Big On Fortresses
DataCentersNow Becomes Fortress Development, touts sturdier facilities
Dec. 4, 2001 -- Data centers are out. Data fortresses are
the philosophy at DataCentersNow, which earlier this month announced
that it had changed its name to the Fortress Development Company,
hoping to capitalize on a renewed focus on ultra-secure facilities.
Md. company, a subsidiary of BeCo Development, has pursued one
of the bolder strategies in the data center sector, building three
large "cyberfortress" facilities on speculation.
as its tries to fill the vacant space it has already built, Fortress
is preparing to develop the CyberPlex@Dulles, a 3 million square
foot mixed-use project combining data center space and highly-secure
industry littered with casualties of overexpansion, Fortress believes
its focus on speculative but specialized mission-critical space
is about to pay off - particularly in Northern Virginia.
federal government, with its emergency spending, is going to be
very active in this market," said Jason Britton, Director
of Marketing for Fortress Development. "I look for a mass
migration of government agencies out of Washington. These offices
for government agencies are going to be spread out."
its emphasis on ultra-secure facilities in the suburbs, Fortress
stands to benefit from that trend, which is driven by the terrorist
attacks on Sept. 11.
bittersweet," said Britton. "You never want to see anything
like what happened Sept. 11. It's forced us as a country and government
to reassess what we thought was secure. We're seeing a push away
from the downtown."
change is part of the company's effort to differentiate its facilities
in a crowded market for mission-critical buildings.
the name ‘DataCentersNow’ described an important aspect of our
business, it didn't convey that our CyberFortress facilities secure
more than data,” said Chris Epstein, president of Fortress Development.
“Employees of corporations and government agencies are increasingly
called upon to conduct a full spectrum of mission critical activities.”
have a specific market, and that market is alive and well,"
not guess that based on the occupancy of the three projects the
company has completed. A pair of 110,000 square foot CyberFortress
buildings in Chicago and Prince William County, Va. have yet to
be leased after being completed earlier this year. A large telecom
company signed a letter of intent for the Virginia site, but has
since changed its mind.
a very different story when the company's CyberFortress I was
completed in the spring of 2000. Nearly 60 prospective tenants
toured the Loudon County site, and 11 bidders competed for the
right to lease the project, according to Britton.
was Infocrossing, a Leonia, N.J. managed services provider. But
in August Infocrossing halted work on CyberFortress I, citing
an overabundance of hosting space. It is now actively marketing
the vacant space.
acknowledges that the current glut of finished data centers "definitely
alters the equation."
biggest responsibility becomes education," said Britton.
"We have to explain the difference between a colocation and
hosting data center and what we do."
is location. By opting to build outside the central business districts
of major cities, Fortress had the space and flexibility to incorporate
"mega-security" features such as bulletproof glass,
extra-thick cement walls, and deep setbacks from nearby roadways.
wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, corporations and government agencies
are revisiting the security of their employees as well as their
data. That's one area where Britton feels Fortress is well-positioned.
are built to meet the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility
(SCIF) code, a National Security Agency standard for buildings
that handle sensitive government data or intelligence. SCIF mandates
a sturdy infrastructure and tight controls on building access.
Fortress Development spent
$23 million to purchase 425 acres for the CyberPlex@Dulles development,
which Britton says will be "designed for people rather than
servers." Plans call for a gradual buildout that could eventually
include 860,000 square feet of data center space and 2.5 million
square feet of secure office space.
In coordination with Dominion Virginia Power, the site also boasts
a planned 250 megawatt electric substation. The total project
cost of development is expected to exceed $500 million.
"CyberPlex@Dulles will set a new standard for the way that office
parks are designed in the future," said Epstein. "The concept
of combining fortified and securable data center and office buildings
in a unified complex is a novel idea that we feel will answer
the increasing need to keep mission-critical operations separate
and highly secure, yet accessible."
of the buildout will depend upon how long it takes the company
to lease its existing CyberFortresses, according to Britton.
focus on 'now' and speed to market is no longer a driving issue,"
said Britton, who says a surge in demand for such highly-secure
space is inevitable.
company in the last 60 days has had that discussion (about disaster
recovery)," he said. "A lot of companies right now don't
know what to do. But the
days of companies storing their data in basements and closets