NEW YORK — By 2025, data center infrastructure will increase by four times, according to Colliers and its new strategic partner BCS Data Center Operations. That growth means real estate opportunity, but also comes with one big question: how will data center owners, only 30 percent of which currently outsource that critical property management role, handle the much larger, mission-critical load?

According to Colliers’ Jeff Gerwig, national director of engineering and ESG strategy, and BCS’s John Hevey, SVP and chief technical services officer, and Chad Giddings, chief marketing and sales officer, it’s a growth opportunity being fueled by one specific large contributor.

AI and the Growth of the Edge

“What’s really driving data center growth is the edge [computing],” Hevey said. “The amount that will be deployed is major, and the biggest challenge will be finding real estate for them if they can’t put them at the base of a 5G tower.”

Giddings said, “Our digital economy continues to grow, and technology such as AI and edge computing are driving the increased data utilization need, all of which is stored in data centers. The big trend we’re seeing is an increase in the volume of data centers. They’re getting larger, and also the geographic footprint of those centers is evolving. Historically, the operations of those centers have largely been on the shoulders of owners.”

There’s always going to be a need for people in data centers, but the new model, especially after COVID-19, will be ownership not wanting to send their own personnel into those facilities. Companies increasingly want on-site data center services provided, including critical facility infrastructure, racking, stacking, cabling, light configuration and more.

All real estate owners demand operational excellence, but data centers must be up and running all the time. The concept of 24-7-365 business continuity is a big one with the assurance “that essentially nothing can go wrong,” Giddings asserted. The second priority then is to balance that operational excellence with cost control and risk mitigation, which requires expert personnel, the latest technology and a razor-sharp process.

“Finding those types of professionals to bring on site to manage a data center 24-7 is difficult. It’s also challenging to retain those people,” said Gerwig. “Partnering with a subject matter expert like BCS ensures we remain the best advisors to our clients.”

On-site at the Cloud

Customers today want remote visibility into their data centers but also someone else monitoring their operations. Outsourcing this highly specialized area of CRE property management requires a fully integrated self-performance model to achieve industry-leading performance and lower operational expenses. BCS hires trained, certified engineers that serve not only as the day-to-day data center managers, reporters and preventive maintenance experts, but also the first responders when there’s a problem.

“The usual model is that every time something goes wrong or they need a service data center, owners have to reach out to a vendor or multiple vendors and each one stacks a fee on top of the last,” Hevey said. “And these days with supply chain issues and labor shortages you’re lucky if you only have to wait four hours for a vendor to respond.”

The data center management model of the future is having on-site, fully integrated teams that do self-performance and thus drive costs down. The future is now with Colliers bringing 624 million square feet to the partnership. A veteran-owned and operated business and the nation’s only independent, single-source data center operations provider, BCS already has 7.5 million total square feet and 450 MW of data center critical power under contract from Fortune 500 companies.

“Real estate owners are evolving and becoming more sophisticated in their approach,” said Giddings. “When companies consider outsourcing really large data management needs at a portfolio level they don’t want to separate data centers from all the other assets they control. Those owners want a single partnership with a single, comprehensive solution.”