"The Chicago colocation market continues to rise in popularity as enterprises seek data center space in the city’s increasingly competitive financial, media and digital environments. New Continuum Holdings Corporation (NCHC), a company formed by the team behind Continuum Data Centers (CDC), recently announced that it will provide data center colocation services to businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area.
The 80,000-square-foot data center, located in West Chicago, was originally constructed as a Tier III data center in 2007 by another firm, but the construction project was never finished. CDC, a Chicago-based colocation and data center services provider, will complete the build-out. The company expects to offer a Tier III facility with redundant N 1 specifications to customers beginning in midsummer 2014. Continuum representatives highlighted the company’s innovative efforts in the areas of disaster recovery planning and risk aversion – unlike some of the other data centers constructed in industrial locales or built in close proximity to the highways that lead into downtown Chicago, the Continuum data center solutions in design offer complete disaster mitigation. The data center site offers 48 megawatts of power from two power grids, with plans of a third accessible grid in the future, as well as fiber optic connections. The facility will also have the resources for standby generators that can provide 72 hours of continuous run time at the full critical load, including separate above ground fuel tanks and a pumping station on the premises.
The data center cooling systems will also offer state-of-the-art solutions as the facility’s temperature is maintained through a water-based evaporation and recirculation plant. An in-ground water system with four tanks provides 140,000 gallons of water, with four 700 ton chilling towers and four 770 ton parallel turbines. The tanks also utilize natural cooling to mitigate energy usage. There will also be four 2.5 megawatt generators in the facility to provide power backup. Overall, these solutions make the facility well-protected and energy efficient.
Colocation in Chicago Rising in Popularity
CDC is only one of a number of companies increasing their presence in the Chicago colocation market. The city is currently home to 29 data centers, and that number will likely continue to increase for the foreseeable future. The data center’s client-facing offerings will include six 900-square-foot private data center suites, as well as custom cage and cabinet retail colocation space. Eli D. Scher, NCHC Chairman and CEO, recently spoke to the demand for premium data center, colocation and managed services solutions in the Chicago metro area.
“The market for Tier III colocation in Chicago is one of the strongest in the nation, and we believe our product offering at the West Chicago facility addresses the many significant needs of customers,” Scher said. “Moreover, the location of the facility relative to the new CME data center three miles away in Aurora provides an interesting alternative to financial firms looking to efficiently house their less latency sensitive applications.”
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) data center in Aurora offers low latency connections for futures and options trading on the CME Globex platform. It has helped increase the versatility and visibility of the city in the world financial environment, so the new CDC data center will offer another option for companies that want data center availability close to the trading center.
Investment in Chicago data centers has also grown thanks to business-friendly tax initiatives offered by the city, wrote Crain’s Chicago Business contributor John Pletz. The main program, called Data Center Express, was expanded by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this year and streamlines the entire data center construction process. Five companies have utilized the program to offset project costs, including Digital Realty Trust. As a fiber optic network hub and inland location far from more volatile coastal climates, Chicago offers businesses a sound alternative to their existing data centers. However, since space is at a premium within the city, colocation in the surrounding suburbs will likely increase.
“We see the data center as a way to enable, attract and retain all types of businesses,” John Tolva, Chicago’s chief technology officer, told Pletz. “Customers like to be close to their data. Our big businesses don’t want their data in Phoenix. They want it close. [Data centers] are not massive job creators, but they’re a big instigator of economic activity.”"