Fairfax County: Ideal location for CoreSite data center facilities: Q&A with Juan Font, President and CEO of CoreSite, SVP of U.S. Tower

CoreSite, an American Tower company, provides colocation services enabling enterprises, network providers and digital platforms to build and deploy custom hybrid IT strategies that monetize and future-proof business. CoreSite’s presence in Northern Virginia includes three data centers in Reston, Fairfax County, that will total over 1.3 million square feet of colocation data center space upon full build-out.

CoreSite’s highly interconnected data center campuses offer a native digital supply chain featuring direct cloud onramps to enable its customers to build customized hybrid IT infrastructure and accelerate digital transformation.

Juan Font, President and CEO of CoreSite, and Senior Vice President at U.S. Tower, talked to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) about the company and why Reston is a great location for three of its data centers.

Font is responsible for leading CoreSite’s strategy, innovation, growth, and colleagues while delivering value to customers, partners, shareholders, and communities where CoreSite and American Tower (a Fortune 500 company based in Boston, Ma.) operate. He has held positions of increasing responsibility within the organization since 2010 and brings more than 20 years of experience in general management, direct sales, business operations and finance in the data center and telecommunications industries.

FCEDA: Please provide an overview of what CoreSite does.

Juan Font: CoreSite is a preeminent operator of data centers in the United States. Our focus is on enabling interconnection between networks, clouds, and enterprises, and we operate over 4.7 million square feet of data center capacity in the United States. We serve 10 markets and operate 28 data centers.

FCEDA: Your website announces that CoreSite is at the intersection of interconnection. What does that mean for your customers?

Juan Font: What that means is that we bring together digital communities of networks, enterprises, and cloud and enable them to interoperate and exchange data — and that is the underpinning of our digital economy.

FCEDA: How does the intersection of interconnection between CoreSite and Fairfax County benefit the region?

Juan Font: CoreSite is one of the crown jewels of Fairfax County. “On the entire Eastern seaboard, there are only two or three data center campuses where clouds have native deployments that can be accessed directly. I would argue that direct access to cloud providers is a magnet for many enterprises that choose Fairfax County as a destination for colocation, creating an immediate competitive advantage.”

FCEDA: Please describe your purpose-built data center facilities in Fairfax County.

Juan Font: Our presence in Fairfax County dates back to 2008 with the acquisition of a property it named VA1 located in Reston on Sunrise Valley Drive. It used to be AOL’s headquarters — so it was pretty much the very origin of the Internet, and there’s a lot of access to fiber in that building. We developed that building and subsequently built VA2 next to it.

VA2 is a 200,000-square-foot facility with 12 megawatts of power. Once we developed that building, we acquired VA3, called Sunrise Technology Park, a 23-acre property where we have developed 15 megawatts to date. Although we have 1.3 million square feet of capacity in our Reston data center campus, you have access to over 65 networks, including metro providers or fiber global carriers, subsea cables. We also have direct access to all the major cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services, IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle. We have secured multiple megawatts of power for incremental growth, and we’re one of the very few places in the region that has inventory. So, we continue growing and developing to serve the demand here in Fairfax County.

FCEDA: When and where was CoreSite founded and when did you open your Fairfax County locations?

Juan Font: CoreSite was founded in 2001, so about 23 years ago, with the acquisition of One Wilshire in Los Angeles. That is the preeminent carrier hotel on the West Coast, one of the most interconnected buildings in the United States. Subsequent to that, we built a portfolio of carrier hotels and data center campuses. And in Fairfax County specifically, we started in 2008 with the acquisition of AOL, its headquarters on Sunrise Valley Drive.

FCEDA: What is unique about CoreSite compared to other players in the industry?

Juan Font: First and foremost, native, direct access to all the major cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute, Oracle, and IBM. This cannot be overstated. In the region, you have maybe 30 or 40 providers right here in Virginia. There are only two places where you can directly plug into the cloud with a direct piece of fiber that basically has zero latency, is very secure and has the lowest cost of operation. That is accessible right here. We also have a unique customizable approach to customer deployments. Enterprises have very unique requirements in terms of security, power densities, scalability, and network access. And what we built here is very customized. If you travel around the region, many of the data centers are nothing more than basically server warehouses. What we provide is a very customized solution for enterprises. And the third component I would say that is a differentiator is our customer-friendly approach. We are extremely customer-focused on everything we do from the first tour of the facility to the ongoing support to our customers. And then lastly, this industry is extremely capital intensive and we have a very, very strong balance sheet combination of American Tower and Stonepeak that enables us to continue investing and developing and growth for our customers.

FCEDA: Please describe your data center campus in Fairfax County.

Juan Font: This data center campus comprises about 1.3 million square feet of capacity. Between VA1, VA2, and VA3, we have built 40 megawatts, making us the largest data center provider in Fairfax County,” he added. “At full build, VA3 will become a 100 megawatts campus. We have invested over half a billion dollars of infrastructure here, have access to over 65 networks, whether it is metro fiber providers, global carriers and even subsea cables that have direct access to the major cloud on ramps. These are the gateways that connect enterprises to the cloud, and that includes Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute, Oracle, and IBM.

FCEDA: How does the strategic location of CoreSite data centers in Reston and Fairfax County benefit the residents of Northern Virginia?

Juan Font: This investment is great for Northern Virginia. First of all, we are the largest provider of data center capacity in . We were one of the first to qualify for a Commonwealth of Virginia data center tax incentive program, which basically involved us creating 50 net new jobs, paying over 50 percent of the median income for Reston, and we have far exceeded that. We hire a lot from the veteran community, about 37 percent of our data center technicians are veterans. We’re very proud of the fact that we have a training program where we can bring in low level technicians and develop them through the years and rise through the ranks. We also work in tandem with the local community, for example, with Northern Virginia Community College. We helped develop a data center curriculum, and we look to hire from that program. So, we’re very involved in the community. But then, of course, as I mentioned earlier, the fact that you can access your entire digital supply chain with a single cross connect in one location is extremely beneficial for enterprises. One last thing I would add is that we help remove carbon footprint from Fairfax County by virtue of moving data centers from enterprises that build themselves into CoreSite that we operate much more efficiently. So that is also a benefit in terms of the sustainability of  Fairfax County at large.

FCEDA: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Juan Font: One of the things that we’re very proud of that we hire a lot of veterans in the region. About 37 percent of our data center technicians are veterans. And we’re very proud of the program where we can bring them in at a lower level, maybe a security job, and then train them on technical skills. They can grow through the ranks over time.

CoreSite has invested over a half-billion dollars of infrastructure here. Fairfax County also benefits from the resulting tax revenue that CoreSite generates. “We project to invest at least another half billion dollars over time, and that provides a very bountiful source of tax revenue for Fairfax County.