The North Carolina data center market may benefit greatly from an initiative that would offer ultra-fast bandwidth to businesses. The NC Next Generation Network (NCNGN) is a project sponsored by several universities and community businesses in the state’s “Research Triangle,” which spans eight counties and includes Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. It’s long been a center of economic development fueled by technological research, so it’s no surprise that tech leaders in the Triangle are developing open access, high-speed bandwidth that would match the fastest community-deployed connections in Kansas City and Seattle, among other locations.
Once deployed, the super fast connection speeds would create many opportunities for data center design and development. Bandwidth connections in the Triangle currently run at anywhere from 10 to 20 megabits per second, according to Area Development contributor Beth Mattson-Teig. The NCNGN wants to install a one-gigabit connection, which represents a 100-fold increase in speed. Further economic development opportunities, including access to digital resources and better business communication, are driving the project. Researchers in the area have long prided themselves on developing tech solutions and making them actionable within their business and residential communities, and it is clear that high speed bandwidth would continue in that tradition.
“We want to make sure that our area is one of the leaders to keep us innovative and keep the reputation that we have for being a high-tech area of innovation,” said Marc Hoit, vice chancellor for information technology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, according to Mattson-Teig.
NCNGN has been in negotiations with several service providers and targets October 11 as the date for signing the contracts of the selected proposal. This timeline would put high-speed bandwidth into action by late 2014.
Leading innovators in the NC data center market
Regional emphasis on technological development and proximity to other data center-friendly states have caused many companies to offer data centers for lease in North Carolina. Apple famously constructed a $1 billion, 500,000 square foot data center in Maiden, N.C. Like Google and Facebook, Apple has taken to leasing space in their data centers to other businesses. At the center of these decisions, wrote Data Center Knowledge editor-in-chief Rich Miller, is the build vs. buy debate. While some larger companies have built their own sites, particularly in traditional tech epicenters like Silicon Valley and northern Virginia, many smaller companies favor colocation because they get ready made data centers for lease that are managed by an outsourced operator.
North Carolina, like Oregon, is growing in prominence as a key area for data center development, as the state offers inexpensive land in close proximity to tech hubs. Google is also increasing its footprint in the state, recently expanding its Lenoir, N.C. campus. Google elected to expand their presence due to the availability of resources that can continue to drive expansion. Coupled with this further data center development from tech industry leaders, a rollout of a high-speed bandwidth connection would foster increased business connectivity and growth in the region.