DATA centres are shaping up as the next growth sector for investors as more companies look to house their expanding information technology infrastructure off-site.
This is providing companies with an increased capacity to process, store and analyse high volumes of customer and transaction data quickly and cost effectively.
The Australian Securities Exchange was one of the first higher-profile organisations to invest in the sector when it moved its data to the new $400 million Gore Hill data centre in NSW in 2011.
British group Global Switch was the first significant entrant into the data centre sector in Australia. It opened in Sydney in 2000 and secured Macquarie Bank as its first customer.
The latest entrant is the US-based Digital Realty Trust, a major competitor to Global Switch.
Digital Realty is first and foremost a property REIT, which buys and develops sites that are then leased back to companies for their data centres. The group generates income as a rent-collecting REIT and the tenants do their own internal fitouts. The warehouses can be leased on a 1000-square-metre "pod" within a larger building, or they can take out the whole site.
Digital Realty's first foray into Australia was with the National Australia Bank's complex at Deer Park.
According to NAB it is a multi-year, multibillion-dollar investment to transform its total IT environment. This includes the bank's core system (NextGen) and applications, infrastructure, network and culture.
The centre will feature the next generation of data centre innovation and is among a few of a similar standard in Australia.
Each "hall" has two uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and three back-up generators. Each UPS is in its own fireproof cell.
Digital Realty's senior vice-president and regional head, Asia Pacific, Kris Kumar, said the data centre REIT sector was tipped to expand as companies struggled to store their data.
"The global footprint of this sector is growing fast. We find the greenfield sites and develop them for the customers," he said.
Agents say they are also getting more inquiries from companies wanting to store e-commerce documents.