Signs Point To Amazon Data Center Expansion

The e-retailer and cloud services vendor has reportedly purchased 10 acres in eastern Oregon to be used for an expanding data center footprint along the Columbia River.
Amazon’s Oregon Data Center
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Slideshow: Amazon’s Oregon Data Center

With its e-retail and cloud computing businesses booming, appears to be expanding its data center capacity along the Columbia River in Oregon.

Commissioners of the Port of Umatilla, located 180 miles east of Portland, agreed this month to sell 10 acres to Amazon subsidiary Vadata Inc. for $146,850, according to the Eastern Oregonian. Two months earlier, Amazon purchased 35 acres at the Port of Morrow, a Columbia River business center about 18 miles West of Umatilla, according to the paper. It cites unnamed economic developers as speculating that the properties will be used by Amazon to establish redundant data center facilities.

This would give Vadata, a legal entity of Amazon that is seldom mentioned by the company, three parcels of land in the same general vicinity of eastern Oregon. Vadata has already broken ground on a 120,000-square-foot data center on a 60-acre parcel at the Port of Morrow. That construction project was put on hold last year amid the economic recession, though local reports indicated that the project would be restarted.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on any of the three properties. "Development and speculation of data center locations is not something we will discuss," she said via e-mail. "What I can tell you is that we are committed to continuously providing customers with highly available technology resources in the cloud. We are pleased to be able to quickly expand our infrastructure as needed to meet the growing demands of our customers."

Oregon Business magazine reported in August that the second and smaller of the two parcels at the Port of Morrow would be used by Amazon for a "satellite" of the nearby data center already under construction.

Amazon is presumably expanding data center capacity to accommodate its fast-growing businesses, including Amazon Web Services. Amazon's overall revenue jumped 39% to $7.56 billion in the third quarter, driven by a 68% increase in sales (to $3.97 billion) of electronics and merchandise. Amazon lumps Amazon Web Services revenue in a financial category called "other." Those sales, while only 3% of the company's overall business, climbed 48%, to $240 million, in the third quarter.

Amazon recently partnered with Apptis to offer infrastructure as a service to the federal government through the General Services Administration's portal. Government agencies and programs that had already signed on to AWS include, the National Archives, the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. To support such growth, Amazon last year leased 110,000 square feet in northern Virginia, according to Data Center Knowledge.

With plentiful land and an abundance of hydro- and wind-powered energy, Oregon and neighboring Washington state have emerged as a popular region for Web companies and other data center operators to locate facilities. Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all operate data centers in the area.

For more, see "First Look At Oregon's Data Center" and "Google's Scenic Oregon Data Center."