Data Centers Enable Our Digital World—and Thriving Communities

The data center industry has a global impact, and drives economic and social benefits in communities throughout the world

Rey Banks
Data Centers Enable Our Digital World—and Thriving Communities

Most people don’t think about data centers in the course of their day-to-day lives. Even as they use the internet for entertainment, directions, banking, shopping and more, they don’t consider that there are physical buildings somewhere that enable all of that. The term “cloud computing” actually has some believing all of that “magic” is happening somewhere out in the atmosphere.

Since today is International Data Center Day, it’s the perfect opportunity to share the integral role data centers play in our modern society and economy. Data centers enable everything from content streaming and social media to automated manufacturing and global logistics. There are also many ways that data centers impact local communities throughout the world.

Supporting the local economy

Many people’s first direct experience with data centers comes when they hear that one is scheduled to be built in their community. And that brings up all kinds of questions:

  • Is this facility safe?
  • What is going on in there?
  • Will its presence negatively impact my housing value?

There are many ways data centers benefit communities. Perhaps the most obvious way is by providing jobs in a stable, fast-growing industry. Within every new data center, there are a wide variety of solid, well-paying roles that need to be filled, which could include:

  • Operations and facilities management roles such as property manager, logistics manager, HVAC technician and cable technician
  • IT roles such as hardware engineer, network engineer and cybersecurity analyst
  • Business roles such as sales and marketing, business development and account executive

Data center jobs are not just for those who fit the stereotypical profile of a tech worker, with a certain educational and professional background. Anyone with the willingness to work hard and learn along the way has the potential to succeed in this industry. In fact, the industry is growing faster than the current job market can support. Data centers are often willing to look for talent that other companies traditionally overlook.

At Equinix, we started a Career Pathways Program to bridge the gap between under-represented groups and equitable job opportunities. This includes military veterans and their spouses, those looking to make a career transition, and those looking to return to the workforce after taking time off to care for family. Seeking job candidates with something unique to offer—regardless of their background—is part of our strategy to create a stronger, more diverse workforce. Great career opportunities exist in this industry for anyone who wants to pursue them.

Benefiting the local business ecosystem

The benefits to the local economy start before the new data center even opens its doors. Designing and building a data center takes a wide array of skilled labor and professional support—everyone from engineers to architects and general contractors to electricians. These workers are often hired from local small businesses. A recent PwC report found that each direct job in the data center industry indirectly supports more than six other jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.[1]

After they’re operational, data centers continue to drive economic benefits and opportunities for local businesses. A data center is so much more than just a box for storing data. It’s a platform for capturing the full value of data—particularly in the case of colocation data centers such as Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) facilities. Think of a colocation facility like an airport for data. Just like an airport brings together multiple airlines in one place, a colocation data center brings together various digital service providers. And just like an airport connects passengers to the world, a colocation data center connects local businesses with partners that help them move their data anywhere it needs to go.

Colocation data centers can also be more efficient. Rather than individual businesses running their own private data centers, a colocation data center essentially allows them to pool into a single facility, thus using fewer natural resources.

Closing the digital divide

The digital divide is a complex problem with multiple causes—and no easy solutions. Addressing it requires an ecosystem of different partners working together toward a common goal. Data centers can be the hub where these partners come together to collaborate and share their services and become more than the sum of their parts.

Developing digital literacy and skills is a prerequisite to succeed in our tech-driven economy. Unfortunately, traditionally marginalized communities are less likely to have access to skills-building opportunities and the resources that technology enables. As a result, they’re at risk of falling even further behind. Ensuring equitable access to digital connectivity will be essential to creating healthy, functioning communities in the decades to come.

Equinix is dedicated to working with our own ecosystem partners to help ensure digital inclusion. One way we do this is by giving our partners free access to our services. For example, we piloted a program to offer qualified internet service providers (ISPs) free connectivity to Equinix Internet Exchange in Michigan, New York and Texas. In turn, the ISPs used this connectivity to help bring affordable internet access to underserved communities in those states. We’ve also partnered with companies like Dell Technologies and BT to co-fund organizations working in digital equity and inclusion.

We also take a community-based approach and support a variety of nonprofits, social enterprises and educational institutions working to promote digital inclusion in the communities where we operate. Through the Equinix Foundation, we are funding organizations in 34 of our metros around the world, as well as many regional and global nonprofits. Through our matching gifts and volunteer reward program, Equinix encourages employees to live their values and make an impact in their own communities.

A connected world starts with connected communities

Every day, not just on International Data Center Day, Equinix is dedicated to enabling big possibilities for our global customers, while also making a positive impact across all the communities where we operate.

Learn how you can be a part of building the foundation that makes our digital world possible: Explore a career in the data center industry.

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[1] Economic, Environmental, and Social Impacts of Data Centers in the United States, PwC, September 2023.

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Rey Banks Public Policy Senior Manager, State and Local
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