Why Your Data Center Belongs in Loudoun County, Virginia


Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Tony Howard stands on the red carpet at the opening of DC11.


Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Tony Howard, spoke at the launch party of Equinix’s latest state-of-the-art data center, DC11, in Ashburn, Virginia.

I’ve heard folks sing praises of a city, state, or country – but never county. Tony spoke about both thriving businesses and families. He was genuinely proud. He said it’s no surprise the largest peering point in North America is located in his county.

But why a county in Northern Virginia? Why data centers? I grabbed Tony Howard after the party to find out more.

I’ve never heard anyone speak so highly about a county! What makes Loudoun County so special?

Loudoun County is a very special place because of all our commercial assets. We’re so close to Washington DC. We have Dulles in our back yard. There’s tremendous Internet capabilities here. We attract great companies like Equinix. So it’s really a thriving commercial county.

I got off the plane at Dulles yesterday. In just a few minutes I’m here, and it feels like the countryside!

You can be in downtown DC in 30-40 minutes. You can be in the Blue Ridge mountains in slightly more than that. And just a couple minutes to the west you’re in some of the most beautiful Virginia countryside you’ll ever see.

We’re the number one wine county in Virginia. The epicenter of the Virginia wine country is moving to Loudoun County. We have more wineries than any other county in Virginia.

Wineries in Virginia??

Yes! Have you tried any?

No. [Laughs]

You should! We also have beautiful horse country in the southwest of the county. We’re the number one equestrian county in Virginia. So we have the best of all worlds. You have countryside, you have wines, you have horses. And yet, you’re in the Washington DC area, a thriving community. So we’re very proud of that. It’s a competitive advantage.

I can see why.

Not only can you do business here, your people, your employees, your senior folks, right on down to the people who got hired yesterday, enjoy an unparalleled world class style of life. We’re proud of that.

Median household income is number one in the nation several years in a row.

Wow! Not Beverly Hills? Well, that’s not a county.

We still have a lot to do. We’re certainly not resting on our laurels. But we have a lot to be proud of.

Interconnections did a post on a presentation from Equinix’s Dave Rinard at the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. “Equinix and the evolution of data center efficiency and sustainability“. How important is sustainability to Loudoun County?

We’ve seen a lot of interest in the sustainability area. “How you can save green by growing green.” On a personal level, it’s very important. We’re a Chamber of Commerce, why do we care about that? You can improve your business operations and save money and appeal to employees and companies who care about this. Dave did an excellent job talking about the focus Equinix made on sustainability. It’s a business issue and it’s a personal issue.

It’s a win-win.


So why are data centers in particular so strong in Loudoun County?

It was the investment made by the private and public sector. AOL, Worldcom, others – they dug the trenches, they laid the pipes, they invested in Loudoun County. Data centers are here because of infrastructure. One of the most important parts about my job is preaching to politicians about the importance of infrastructure. Good roads, good schools, good Internet access, good water etc.. We have some of the best of the world.

Did you take a tour of DC11?

I enjoy being inside your facilities here and see how Equinix serves the world’s financial markets. I saw a world map with Equinix locations: London, Tokyo, New York, and other world capitals…then I saw Ashburn. We are on the world’s stage!

Any final thoughts on Loudoun County and Equinix?

Companies need to attract the best and the brightest, and the best and the brightest go anywhere they want. They’ll put up with traffic, they’ll put up with fair weather, but they won’t put up with sub-par schools for their children. Equinix needs the best and the brightest to succeed, so that investment and infrastructure is absolutely critical.