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AWS will invest $35B to expand its Virginia data center presence

Amazon Web Services Inc. will invest $35 billion by 2040 to build new data center infrastructure in Virginia.

The investment plan was announced today. As part of the initiative, AWS will establish new data center campuses in “multiple regions” of Virginia. The exact locations of the data center campuses have not yet been decided.

AWS organizes its cloud data centers into so-called infrastructure regions. Each such region contains multiple data centers that have separate power and networking infrastructure. If one of the facilities experiences a localized technical issue, the others can continue operating reliably.

Most AWS regions comprise three availability zones, each of which includes one or more data centers. AWS’ region in Virginia has six availability zones. It came online in 2006, the year the cloud giant launched its Amazon S3 object storage service and the Amazon EC2 instance portfolio.

Besides six availability zones, the Virginia infrastructure region also includes multiple AWS Local Zones and AWS Wavelength Zones. A Local Zone is a miniature AWS data center located near a major metropolitan area or industrial hub. Wavelength Zones are based on similar concept, but they’re optimized to support edge computing use cases that rely on 5G carrier networks.

AWS has invested more than $35 billion in Virginia since 2006. The cloud giant employs over 3,500 full-time staffers at its data centers in the state and expects to create at least 1,000 more jobs as part of the investment plan announced today.

“Virginia is a world leader in innovation and cloud computing, thanks to its investment in a robust, highly-skilled workforce and emphasis on long-term public and private partnerships,” said Roger Wehner, the director of economic development at AWS. “Since 2006, AWS has invested more than $35 billion in Virginia, boosting the Commonwealth’s total Gross Domestic Product by nearly $7 billion and supporting thousands of jobs annually.”

Virginia state officials are preparing an initiative dubbed the Mega Data Center Incentive Program to support the investment. The initiative, which is pending approval by the Virginia General Assembly, would extend data center sales and use tax exemptions on “qualifying equipment and enabling software” at AWS facilities. The extension would run for up to 15 years. 

AWS will also be eligible to receive a state grant worth up to $140 million. The grant is intended “for site and infrastructure improvements, workforce development, and other project-related costs.”

Alongside the upcoming Virginia data centers, AWS plans to build five new infrastructure regions in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and Thailand. The cloud giant also intends to add 15 more availability zones worldwide. The new infrastructure will join the 96 availability zones and 30 regions that AWS currently operates.

AWS rival Microsoft Corp. is also moving to expand its data center presence in Virginia. Last April, it was reported that the company had proposed building a new cloud data center in the city of Manassas. A few months later, Microsoft filed paperwork to build another cloud facility on a 259.1-acre campus in Clarksville. 

Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr

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