Carolinas Data Center Roundtable: What’s Next for Charlotte and its Neighbors?

CHARLOTTE, NC – CAPRE’s Second Annual Carolinas Data Center Summit was a rousing success, featuring eight hours of market insight and analysis. The closing session, CAPRE Carolinas Summit Takeaway & Steps Forward: What Have We Learned Today and What Should We Know Going Forward? was the perfect way to end the day, with questions both broad and specific about where the Carolinas data center market is going next. Below we showcase a brief roundtable, featuring insight of three esteemed panelist and a frequent CAPRE sponsor and moderator.

Juan, can you talk a little bit about some of the pain points that you’re seeing, which others might not consider?” asked Moderator Adam Waitkunas, President and Founder of Milldam Public Relations to Juan Penaranda, Data Center and Applications Marketing specialist for Corning Optical Communications LLC. “In terms of, where are colos are going, specifically to the market around here?”

“I think I can answer this question in a two-fold way. With regard to the MTDC colocation space, there’s a lot of needs,” replied Penaranda. “It’s about making sure. You think you know that you need a certain amount of space, and then, depending on the application you’re using, you might suddenly need more. And that’s an issue, because you might suddenly have to have multiple locations in the same MTDC or provider. So you have to make sure you have the correct grasp, and also, be able to make those changes on day 2 or day 3.”

“I also want to make a point for what we’d call hyperscalers,” Penaranda continued. “We’ve seen a lot of interconnections among the campuses reach, extreme density, which from our side is more than 3000 fibers at one time. And how much bandwidth truly goes between these campuses. You need to have that conversation early on, because I don’t think most people have a good idea about how much they will need.”

Next, Waitkunas looked to Ben Rojahn, Vice-President of CBRE.What are you seeing happening in the short-term here in Charlotte? What is the leasing volume like?” he asked.

Ben Rojahn, Vice President, CBRE

“In the short term, I’m not sure you’ll see a whole lot activity going on, to be honest,” replied Rojahn. “I don’t have to reinvent my business every six months but I do have to add to my business every six months, to some capacity, to add a new layer to what I’m selling. CBRE will then add a new service to our offering and I like to leverage all of those to try to star new conversations with customers. but the leasing volume in the Carolinas has always been very choppy. And I expect it to continue that way, in the foreseeable future. The 5G and Edge computing talk, that could be the next wave for this sector.”

Finally, Waitkunas looked to Sami Badri, Senior Analyst at Credit Suisse. “Do you have any market insight with regard to the Charlotte area? What areas of growth are you seeing?” he asked.

“Generally speaking, the East Coast has been very choppy, especially South of Virginia,” replied Badri. “When it comes to absorption, anything north of Miami. When you think about 5G or AI or ML being integrated, this kind of choppiness in absorption should actually go away over time, and actually become a little bit more consistent as far as absorption goes. The region for that is because telecommunications providers have to actually start matching the Edge applications that they’re trying to monetize with their customers.”

“When you do something like that, you technically just need to start being more consistent with your absorption patterns,” Badri suggested. “And you need to go further across, to the Edge. You can’t always just centralize in Northern Virginia or Miami or Atlanta. You have to start going even deeper into specifically the Carolinas and some of the other regions, which I would describe as choppy or even neglected, in terms of largescale expansions.”

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