T5 Data Centers (T5) is focused both on real estate assets and supporting services across the global data center arena, serving hyperscale, enterprise and colocation customers. A developer of high-quality data centers in the best markets in North America, and worldwide, T5 offers a range of services to meet the needs of the most demanding companies. “That’s why we created our Facilities Management division (T5FM) and our Construction Services division (T5CS),” explains T5’s President & CEO, Pete Marin.
T5CS was established in 2014 and offers specialized construction services for mission-critical facilities and renewable energy solutions. The division excels with turnkey data hall construction, facility infrastructure upgrades, equipment procurement, project management and consulting, and green energy projects. With more than 200 mission-critical projects completed across the US, T5CS currently operates in 41 states.
Those green energy projects are supporting hyperscale and enterprise data center operators. “We’re ready to meet the demands of the latest initiatives,” assures Marin. “The leading hyperscale users are building large solar arrays, so we’re developing that expertise and see it as complimentary business and part of the symbiotic relationship with everything we’re doing across the industry. We are providing construction services to groups that actually own the purchase power agreements, and we’ll also look at investing in those in the future.”
T5 has partnered with Cherry Street Energy to expand its renewable energy expertise by adding solar array installation to its growing list of general contracting support services. This will also help further develop T5’s leadership position on an important initiative gaining increased traction in the mission-critical industry. “The solar industry has come a long way over the last five years,” says Robbie Sovie, Executive Vice President for Development & Construction at T5. “The systems have become more efficient economically and the footprint efficiency has also improved, allowing more watts-per-square-foot in a given area. We anticipate green energy will continue to expand within the mission-critical sector. We’re very excited to support Cherry Street Energy, and additional clients as we implement solar solutions across North America.”
Among these projects will be the largest solar installation yet seen in the state of Georgia. “We’re always focused on improving the plans and reducing the amount of wasted power that goes into a data center,” confirms Marin. “That’s why cutting-edge design is so important; we always make sure we utilize energy in the most efficient way. If we have those initiatives, then our customers are going to gravitate towards us because we compliment those initiatives. We’re driving towards renewable energy to support data centers and help them become more sustainable.”
T5’s award-winning Facilities Management and Operations division, T5FM was also formed in 2014 and now provides third-party mission-critical data center management and operations services, including remote hands, property and asset management, consulting, and training.
The technologies T5 leverages in its data center operations help support its mantra: ‘Forever On’. For a company in the space and cooling business, Marin notes that T5 is also in “the guaranteed lights will never go out business”. Put simply, reliability is everything. “We need to monitor all of those systems,” maintains Marin. “Among the technology initiatives we utilize is predictive analytics. Being able to predict when a piece of equipment is going to fail is vital. Right now, we’re focusing on the piece of gear that gets replaced the most, and that's the battery. Knowing when they need to be refurbished or replaced, saves money and can reduce waste.” He believes we’ll see more data analytics tools deployed in the data center and T5 will embrace that, while improving BMS (Building Management System) and EPMS (Electrical Power Management System) capabilities to guarantee 100% uptime. T5 has served leading companies in IT, finance, insurance, health care, and telecommunications, building a strong reputation for data center reliability as a serial recipient of The Uptime Institute’s Continuous Uptime Award for uninterrupted service
T5’s Senior Vice President & Director of Sales, David Horowitz notes that, even though the data center industry is still in its infancy, five to 10 years from now many of the legacy facilities will be considered outdated. He adds: “As enterprises continue to look to monetize their data centers, either by shifting to the cloud or adopting the wholesale outsourcing model, being smarter in how we design our buildings and by utilizing improvements in technology will be a key factor for us when planning the future for T5.”
T5 has been investing in that future through its alliance with QuadReal. The global real estate investment, operating and development company boasts a $27.4bn portfolio spanning across 23 major cities worldwide and was established to manage the real estate program of British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), one of Canada’s largest asset managers with a $145.6 billion portfolio. In the past year T5 and QuadReal have joined forces by launching a $2.5bn fully integrated platform to develop, acquire and operate data centers. “We were able to raise capital with QuadReal with a long-term view across our differentiated platform of assets and services,” explains Horowitz.
QuadReal had been looking to invest in the data center industry for several years. Horowitz notes the company was attracted to T5 above its competitors for a very good reason. “We offer a full suite of data center services and solutions: asset-based development and leasing, construction services, and facility management and operations. That's our true differentiator that no other competitor in the data center business can offer.”
Marin adds: “There’s plenty of capital out there looking to invest in the data center space, but there’s a very short list of qualified management teams. Most of the providers are just aiming to construct and lease buildings, few also have the expertise to operate them. Our alliance with QuadReal is a game-changer for current and future customers in the enterprise and hyperscale markets, allowing us to build the world’s most advanced and customized data center facilities faster and at scale.”
T5 is equipped to take on the challenges of a demanding marketplace. Marin explains it’s natural for the customer to want the highest quality product at the most competitive price. “Construction costs are increasing,” he adds. “We’re seeing upward pressure on labor costs but in the end, it’s all about our processes and our team. We have a tried and tested approach to managing the people at each of our facilities and the strategy we have for delivering our products and services has proven to be successful.”
That success is leading T5 to nearly triple its staff (from 150 to 400) to support new projects. “After building data centers for more than a decade, we are seeing changes in the market, and so we are adapting our operations and scaling to meet the evolving needs of our customers,” says Marin. T5 is committed to supporting veterans and “we were among the first in the data center industry to recruit former nuclear personnel from the navy,” he reveals. “We find that within that talent pool we’ve been able to identify great candidates to be retrained for the data center business.”
In August this year, T5 was nominated among the top ten places to work in Atlanta, so clearly Marin and his team are on the right path. “We’re a small, private company,” reflects Horowitz. “But we have the communication and the collaboration across the business from our investors, down to the folks in the field, fueling a culture I believe is superior to any of our peers in the industry. We’ve developed this from the ground up by giving everyone on our teams a voice in how we grow the business, implement change and introduce tools to improve our assets while empowering them to speak to our customers.”
And, thanks to T5’s ability to provide customized real estate development solutions, the customers keep coming. “After an extensive national search by a large Fortune 100 company, we were awarded a demanding build-to-suit project designed to meet a client’s exact specifications.,” explains Horowitz. “Because of our collaborative and transparent approach, the project was a great success and we exceeded expectations on all fronts – budget, schedule and now the operations on an ongoing basis.”
Moving forward, T5 will continue to ramp up its efforts. “We’ve been busy acquiring additional land holdings by investing out of our new venture with QuadReal to kick off developments,” reveals Marin. “We’ve purchased land in Portland, Oregon, in Atlanta, Georgia, and we've got land holdings in Charlotte and in Colorado. We also have an active data center in LA and we're getting ready to launch a new project in Dublin, Ireland.” Meanwhile, the company will also focus on growing its services while looking for M&A opportunities that will support the scaling of T5’s platform. “Right now, we’re on target to boost our employee levels to 400 and I can see that growth triple in the coming years,” says Horowitz. “We have a lot of growth in front of us. We’re ready to support the top hyperscale users as they too grow their footprint and, from an operational perspective, put our T5FM stamp on those facilities and reap the rewards from the strong platform we’ve built over the past decade.” T5’s platform for excellence in the data center industry looks set to march forward, forever on.