data center (Gorodenkoff/

Keeping the lights on in Northern Virginia’s data centers

Quick coordination between Loudoun County, Va., and the region’s 350 data center operators and tenants is ensuring that government, businesses and consumers can access telecommunications, streaming, data storage and processing services, even as they shelter in place.


How data centers power Virginia's Loudoun County

Bandwidth and connectivity have attracted data services and cloud providers to the Northern Virginia county that reaps a large tax return on its investment. Read more.

Northern Virginia is the largest data center market in the world, according to a January report by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, with Loudoun, Prince William and Henrico counties housing the largest concentrations of data centers in Virginia.

After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay at home order on March 30, the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development swung into action to coordinate response among local data centers. The department quickly became “the central hub for managing industry needs through the crisis, helping ensure that power stays flowing, pleas of public sector customers are being heard, and civil engineers are available to survey sites and lay foundations,” according to a report in Data Center Knowledge.

First off, the department created a task force and appointed Phillip Sandino, a consultant and former RagingWire VP of operations, to coordinate efforts among businesses and state and local officials to ensure that facilities have power, water for cooling and reliable fiber connections, and that data center staff have letters to show law enforcement officers on patrol that they are essential workers in accordance with guidance issued March 16 by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Loudoun Economic Development is also planning subject-specific leader roundtables to help local sites overcome obstacles caused by a prolonged pandemic, including issues related to facility construction and maintenance. It’s also keeping an eye on the supply chain, which may be affected by fallout from de-globalization, Sandino said, as disruptions in other countries may affect manufacturing and shipping of essential equipment for data center operations and construction.

Adopting a mutual-aid model, could help regional data centers leverage their contacts to address problems.

“I think it’s important that we are able to anticipate what issues might be,” Loudoun Economic Development’s Executive Director Buddy Rizer told Data Center Knowledge. “But I think it’s also important that we are responsive to the people who are on the ground. One way is by making sure we have that constant communication.”

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


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