Investing on the digital frontier: Strong growth is expected in the data center market, but where does the asset class fit in investors’ portfolios?
It is tempting to think of data centers as simply 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 meters. The development and construction process for the different real estate types also is similar, from land acquisition and permitting to the process of finding tenants and operating the property.
But data centers are different, with high demands for power to operate, back up and cool the assets, which house servers, semiconductors, fiber and, of course, data. Another key difference is the space in a data center is leased on the basis of capacity measured in kilowatts per hour rather than the typical real estate metric of price per square foot, which also is used but is secondary.
“[Data center investing] doesn’t necessarily fit cleanly in [any] box,” says Jon Mauck, managing director with Digital Bridge and Digital Colony, owners and operators of d