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Anexio’s Tony Pompliano: Don’t Underestimate Network in Site Selection

Apr 13, 2018
by Josh Anderson

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC– Tony Pompliano is the Chief Executive Officer of Anexio, a North Carolina-based IAAS firm which provides a multitude of data center and IT solutions. He was a natural fit for a panel titled Carolinas Data Center Market 360: An Overview of Regional Development, Site Selection Advantages and Leasing Trends at CapRE’s 2018 Southeast Data Center Spring Update in late March. One of the highlights of this panel was Pompliano’s perspective on some particular advantages and disadvantages with respect to site selection in the Carolinas and Atlanta.

Tony Pompiliano, Chief Executive Officer, Anexio

We asked Pompliano, how does the type of customers impact the choice of real estate for a data center? Said Tony “I think that in Atlanta, there is generally a common selection process for most customers. Cost of power is very important, fiber connectivity — and networking in general is a very important aspect of that – and then tax incentives are increasingly becoming important as people make huge capital investments, whether they’re a data center operator themselves of the enterprise that is moving into those facilities.”

Next, Pompliano wanted to clarify some things with regards to semantics. “We could probably spend all morning talking about definitions, right?” he began. “When people talk about data centers, the default position is to think about large-scale data centers. The ideas that you might read commentary in industry magazines talking about the lack of importance of data centers, the evolution of cloud services, well those are pretty ignorant people, they don’t know where the cloud lives. The cloud lives in data centers. And I’m a believer that there are going to be millions of data centers, not fewer data centers!”

According to Pompliano, they’re going to be large-scale, hyperscale, multi-tenant data center environments like those you see being built in Ashburn, Dallas Chicago, Ashburn and Phoenix. “Those are what I would call wholesale markets by and large,” he explained. “But there are going to be data centers that are sitting at the bottom of cell towers as well, and one day these will be data centers. And you will look back and sort of laugh at this idea that data centers are going away.”

“Having said that, Anexio’s business model has been to acquire small regional players, primarily those who have been in wholesale data center space,” continued Pompliano. “We don’t have any data centers today in the Carolinas. We hope to at some point, but it’s not a wholesale data center market, and as a result we’ve focused on other data center markets. But the demand for clients, scalability, reliability, security, all of that is important.”

In his opinion, networking is the one factor that’s simply not emphasized enough. “Data centers wouldn’t be worth anything if they weren’t connected to a network,” he pointed out. “So that availability of the network is really important to the market.”

Pompliano then offered some observations about specific facilities in the region. “In North Carolina, they have the Apple facility out west, and they’ve got the fiber connectivity that they need, and that along with the low cost of power are big drivers,” he offered. “Flexential is in Charlotte and Raleigh, both are very healthy markets for customers.”

data center summit“However, the thing I can speak to – I’m originally from New York, I’ve lived across the country, and I’ve been in North Carolina for the twenty-two years – is that I could have headquartered Anexio anywhere in the country, and frankly I have thought about it,” he then revealed. “But I chose to stay in North Carolina for a couple of reasons.”

“One is that it’s an incredibly diverse industry segment there,” explained Pompliano, with a bit of passion. “Financial services, technology, pharmaceuticals, and the state capital is in Raleigh – all of those are great dynamics. It’s a business-friendly community. Power is fairly abundant and inexpensive on a relative basis. There’s a great labor force, as a result of the universities that exist. And they’re competing or Amazon’s HQ2.”

“But those aspects apply to every business,” he continued. “So think about it, who are the consumers of data center space, beyond the hyperscale cloud guys? They’re enterprises. They’re consolidating into larger facilities with that redundancy and scalability, and I think it’s only a matter of time before we see more hyperscale facilities show up in the Carolinas. But clearly, Atlanta is leading the way, and for good reason.”

 

Tony Pompliano, Center, and colleagues at CapRE’s 2018 Southeast Data Center Spring Update, North Charleston, South Carolina

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