Data Centers Breathing New Life into Underserved, Growing Markets

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By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor

There was no internet exchange in Huntsville, AL. Nor was there in Birmingham, AL; or Chattanooga, TN; or Greenville, SC, for that matter, before DC BLOX came to town.

“If there’s a market in the Southeast, or a general area, that has at least one million in population, but does not have hardened data center infrastructure, that is a target market that we will pursue,” said Jeff Uphues, CEO, DC BLOX.

And pursue, it has. DC BLOX has brought secure, reliable data centers providing robust connectivity to businesses in five growing, underserved markets. Five more are in the planning stages as it expands its footprint across the South.

“Our customers really benefit from our facilities, because they are tier III designed facilities that really didn’t exist prior to our entry into these markets,” Uphues said. “Our facilities meet stringent requirements for security and compliance and are designed for government-grade level security, which provides the hardened infrastructure that is needed by so many enterprises, governments, cloud providers and others.”

DC BLOX provides flexible space and power for all different types of server equipment that range from legacy gear to much higher performance computing densities that are starting to emerge. The data centers have also become the de facto internet exchange locations in each of their markets for content from all wireless and wireline carriers, enterprises, research, education, and governments.

Additionally, DC BLOX provides computing infrastructure, and storage to serve customers that have high-density workloads, massive file sizes, or that have interaction with their data that makes the public clouds located across the country less desirable. Each data center is interconnected with DC BLOX’s high-speed, fiber-optic network, which enables a variety of use cases including business continuity, disaster recovery, content delivery, IoT and mobile applications.

DC BLOX was founded in 2014 with a plan to create modular data centers, which would be retrofitted into existing buildings in smaller markets and then connected to much larger markets through dedicated connectivity. That idea evolved from using existing buildings to purpose-built multi-tenant colocation data centers.

“The original concept is still correct, but the way we executed it has been modified by our team,” Uphues said. “What we realized is there is the need for a purpose-built facility, which has broader levels of interconnectivity, security and in-region cloud services.”

Demand for the facilities has come from enterprises that owned their data facilities in the past and welcomed the chance to reduce their overall data center costs and remove the burden of keeping up with security, compliance and upgrades. Another source of demand is coming from cloud providers, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Oracle, which are moving applications into local and regional markets to be closer to where applications are being consumed.

Before DC BLOX arrived on the scene, rural operators, who delivered broadband solutions, were forced to backhaul data traffic to a hyperscale data center or internet exchange, typically in a location like Atlanta. “The rural operator can build fiber out to its consumers and provide internet, phone, TV and other streaming services in that market, but if it can’t get affordable and diverse connectivity out of the market, it is like they are on an island,” Uphues said.

DC BLOX is as much of a networking company as it is a data center company, Uphues said. By providing a data center in close proximity, it gives rural operators access to a fabric of connectivity that greatly improves the reliability and overall performance of the network for their customers.

“Using the Rural Digital Opportunity Funds, rural operators are extending the reach of broadband, adding more customers and adding more bandwidth,” Uphues said. “They’re creating environments where they need to be served with a purpose-built, hardened data center locally, and our facilities end up helping them do that.”

Uphues is proud that his company’s facilities are helping these smaller cities grow and are a crucial link in the effort to close the digital divide, as broadband is pushed out to rural areas.

“We’re enabling more broadband investments within the markets where people want to live,” he said. “By keeping the data center local, we give enterprises an option to move to a larger market. They’d rather work and shop locally. That’s the allure of some of these growing markets that are throughout the areas we serve.”

For more information about DC BLOX, visit https://www.dcblox.com.

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