Richmond area poised to become major internet hub with new data centers | Technology

Scott Brown founded the Pixel Factory Data Center to manage huge digital photo libraries. Now, it is poised to be an integral part of the future of Internet infrastructure in the Richmond and Mid-Atlantic region.

Brown’s company still maintains photo volumes for local college athletic departments, Ford Motor Co.’s North American racing division and other clients.

Inside its 14,000 square foot data center and office located in an unassuming warehouse in Hanover Countyhowever, there are dozens of server racks, some labeled with stickers for companies like Google and Netflix.

“When you see it, you don’t think much of flashing lights. But that’s 5,000 movies watched in real time,” he said.

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With one of the highest concentrations of fiber optic cables in the region coming from its business, the Pixel Factory is now home to one of three internet exchange nodes that German technology company DE-CIX has established itself in the Richmond area. The partnership highlights the emergence of the Richmond area as an important stronghold for data center operators and the development of global Internet connections to handle the ever-increasing transmission of data for generations to come.

Vinay Nagpal – chairman of consulting firm InterGlobix and executive director of the Internet Ecosystem Innovation Committee, a consortium of digital technology companies and business leaders interested in internet infrastructure – said the private and public sectors in recent years have capitalized on new fiber optic submarine cable connections landing in Virginia Beach.

“What I like to tell people is that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it happened during our respective careers and tenures,” Nagpal said. “I think it’s an incredible blessing and an incredible opportunity.”

Scott Brown (right), founder/owner of Pixel Factory Data Center, spoke with Anthony Romanello (left), executive director of the Henrico County Economic Development Authority, and Vinay Nagpal, president of InterGlobix and executive director of the Internet Ecosystem Innovation Committee, in the shared rack space room at the center last week.


While Northern Virginia, particularly Ashburn in Loudoun County, remains the “mecca” of data centers handling much of the world’s web traffic, he said network development in the Richmond area will enable prevent local traffic from being routed north.

Brown said this will allow for more direct connections between internet service providers and content producers while improving quality of service and internet speeds for consumers in the Greater Richmond area.

The growing industry presence in the Richmond area will be highlighted on November 8 at the IEIC/NAP 2.0 Summit at the Hilton Richmond Hotel and Spa in Short Pump.

In addition to panel discussions and keynotes from industry leaders, including a keynote from Vint Cerf, an early internet pioneer and Google VP as Chief Internet Evangelist, the event will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new DE-CIX Richmond network.

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The new DE-CIX network takes over from the initial deployments and foundations laid by the Richmond Virginia non-profit internet exchange which Brown co-founded with Bank of Virginia and other technology providers, such as SummitIG, Richweb and VA Skywire.

Although he runs a relatively small operation compared to other large data centers in the region, Brown said his company has found its niche serving small internet service providers, such as the Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and Firefly Fiber Broadband in rural areas south of Charlottesville, to provide fast, reliable Internet service to homes and businesses in areas that need it.

“We’ve helped make this ecosystem easier for them to deliver content to their customers by simply connecting the building blocks together and bringing some of those building blocks closer” to other data centers and connection points in the region, Brown said.

Rather than building a new facility, DE-CIX is locating its new nodes at Pixel Factory in Hanover and QTS Richmond and EdgeConneX data centers in Henrico County, which will connect to its other exchange points in New York. , Dallas, Chicago and Phoenix and more than 3,000 networks in more than 30 countries, according to Nagpal.




“With the international strength and reach of DE-CIX, as well as the depth of our partners’ reach and existing relationships, we look forward to building on the great foundation established by RVA-IX to enhance and enhance solutions. connectivity in the Richmond market,” said Ed d’Agostino, vice president and general manager of DE-CIX North America, when the company launched operations in Richmond in December.

Richmond’s new DE-CIX network also builds on the growth of Henrico’s East QTS Mega data center which hosts the Richmond Network Access Point, which provides access to over 20 network providers and four transcontinental submarine cables that connect to Puerto Rico, Europe and the South. America.

In addition to the new partnership with DE-CIX, QTS recently announced plans to double the size of its 1.5 million square foot data center after acquiring an additional 200 acres of space at White Oak Technology Park in Sandston.

“We recognize that the world of digital business is booming, the data center industry is growing at an exponential rate to accommodate this change, and we have all the tools to usher in a new era of global communications. “, said Clint Heiden, co-founder. from NAP and QTS’ main revenue office, in a statement about the expansion last month.

Before the creation of the NAP in 2019, most Internet traffic from Europe passed through New York and New Jersey. Today, 18% of East Coast internet traffic goes through Henrico, according to the Henrico Economic Development Authority.

And two years earlier, as Microsoft, Facebook and Spanish telecommunications company Telxius built a 4,000-mile-long undersea fiber optic cable between Virginia Beach and Bilbao, Spain, Henrico disclosed that Facebook would invest $1 billion. dollars in a new 970,000 square foot data network. center in White Oak.

Facebook data center

Facebook, whose company name is now Meta, built this new data center at White Oak Technology Park in eastern Henrico County.


Anthony Romanello, executive director of the Henrico Economic Development Authority, said the data center and technology industry was a critical part of the county’s growth strategy, noting how Henrico executives slashed 90% the property tax rate on computers and data center equipment in 2017. drawing development.

“Investments are now starting to build on each other – the flywheel is spinning,” he said. “I think we’re going to see growth across the region in data center infrastructure, and then with all of our businesses. It’s one more thing that makes the Richmond area attractive and a great place to live.

Ramon J. Espinoza