Which colocation and wholesale data center operators in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex are the most digitally-savvy?

Introduction

The data center industry is growing and changing fast. And the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex is no exception.

The Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex, with an estimated 2017 population of 7.4 million, is the largest metropolitan area in Texas and the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States.

In 2016, the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex surpassed Greater Houston as the fourth most prosperous region in the country, with a 2016 real GDP of just over $511 billion -- making the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex economy the 17th largest in the world.

 

 

Colocation and Wholesale Data Centers in Rapidly Growing Areas

While the Dallas  / Fort Worth / Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area population has grown about 15% since the 2010 census (6.4 million), two counties in the region with data centers have grown significantly faster during this same time period:

  • Denton County -- CyrusOne, Digital Realty, and Vazata operate facilities in Carrollton and Lewisville (+26.20% population growth 2010-2017).
  • Collin County --  Aligned Energy, AT&T, DataBank, Equinix, Evocative, Flexential, INAP, Skybox Datacenters, T5 Data Centers, and TierPoint have facilities in Allen and Plano (+23.94% population growth 2010-2017).

During this same time period, two counties in the region with data centers have grown slower than the regional average:

  • Tarrant County -- Cyxtera Technologies, QTS Data Centers, and T5 Data Centers have data center interests in Fort Worth (+13.57% population growth 2010-2017).
  • Dallas County --  Atlantic Metro, Carrier-1 Data Centers, Cogent Communications, ColoCrossing, Cologix, CoreSpace, DataBank, Digital Realty, EdgeCore Internet Real Estate, Equinix, Flexential, Green House Data, H5 COLO, INAP, QTS Data Centers, QuadraNet, RagingWire Data Centers, Stream Data Centers, Sungard Availability Services, TierPoint, Vazata, and Zayo Group (zColo) do business in Carrollton, Dallas, Garland, Irving, and Richardson (+10.56% population growth 2010-2017).

 

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Fortune 500 Headquarters and Vertical Markets Driving Enterprise Absorption

Population growth alone doesn’t forecast the health of a data center market. Most experts point to factors such as low power costs, lots of fiber connectivity, abundant land, and a low incidence of natural disasters. Yet the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex also is home to the headquarters of 22 Fortune 500 companies, behind only New York City (63) and Chicago (34) -- both of which also have very strong data center demand.

The Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex regional economy is led by a handful of sectors that are very big consumers of data center-related services:

  • Banking
  • Energy
  • Healthcare and medical research
  • Technology and telecommunications
  • Transportation and logistics

Note: While the entire state of Texas is no stranger to claiming “largest” status in many areas, the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex has what many believe to be the largest Information Technology industry base in Texas (Silicon Prairie and the Telecom Corridor), referring to where US-75 runs through Richardson, just north of Dallas.

Another fun fact: While data centers are heavily concentrated in 4 of the region’s 13 counties, the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex, with an area of 9,286 square miles, is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

 

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Company-Specific Changes in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex

 

  • AT&T still wants to sell off its data center business including a facility in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex at 900 Venture Drive in Allen.
  • CyrusOne is building a data center campus in Allen.
  • Cyxtera Technologies closed on the purchase of data center facilities in the region formerly owned by CenturyLink: DL1 and DL2 at 14901 FAA Boulevard in Fort Worth.
  • Digital Realty is planning a new campus in Garland.
  • EdgeCore Internet Real Estate is constructing, or about to be, a data center facility on the northeast corner of Shiloh Road and Research Drive in Richardson.
  • Equinix acquired Infomart Dallas and closed on the purchase of Verizon’s data center portfolio.
  • INAP, with interests in Dallas and Plano, has acquired Chicago-based SingleHop to grow its footprint in managed hosting and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
  • RagingWire is positioning its NTT-owned business for more rapid expansion at its Garland campus.
  • Skybox Datacenters is building in Plano.
  • Stream Data Centers is building a data center on Lookout Drive in Garland.
  • T5 Data Centers is building a data center in Fort Worth, near Facebook’s mammoth Fort Worth data center.

 

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Regional Macro Factors in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex

The Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex data center market receives lots of attention from industry experts and thought leaders including analysts, journalists, and commercial real estate brokers. Here are a few highlights that seem especially relevant:

