Data Centers: A Foundational Primer
The advent of Big Data has more sharply focused attention on the development of Data Centers. Data centers are perhaps the most complex and sophisticated buildings being constructed today, requiring redundancies and resiliency well beyond other property types. Yet to many the precise function, components, users, and business models of data centers are not well known or understood. Held over two sessions, this new ULI online workshop will provide a functional introduction to the history, infrastructure, economics, and building technology that make up the modern Data Center. 
Program Information
Program Date:
February 25, 2014
Data Centers: A Foundational Primer Session 1
The program will begin by providing a brief historical background of technology infrastructure, information processing and data center real estate. What do data centers actually do, and what needs brought them into existence? This explanatory context will provide the foundation required to illustrate the dynamics that are driving the current demand for data centers. We’ll discuss the demand drivers and how these have led to different types of data center facilities. Some of these facility types have offered opportunities to real estate developers, and some haven’t. Even developers who never plan to participate in the high technology facilities market are being increasingly affected by the market forces which have led to the explosive growth and capacity of data centers and IT infrastructure. This context will help further explain and demonstrate the relative merits of various business models to different end users, and why these are changing so rapidly. 

Session Highlights
  • Brief history of IT infrastructure: creation and evolution of computing environments and interconnections
  • The function of data centers – more than a building full of servers
  • Demands of data center end users: enterprise, institution, consumer
  • Overview of data center business models: how the data center real estate market is segmented, from DC-ready sites to powered shells to turnkey solutions and beyond
  • Data center business cases: different facility types for different use sets
  • Reliability and redundancy vs cost of downtime
Speaker Information
Alan Razak   [ view bio ]
Christopher Strom   [ view bio ]
Data Centers: A Foundational Primer Session 2
The second session will begin by providing a look at the constituent parts of the data center value chain including power, the building, mechanical and electrical systems, racks, cables, servers, software, and IT services. An understanding of these components and their costs will in turn provide a basis for understanding different data center development models, tenant types, and return expectations.  The session will conclude with an overview of different data center service delivery types including: Powered Shell, Turn-key White Space, Colocation, Managed Services, Hosting and Cloud Services. We’ll discuss the different players, facilities and development models that are matched with each of these service models, and present the basics of data center real estate economics, including development costs, income, financing and capital structures and entry and exit strategies.

Session Highlights
  • Total cost of ownership (TCO) of a data center: balancing enormous first costs, reliability and operating costs
  • Overview of development models
  • Location considerations: infrastructure, latency, operating costs, labor 
  • Who owns what part of a data center?
  • Typical tenants and providers: who’s who in the data center real estate universe
  • Summary economics
  • Key development risks
  • Data Center real estate and the pace of change
Speaker Information
Alan Razak   [ view bio ]
Christopher Strom   [ view bio ]
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