoun County, Northern Virginia is so attractive because of the fiber network, available land, water access and ample reliable power. To add to this, Buddy worked with Virginia state legislature to create best-in-class incentives.
In addition to all of this, Northern Virginia boast the who’s who of the tech world. A short trip through Data Center Alley will result in seeing the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Meta, just to name a few.
Loudoun County Power Shortage
In July this year Dominion Energy, the Virginia power utility which services Data Center Alley, announced they wouldn’t be able to provide expected power to some new data center projects in Ashburn and eastern Loudoun County as a result of not being able to distribute over high-voltage power lines to Ashburn. This issue has the potential to significantly impact data center construction planned for 2023/2024 as Dominion initially stated they would have to halt power for new data center projects until 2025/2026.
While Dominion is making progress on reducing the constraints through the deployment of new substations, data center customers are turning their attention to other locations in Northern Virginia. Prince William County, a neighboring county to Loudoun County where Ashburn is located, is starting to see an increase in data centers.
Recently Prince William County announced the development of Prince William Digital Gateway, their solution to meeting the rising data center demands. This area covers 2,139 acres and will increase the county’s data center footprint from the current 17.5 million square feet located in other parts of the county.
What Northern Virginia means to E2 Optics
For more than 10 years, E2 Optics has been the trusted low voltage provider in Northern Virginia to the world’s largest cloud and hyperscale providers. Our presence in the Northern Virginia market has continuously grown over our time here.
For E2, the Northern Virginia market sees us serving customers in the cloud/hyperscale space, along with starting to branch out to other commercial and healthcare construction customers. Our portfolio of projects continues to grow, allowing us to provide not just a job but a career for our employees.
More than just another job
For those looking to work in the trades, E2 Optics offers not just another job but a career. We offer industry leading training, not just at entry level but throughout an employee’s tenure. At our Northern Virginia location, we have dedicated field trainers to help our field staff grow and develop their careers.
From safety training to OSHA certification to industry courses, field staff who start with E2 Optics often see themselves on a career path. On average, an entry level technician with E2 Optics can advance to a management track within 18 to 24 months.
Training does not stop after you are onboarded. For E2, we want to ensure our field staff are up to date with the latest certifications and training in our industry. We have established a program which provides everyone the opportunity to continue on their career path with training at one of our training centers, in-the-field training, one-on-ones with management, along with quarterly meetings with project management to keep everyone on the same page.
As hyperscale providers continue to expand in the Northern Virginia market, you will see E2 Optics continuing to be the low voltage provider of choice. We will continue to seek local talent and provide them with not just another job but a career path. The next 12 to 24 months show substantial growth for us in the Northern Virginia market.
To learn more about career opportunities at E2 Optics, please click here.