Publications

- November 1, 2019: Vol. 11, Number 10

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Data centres — real estate or infrastructure, or does it matter?

by Drew Campbell

It is tempting to think of data centres as only another category of real estate — not unlike office, retail or industrial. Each property type offers space, which is measured and leased in square feet or square metres. The development and construction process for the different real estate types is also similar, from land acquisition and permitting to the process of finding tenants.

But then there are the differences.

One of the key characteristics of data centres that sets them apart from their real estate peers is the higher demand for and emphasis on power — both the immediate need to run and cool thousands of servers as well as the backup power on hand that can seamlessly keep those servers running for up to a week or more, should the primary power source go down.

Data centre operators determine fees based not only on the square footage each customer uses but also the amount of kilowatt power used or provisioned. Other services include access to broadband,

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