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Commercial Real Estate

Brant Bernet: A Car Ride to Florida and Data Centers

To modify a quote from 20th century philosopher Jeff Foxworthy, "If you drive one car to the panhandle of Florida with your wife, five grown children, and two big dogs, just so you can trailer your beach toys and a couple of bicycles ... you might be a redneck.” That was the scene at the Bernet house this past Christmas break.
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Brant Bernet

Twentieth century philosopher Jeff Foxworthy once said, “If you ask your wife to sit in the truck bed so your dog will be comfortable in the cab … you might be a redneck.” Although it is wise for me to not even think those words, I’m pretty sure I pass the redneck sniff-test all the same. How about this one: ”If you drive one car to the panhandle of Florida with your wife, five grown children, and two big dogs, just so you can trailer your beach toys and a couple of bicycles … you might be a redneck.” That was the scene at the Bernet house this past Christmas break.

Oil change—check; pure nitrogen in the tires (“for a smoother ride”)—check; cookies for the trip that will be eaten before we get out of Dallas—check; three boys in the middle row (my two boys home from college and a nephew in from LA; all three are big boys, 6’3″+)—check; third seat down, and pallet built for our four girls (two daughters, two dogs)—check; mama in the passenger seat and ol’ dad (with the most room) in the command module—check. If fact, had I closed my eyes (something I only did for a few minutes between Jackson and Hattiesburg), I could have been on a leisurely drive to the office. All that and a U-Haul trailer filled with everything we own, and off we went.

Actually, that’s a lie, the departure wasn’t quite that smooth. The family knew that we were “wheels up” at 0500, which is why my oldest had his buddy drop him off at 0459—just enough time to brush his teeth and go to sleep in his seat—but that is another blog.

Anyway, all present and accounted for, and off we went like a herd of turtles. It was crowded, and with the trailer, all my stops had to be strategic—no tight spots for this trucker. Side note: Do you remember the beer commercial with the guy miserably trying to back his new boat into his garage while his neighbor is just looking at him, shaking his head in embarrassment? That guy (the driver, not the neighbor) is me.

Did I mention that it was crowded? Lunchtime was especially cozy. Bags of trash being ripped to shreds by the dogs (or was it the boys?); French fries everywhere; dogs fighting for scraps (or was it the boys?); etc., etc. Despite being loaded down and getting around 8 gallons to the mile, we made it: 739.8 miles door to door, each way. No fights, no major mishaps, heck they didn’t even spill a drink! By some wonderful act of God, we made it in one piece and totally without incident.

The data center world is getting a bit crowded these days. In fact, I read a press release by international finance researcher, BroadGroup, which said that merger and acquisition activity in the data center sector “generated more than $12.3 billion in deal value globally in 2011.” Last year, several massive deals by companies such as KKR, Silver Lake, Go Daddy, PAETEC, Windstream, CenturyLink, Savvis, and others closed. Digital Realty alone raised $1.5 billion, and Global Switch followed suit with a bond issue that was just shy of $1 billion. The industry is on fire.

And how about this, Gartner, one of the world’s largest information technology research companies, predicts that hardware spending in data centers will be well over $100 billion (coincidentally, Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil held the world ransom for the exact same amount of money … hmmmm) in 2012, and more than $125 billion in 2015! The funny thing is, with all this spending, with all this activity, with all the would-be chaos, the industry is running remarkably smoothly.

Telephone companies are recognizing the profitability of their managed-services cousins: Verizon + Terremark; Cincinnati Bell + CyrusOne; Windstream + Hosted Solution/PAETEC; and the list goes on. I am not alone in my belief that this industry is just pulling out of the driveway, and I will be carefully watching as they navigate the potholes, the traffic, and the many bathroom breaks.

As for me and my brood, we spent seven glorious days in Florida. The weather cooperated, and we were able to spend time with 24 of other family members. On several occasions, we had all of us crammed in our little rented beach house—kids ranging from 2 to 25 years old, celebrating the season and our happy reunion. The chaos just worked; so let it be with data centers!

Brant Bernet is co-founder and managing director of Lincoln Rackhouse. Contact him at [email protected].

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