The rise of off-site data centers for the collection, storage and
protection of business information is driven largely by greater awareness
of the value of data and the risks of loss or theft. For those involved in
this fast-growing business, it’s crucial to understand best practices and
how to manage risks associated with data centers and collection.
Dale Mullen, who leads McGuireWoods’
data centers team, has represented providers of reliable, critical infrastructure for most
of his career. Over the past three decades, that has increasingly included
helping private developers of expanding internet infrastructure as they
navigate government and regulatory issues in locations best suited for
data centers development —
especially Virginia, the epicenter of the explosive growth of the data centers business.
Mullen recently answered a few questions about data centers and what
businesses need to know to succeed.
What are the ideal conditions for a data center to flourish?
To use Virginia as an example, we have seen an explosion of data centers
activity in recent years due to three key factors: (1) strong economic
incentives, (2) availability of internet infrastructure and (3) proximity
to government, the service industry and large workforces. The mid-Atlantic,
especially Virginia, is known for its strength developing business and
industry. With the proximity to Washington, D.C., it is no wonder
developers, operators and businesses that serve data centers are flocking
to Old Dominion.
What kind of businesses can benefit from the growth of data centers?
The resulting economic development is of interest to many of our clients,
who include developers, investors, data centers, service providers and
users across all major industries. The incentives and demand that led to
the exponential growth in data centers also has increased the need for
power to operate and cool the data systems. Major corporations that utilize
data centers are challenging their providers to match their commitment to
renewable energy, creating opportunities for the renewable energy industry.
How does McGuireWoods’ data centers team help those businesses?
On the front end, we handle real estate issues relating to site selection,
entitlements, land use and permitting necessary for site utilization. These
site selection decisions frequently involve a deep understanding of
financing options and tax incentives.
However, regulatory compliance remains one of the most important parts of
what we do for clients. Educating and advising clients on environmental,
health and safety, and the data privacy and data retention requirements of
the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer
Privacy Act — and determining whether our clients’ providers or those of a
potential acquisition target are in compliance — are major components of
Renewable energy, sustainability, carbon fuel reduction and environmental
compliance concerns always are at the front of regulatory compliance
Our strong energy history and deep understanding of how to negotiate the
challenges and complex agreements necessary to provide power for industrial
use make us ideally suited for addressing cutting-edge issues related to
environmental concerns and the demand for renewable energy.