Different countries can have quite varying views on the ideal place for data center locations. In the UK for example, the market has sought to site facilities in the greater London area, usually within the M25 Orbital Motorway. Perceived disadvantages of moving data centers away from major urban locations include increased latency, reduced ability to easily access physical hardware, and more complex or time consuming logistics for the construction of the facility as well as the ongoing delivery of IT equipment.
However, in the USA and other countries, some companies continue to favor city locations, but a number of leading organizations including internet giants like Google, Facebook, and Apple now have major data center developments outside the usual major conurbations. In fact, there are many advantages to securing a non-urban or even rural location for your data center.
Carefully choosing a location away from urban settings can give your data center the opportunity to lock-in uncontested power supplies – free from the competition of other data centers and industry or office developments. Additionally, there may be the opportunity to locate in an area with greater renewable power, helping to lower the environmental impact of your data center and add positive perceptions of your business.
Setting up a facility away from a city can also bring quality of life benefits to your team. Selecting a suburban location for your data center grants your team the opportunity to move to a less frenetic environment, often with easier commutes and a more pleasant environment for their families. Data center professionals can be well paid, and if they’re moving to live in a cheaper location, it could make for a more comfortable standard of living and ultimately a more contented and loyal workforce.
Contributing to the local economy
Building and running a data center is an expensive exercise in the world’s largest cities, let alone in a smaller community. This kind of investment can have wide and positive impacts on a community, bringing money, visitors, new residents, and jobs into the local economy. This is a positive outcome for the company building and operating the data center, and if the data center is a co-location site, customers are able to contribute to keeping a local economy thriving.
In a number of instances, areas that had formerly been notable for industry and manufacturing have evolved into ideal sites for data centers. Such locations benefit from an existing stock of large buildings, excellent power connectivity and road networks, as well as good access to local, skilled people.
A number of larger cities around the world are located on flood plains. In most cases, major defenses are in place and working well, but an extreme weather event could have major implications for data centers. Global warming has made weather patterns somewhat unpredictable and we’re already seeing the real cost of contingencies to mitigate the far reaching effects of extreme weather events.
Choosing a location that is naturally resilient can help ensure that the site remains operational. By selecting geographically resilient locations around the world, corporations can maximise their ability to stay up and running regardless of any major events that might take place.
Collectively many of these benefits come together as lower costs for the data center operator. For example power supply can be both cheaper to procure and have lower costs to build and operate – like the data center itself. Land costs are lower too and hiring new workers out of major metropolitan areas can also bring reduced staffing costs. In some cases, tax breaks are also available that reduce or exempt the site from certain taxes (e.g. sales taxes) if the facility creates a certain number of local jobs. Collectively these can make a tangible difference in reducing both CAPEX and operating costs, which in turn can improve the economic basis and ultimately profitability of a site.
In this age of global logistics, much IT and physical infrastructure equipment can be factory assembled, integrated, and preconfigured before being shipped for installation at the data center. As communications technology develops, latency has become less of an issue. And with access to willing and skilled local workforces, coupled with resilient and uncontested power supplies, out of town locations make an increasingly appealing proposition for modern data center developments.