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Brant Bernet: Frogs, Home, and Your Data Center

Brant Bernet

Valentine’s Day, the one day a year when a guy can buy a wilting bunch of roses for twice the normal price at 6:30 p.m. on his way home from work and be praised for not forgetting. “Here you go honey, your favorite!”

With Valentine’s Day in our review mirror, spring (in Texas) isn’t far away.

I love the spring. Warm days, cool nights, backyard BBQs, the smell of freshly cut grass, hot dogs and beer at the ballpark … and frogs. As we all learned in grade school, frogs spend the cold winter months snoozing; they literally shut down their bodies and hibernate, while all of us other, less evolved animals continue to work. ”Don’t worry Kermit, I got your back.”

I’m told that a frog’s innards can actually freeze and stop working while they sleep, only to get Mother Nature’s jump start when the temperatures warm up again. When the frogs wake up, they are both hungry and, well, you know … another “h” word.

A few years ago, the Bernet Science Project was alive and well in our little backyard pond. It seems that a few (eight, to be exact) freeloading drifter frogs decided to catch up on a little sleep in late December and wound up sleeping right thru the Super Bowl and the Grammys. It was about 2 a.m. when I found myself in a boat, surrounded by water and dense fog, surprisingly comfortable, but with an ear shattering chorus of Bullfrog Rhapsody wafting thru the air. Then BOOM! Granddaddy croaker let out a yell that finally jolted me out of my dream, and almost out of my bed.

It was mid-March, and our frog family finally decided to get up and pay the bill. But, before they left, all of the males decided that they would bark out a few dozen mating calls. You can’t believe how loud a little frog can be. After 30 minutes, my wife asked if I was really sleeping thru all the racket. Because admitting that I was awake meant that I was going to be forced to go outside and do something about it, I gave a little snort and turned over. A few minutes later, however, I, too, had had enough.

I had no idea what I was going to do. What am I, a frog whisperer? But, out I went, into the noisy, crisp night. I strapped on my trusty headband flashlight, found the rake and started plucking the little guys out of the pond one by one.

I was more than a little irritated and still half asleep, so putting them in a shallow bucket made a great deal of sense at the time…until they all hopped out. I finally found a makeshift lid for the bucket and after a miserable hour of scrambling and falling and cursing, I had all eight in the bag and was halfway down the alley. At that point, I could have cared less if they sang to one of my neighbors, just so long as they were out of earshot from my warm bed.

With the crisis averted, the backyard silent, I slipped under the covers and started counting sheep. As I started to drift off, the fluffy, white sheep started to turn into noisy, moss covered frogs! What was this, had I missed some? Impossible! More frogs, more courting, and more missed sleep.

I’ve spent a great deal of time outside of my home state of Texas in the past year. Like my amphibious caretakers, I thought I would come home and croak a little about the data center activity in Dallas. I can’t imagine a more active data center market than Dallas today. Hammers are swinging and lights are blinking.

Just a month ago, T5 Data Centers’ Pete Marin said, “Building on the successful lease-up of the first phase of T5Dallas (Plano – Legacy), T5 Data Centers has initiated construction on Phase II.” The copmany even picked up an adjoining 16-acre tract, just in case Phase III is needed.

And, how about the recent QTS (Quality Technology Services) announcement? It just wrapped up a deal to buy the former Maxim Semiconductor plant in Irving. With 700,000 square feet under roof and an “on-site 140MW dual-fed substation;” it has all the makings for another large wholesale offering.

Stream Realty has announced the completion of two of its three “Private Data Center Suites” in its 73,000-square-foot Richardson facility. These 1.125kW private suites are easily expandable to 2.250kW, giving them a note of unique flexibility.

And back in October of 2012, five short months ago, Digital Realty announced that it had hired KDC to build two 122,000-square-foot powered shells on its Richardson campus. Those buildings are now up, and turnkey pods are being deployed.

This is just a small example of the expansion that is rolling through Dallas. And believe it or not, demand seems to be keeping up.

Like homing pigeons, the displaced frogs did in fact find their way back to our pond that night. Clearly, the diversion irritated them, because they were noisier than before. At this point, we were only an hour away from sun up, and I knew my night was over. Back to the bucket, back to the rake. But this time, not back to the alley. Nope. This time, my daughters and I went the extra block and ceremoniously plopped them down in the Caruth Park creek. It seemed perfect for them. Surely the creek, with all its nooks and crannies, mud, and female frogs, would keep them from returning home.

So far, they have stayed away. I’ll try not to be so distant.

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