  • The Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex data center market outperformed (almost) every major data center market in the United States -- except Northern Virginia -- during the first half of 2017. (Source: CBRE)
  • The Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex data center market has an unusually diverse demand pattern, compared to other major markets -- with strong demand for build-to-suit projects, powered shell, retail colocation, and wholesale space. (Source:  Data Center Frontier)
  • The more than 20 colocation providers in the region face intense competition for every qualified deal. With attractive pricing due to this competitive environment, it’s a great time to be an enterprise data center user or a cloud service provider looking for data center space. (Source: Haynes Strader of CBRE)
  • Strong leasing activity in Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex during 2017 came from tenant expansion, rather than hyperscale cloud providers.  (Source: Jim Kerrigan of North American Data Centers)
  • The two largest data center landlords in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex --- CyrusOne and Digital Realty -- are nearing full capacity at their existing campuses.  (Source: CBRE)
  • Garland, about 30 minutes northeast of downtown Dallas, is becoming a data center cluster, with several data center construction projects either under development or at the planning stages.(Source: Bill Hethcock of Dallas Business Journal)

 

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Changes in Buyer Behavior

While digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile computing, compliance requirements, and business continuity have all been great drivers of growth for colocation and wholesale data center operators in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex, many in leadership roles at these companies struggle with an inconsistency that leaves their teams at a severe competitive disadvantage.

Starting with the release of the original iPhone in 2007, the way people research and make purchase decisions changed.

Word of mouth. Cold calls. Cold emails. Interrupting people with obnoxious, self-serving advertising. Direct mail. Print advertising. All of these marketing channels that were mainstays of business development playbooks, literally for decades (1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s), have been called onto the mat. In nearly all cases, these channels have become far less effective and have gotten far more expensive.

Why? People grew tired of interruptions and proved they were willing to pay to get what they wanted (no more, no less), exactly when they wanted it, 100% on their own terms.

The empowerment rooted in search engines, social media, mobile devices, and cloud computing has fueled entirely new business models based on selective consumption of information.

People subscribe to streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu -- and use DVRs -- to avoid watching commercials. People subscribe to satellite radio providers like SiriusXM to avoid annoying radio advertising.

What many miss: all of these personal preferences that may start at home don’t just stay at home. These same influencers and decision makers, and all the other stakeholders that purchase data center-related products and services, bring these preferences into the workplace.

 

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The Great Paradox That’s Not Sustainable

Ironically, the data center, mission critical, cloud services, and telecommunications industries have benefited greatly from all of this growth in digital demand. Yet many of those in leadership roles at outsourced data center providers have failed to appreciate how these changes impact demand generation, desired customer experience, differentiation, competitive positioning, and their ability to stave off market disruption.

Technologies like Gmail’s Priority Inbox make it tougher for any commercial email to make it to the Inbox. And do people answer their phones anymore without checking caller ID?

The rules have changed for businesses of all sizes and shapes -- including colocation and wholesale data center providers in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex.

Their clients and potential clients have become accustomed to -- in many cases, addicted would be the more accurate term -- using search engines, social media, and mobile devices to find answers to questions and seek out solutions to problems.

 

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Staying Relevant in a Buyer-Centric World

Regardless of required power, bandwidth, space, or industry-specific needs, this behavior change has completely upended the buyer’s journey -- the active research process someone goes through in between when that person begins searching for answers and when that person becomes a paying client.

In the pre-iPhone era, potential clients reached out to IT companies like colocation and wholesale data center operators for information when they were 10% to 20% of the way through their decision-making process. Those days are long, long gone.

Today, as much as 70% (or more) of their decision may be over before a potential client even reaches out to a colocation or wholesale data center provider.

This change in the decision-making process presents enormous challenges to most data center operators in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex that are stuck in the past, using the same business development, marketing, and sales playbooks that they’ve used since the 1980s and 1990s.

But digital transformation also presents enormous market opportunities for digitally-savvy data center providers that can get found by the right influencers and decision makers, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all: in the right context -- to be seen as trusted advisors and educators, rather than just IT vendors.

In the Dallas / Fort Worth Data Center Market Opportunity Report, we’ll explore which colocation and wholesale data center operators in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex are the most digitally-savvy -- and doing the best job keeping up.

We’ll unpack this challenge by looking at 55 metrics with regard to how each fares with:

  • Differentiation in the Modern Buyer’s Journey
  • Thought Leadership Strategy and Website Authority
  • Competitive Positioning
  • Company Social Media Presence
  • Lead Generation
  • Paid Search Acceleration
  • Full-Funnel Revenue Growth and Digital Infrastructure

Note: As you review the tables for each metric analyzed, for most metrics with a three column table, the strongest companies appear in the left-hand columns in the tables. The weakest companies appear in the right-hand columns in the tables. For example:

Example Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex Data Center
Full Funnel Revenue Growth

Methodology

To develop the shortlist of who to research, each outsourced data center provider had to meet most, preferably all, of the following criteria:

  • Have at least one multi-tenant data center location in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex. This includes downtown Dallas as well as Allen, Carrollton, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Lewisville, Plano, and Richardson (within a one hour’s drive of the Central Business District in downtown Dallas).
  • Be principally in the business of selling colocation and wholesale data center services (leasing space), as opposed to primarily selling website hosting, cloud services, or managed services.
  • Use the words "data center" and/or "colocation" in their website Title Tag or above the fold on their website home page.
  • Have a functional website that displays their physical data center address(es) in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex.
  • Have a separate website page for each data center facility location in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex.
  • Have a LinkedIn company page that employees are attached to.

