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Why Waco? A Deeper Look At zColo’s New Colocation Facility

Zayo founded its data center business, zColo, on a highly interconnect-oriented model of colocation. As we have evolved organically and through acquisition, we have added a unique mix of facilities to our portfolio. We now have 62 highly connected data centers in the US, Western Europe, and Canada ranging from expansive suburban 2N facilities to resilient network-focused sites in major commercial districts.

One of our newest stateside facilities, located in Waco, Texas, complements our growing portfolio in Dallas and carries with it some unique attributes.

We have invested heavily in our Dallas communications and network infrastructure, including an almost $200M fiber-to-the-tower project. We now have five data center facilities in the market, including the former Stream facility at 1100 Empire Central Pl. Our strategy in Dallas is to provide larger, more robust colocation deployments in the downtown vicinity and tether back to space-constrained or expensive carrier hotels leveraging Zayo’s dark fiber, or 10G/100G wavelength network.

Dallas is the sixth largest colocation market in the world — beating out Los Angeles, Chicago and Singapore. Enterprises and carriers alike are tripping over themselves to get space in this ultra-connected, centrally located market.

Why were we talking about Waco — nearly 100 miles south of Dallas?

Waco is a small city in Central Texas, situated between Dallas, Austin, and Houston. Its unique geographic location makes it connectivity’s best-kept secret. Many important networks travel straight through Waco, including Zayo, AT&T, Fiber Light, Time Warner Cable, and Level 3, making Waco an important junction for networks traveling in and out of the Dallas metro area.

However, beyond the clear connectivity and network infrastructure benefits lies a more robust answer: Disaster Recovery.

Waco is Disaster Proof

In 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston (less than an hour southeast of Houston). In fact, since 1980 at least 70 tropical or subtropical cyclones have affected the state of Texas. Hurricane Ike was blamed for at least 195 deaths, 113 in Texas alone. Damage from Ike to the US Coastline totaled nearly $30 billion. It was the third costliest Atlantic hurricane of all time.

Waco was a high level of natural protection from hurricanes, as it sits outside of the 500-year flood zone. Our Waco data center, located at 700 Austin Avenue, only has a 0.02 percent annual chance of a flood. The area is also well protected by levees.

Surrounding metros areas seem to always have power issues. Recently, heavy storms knocked out power for over 20,000 users in Austin. Additionally, more than half a million users lost power around Dallas when two thunderstorms hit North Texas within four days of each other.

Waco operates on a power grid separate from Texas’ major city systems. This provides an advantage during potential blackouts or brownouts. The facility incorporates a dual transformer commercial power feed configuration to provide extra resilience to critical power systems. The commercial power is backed by a dual diesel generator with 2000KW 3-phase electrical ratings to provide uninterrupted power during any potential power outages or brownouts.

But what if disaster does strike Waco?

Waco has been no stranger to natural disasters. In May 1953, a deadly tornado struck Waco, destroying 2,000 buildings and causing 114 deaths. To mitigate future disasters, our facility was built to withstand the worst the world could throw at it. And at the time, that meant natural disasters and nuclear warfare.

Because it was built as a nuclear fallout shelter, the facility can withstand a direct hit from a Category 4 tornado. It has steel reinforced concrete construction and pillars that run from the roof of the building through the basement floor and an additional 33 feet (10 meters) below the building to rest on the bedrock beneath along with four foot skirts at the top. The additional skirt at the top allows for weight distribution on the floor and anti-pancaking of the floors above in case of catastrophic damage to the building. The floors of the facility are constructed on 18 inches (45 cm) of steel reinforced concrete.

Why Waco? The Answer Is Clear:

  • zColo’s Waco colocation facility lies outside the 500-year flood zone
  • It sits on its own power grid
  • The facility can withstand a Category 4 tornado – and even withstand nuclear war.

On top of all this, it sits on the communication highway connecting Dallas to the rest of Texas. When considering these benefits, the more appropriate question may be: “What took us so long?

Request a tour of our Waco data center facility.