Since 1999, Stream Data Centers has acquired, developed, and operated more than 3 million square feet of data center space, representing over 200 megawatts of power across Texas, Minnesota, and Colorado. In February, the Dallas-based company broke ground on a 145,000-square-foot data center that is expandable up to 265,000 square feet. The center, named DFW VI, sits on a 14-acre site in Legacy Business Park in Plano.
Michael Lahoud, who has managed SDC’s critical facilities and technology practice since 2010, was recently promoted to COO of SDC. Lahoud is responsible for implementing the company’s overall business strategies and go-to-market operations, including the expansion of Stream’s Hyperscale Solutions and Critical Environments practice, a top priority for SDC. D CEO Real Estate spoke with Lahoud about SDC’s plans for growth in Dallas-Fort Worth, and where he sees the company “moving up” in the data-center ranks.
D CEO Real Estate: How did you find your way to the data center industry after college?
Lahoud: Out of college my first job was with Bell Helicopter as an avionics engineer, and one of the guys I studied engineering with at TCU was talking about how great of a job he had. I liked what he described and ended up interviewing at APC (prior to the Schneider Electric acquisition) in Fort Worth when they had an opening and got an offer. I took the offer and the rest is history.
D CEO Real Estate: What makes Dallas a “hot spot” for data centers?
Lahoud: There are a lot of variables, but in general the majority of the growth in our industry is fueled by deal economics and how affordable it is to build a building in a given market. Dallas has a pretty good, competitive climate with the actual development process for data centers—and there’s good economic incentive from the standpoint of low utility cost. Texas, in general, is one of the cheaper power markets in the country right now; there’s lots of fiber, it’s a central location, and a great workforce, which all play into the decisions that fuel the growth in our market.
D CEO Real Estate: What’s in the works for expanding Stream’s Hyperscale Solutions and Critical Environments practice?
Lahoud: We’re looking at other markets, either growing in the new market for hyperscale and/or doubling down in markets we’re already in. Dallas is a market we’re continuing to invest in, and the Minnesota region in general is a market we’re going to continue to invest in from the hyperscale perspective. We’re also looking at entering new markets, so that’s going to be part of our strategy. We’ll announce those once they start to get more formal. In regards to the Critical Environments services, now that we’ve formalized the practice, we’re going to start offering it to our existing customers that are clients at our data centers. A lot of them have facilities that they own themselves, so we’re going to position it as a service that we can offer in client-owned facilities and continue to market the service to the industry at large.
D CEO Real Estate: In your new role as COO, what are some short-term and long-term goals you have set for yourself?
Lahoud: I’ll start with long-term. We’ve been in the industry for a long time, and in a lot of ways were probably one of the more seasoned companies in the industry—we’ve been in it for close to 20 years. One of the big things I’m looking to do is lift our voice as a thought leader in the industry, and that’s going to take time. We’re there to an extent in some circles, but we want to continue to contribute thought leadership on a bigger scale. Through that you build the trusted partner status, and that’s ultimately what we’re going for with all our customers and prospective customers. Short-term is officially launching the Hyperscale product and officially launching the Critical Environment practice and making sure that gets handled correctly from both the messaging perspective and delivery, which is the most important part. We can talk about it all we want, but if we don’t deliver it’s not going to be very successful.
D CEO Real Estate: What does the data center industry look like for DFW in the near future?
Lahoud: I think we will continue to see existing operators in the area grow and see new guys enter the market. Depending on who you talk to, we’re definitely in the top 5 data center markets, and I could see us continuing to grow and climb that list. I could also see us moving up the ranks in the top cloud markets. Overall, you’re going to see healthy growth, and I think the goal of everybody in this market is being smart with their investments. I think that will allow everyone in the market to provide a good product and good services to the industry at large.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.