We ended up with 29 data center operators that have 73 physical data centers. We expect the number of data center operators to further contract, as more mergers are announced and completed in the coming months and years. However, we also expect the number of physical data center locations to expand.

The data centers are located in

  • Allen, Texas (Collin County)
  • Carrollton, Texas (Dallas and Denton Counties)
  • Dallas, Texas (Dallas County)
  • Fort Worth, Texas (Tarrant County)
  • Garland, Texas (Dallas County)
  • Irving, Texas (Dallas County)
  • Lewisville, Texas (Denton County)
  • Plano, Texas (Collin County)
  • Richardson, Texas (Dallas County)

While many industry analysts track the size (square footage) and power (MW) in locations, for the Dallas / Fort Worth Data Center Market Opportunity Report we simply analyzed the number of facilities in each city/municipality and found the highest concentrations of outsourced colocation and wholesale data centers in the region in four places:

  • 45.8% (33) of the facilities are located in Dallas
  • 19.4% (14) of the facilities are located in Richardson
  •  9.7%   (7) of the facilities are located in Plano
  •  8.3%   (6) of the facilities are located in Carrollton

In other words, approximately two out of three outsourced colocation and wholesale data center facilities in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex are either in downtown Dallas or Richardson, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Dallas.

While we don’t believe that these 29 companies represent all of the outsourced data center operators in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex that meet the criteria, we do believe that the companies included are representative of how digitally-savvy data center providers in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex are.

On some metrics, we offer a median or average for that metric immediately before the table that presents how each company fares relative to its competitors.

In many cases, the median number is presented to avoid skewing data due to very large company size differences between some of the smallest and largest data center providers in the region. In other cases, where a massive company size disparity shouldn’t impact more accurate comparisons, a simple average is used.

And in a few cases, the data is normalized relative to the number of employees and presented in both absolute form and on a percentage basis.

Just as a balance sheet is a snapshot in time, the data in this report was gathered during a one week period in April 2018. It’s fully expected that the outsourced data center operators within this report, and others that read this report, will make changes to their websites and broader digital presence.

However given that a few of the companies in this report had let their websites sit stagnant for literally years, there will be some resistors who believe that their clients are different -- and don’t use search engines, social media, or smartphones.

And just to be clear: While we do know stakeholders in various roles at 14 of the 29 data center providers included in this report, none of the companies in this report paid for inclusion/sponsorship.

  • Aligned Energy (Collin County) (Plano, Texas)
  • AT&T (Collin County) (Allen, Texas)
  • Atlantic Metro (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • Carrier-1 Data Centers (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • Cogent Communications (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • ColoCrossing (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • Cologix (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • CoreSpace (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • CyrusOne (Denton County) (Carrollton, Texas) (Lewisville, Texas)
  • Cyxtera Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) (Tarrant County) (Fort Worth, Texas)
  • DataBank (Collin County) (Plano, Texas) / (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas) (Richardson, Texas)
  • Digital Realty (Dallas County) (Carrollton, Texas) (Dallas, Texas) (Richardson, Texas) / (Denton County) (Carrollton, Texas) (Lewisville, Texas)
  • EdgeCore Internet Real Estate (Dallas County) (Richardson, Texas)
  • Equinix (Collin County) (Plano, Texas) / (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas) (Irving, Texas) (Richardson, Texas)
  • Evocative (Collin County) (Plano, Texas)
  • Flexential (Formerly Peak 10 + ViaWest) (Collin County) (Plano, Texas) / (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas) (Richardson, Texas)
  • Green House Data (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • H5 COLO (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • INAP (formerly Internap Network Services Corporation) (Collin County) (Plano, Texas) / (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • QTS Data Centers (Dallas County) (Irving, Texas) / (Tarrant County) (Fort Worth, Texas)
  • QuadraNet (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • RagingWire Data Centers (Dallas County) (Garland, Texas)
  • Skybox Datacenters (Collin County) (Plano, Texas)
  • Stream Data Centers (Dallas County) (Garland, Texas)
  • Sungard Availability Services (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • T5 Data Centers (Collin County) (Plano, Texas) / (Tarrant County) (Fort Worth, Texas)
  • TierPoint (Collin County) (Allen, Texas) / (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)
  • Vazata (Dallas County) (Carrollton, Texas) / (Denton County) (Carrollton, Texas)
  • Zayo Group (zColo) (Dallas County) (Dallas, Texas)

 

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Take a Look Inside the Dallas / Fort Worth Data Center Market Opportunity Report