eStruxture Data Centers’ recent bet on Calgary as a solid data centre market has paid off and the Montreal-based company is now set to open its second facility in the Alberta city.
“We stuck our toe in the water in Calgary a few years ago, midway through the trough of the Alberta economic cycle,” said Todd Coleman, founder, president and CEO of eStruxture. “We had a belief that Calgary would be an up-and-coming data centre market (and) that’s proven out over the last couple of years.”
CAL-1, the company’s first data centre in Calgary, a 65,000-square-foot facility at 7007 54 St. SE, “is effectively full or darn close. We’ve seen significant demand.”
That has led eStruxture to build CAL-2, its second Calgary data centre, slated to open Nov. 1.
With more than 20 megawatts of power and 93,000 square feet of data centre space, and with room for possible expansion, CAL-2 will be the largest data centre in the Calgary area, Coleman said.
eStruxture’s expansion plans
It’s located at 149 High Plains Pl. in Balzac, about 15 minutes from downtown Calgary, and is part of a multi-tenant industrial facility built by developer Highfield.
Space in CAL-2 is more than 50 per cent committed and expansion of CAL-1 is possible, Coleman said.
“We haven’t ruled that out. We fully expect that given our market position, given that, frankly, we’re one of the early embracers of the Calgary data centre market, we expect to retain that foothold and continue to invest.”
eStruxture also plans to expand MTL-2, one of the company’s five facilities in Montreal. The former Montreal Gazette printing facility in Notre Dame de Grace was acquired and transformed by eStruxture into a hyperscale-grade data centre with more than 30 megawatts of power.
“It sits on a little over nine acres and the current building sits pretty far back, so we’re currently in the throes of working through final design and development around finishing out that campus.”
The expansion will be “north of 100,000 square feet.”
eStruxture has two facilities in Vancouver — VAN-1, a 10,000-square-foot facility at 55 East 7th Ave. and VAN-2, a 14,500-square-foot facility at 555 West Hastings St. — and is finalizing the permitting to build a third in the Vancouver area.
VAN-3, at 4590 Canada Way in Burnaby, will be a 54,000-square-foot facility with 10 to 12 megawatts.
“Canadians like doing business with Canadians”
Coleman says demand for data continues to increase, with the customer base getting larger and the size of transactions going up exponentially.
“This year alone, we’re putting well north of $100 million of expansion cap ex to work. Next year looks like it could be upwards of two times that,” he said.
eStruxture, which also has five data centres in the Toronto area, has no current plans to expand to other cities. The company intends to stay focused on the Canadian market, “but with an asterisk. If the right opportunity comes along, we’ll certainly consider it.”
The company has a mix of buildings it owns and those it leases long-term. Coleman said eStruxture does not have a strong requirement that it should be a landowner, noting power and fibre optics are stronger priorities.
“If we’re leasing, we’re a 20-plus-year tenant,” Coleman said. “On the real estate side, we’ll take an existing building that we can enter into a long-term lease, particularly if we can control it and make the changes that we want to make.”
Founded in 2017, eStruxture says it is the only remaining major Canadian-owned and operated data centre provider. That’s a big plus, Coleman said, as “Canadians like doing business with Canadians.”
The strategy from the outset has been, “to really have an intimate knowledge of the markets in which we operate.
“That means having a local sales presence, local operations and support presence. Our executive team understands this market really well,” he said. “We’re bringing a different perspective versus someone that’s flown in, made an investment and then they’ve moved on to other regions of the world.”
Being Canadian-owned also enables eStruxture to pursue more government contracts, he added.
Walking the walk with ESG
On the sustainability front, the company has been on “a huge kick” to reduce or eliminate the use of water as a cooling agent in its data centres. For new builds, Coleman said, “we effectively have little to no water use in our data centres save for toilets, sinks and some humidification.”
Instead of water, the company makes use of outside air eight months of the year in cities like Montreal, or uses cooling systems that tend to be glycol-based. eStruxture has also been aiming to ensure diversity and inclusion are more than just buzzwords.
“The telecommunication infrastructure industry in which we operate has traditionally been predominantly white male,” Coleman says. “We want to drive that change and we’ve been driving it for five years.”
As a result, women comprise more than 40 per cent of eStruxture’s executive team, including its CFO and head of operations.
“In key roles and even in non-traditional key roles, we’ve said we want to hire the best person and from the get-go we’re going to say the best person is a woman. That’s been important to our success.”
In addition, 55 per cent of eStruxture’s 130-plus employees identify as diverse.
A critical factor, Coleman says, is that, “when you walk the talk, when you show that you’re prepared to hire diverse employees, guess what those diverse employees do? They talk to their friends; they talk to their family. They’re the biggest promoter of it.”
Because of word of mouth, eStruxture’s diversity program, “has taken on a life of its own in the most positive way,” Coleman said.