The Basic Factors to Consider in Data Center Site Selection
by Michael Rareshide, on Apr 11, 2023 8:00:00 AM
Data centers are critical components of modern business infrastructure, providing computing resources and storage capacity for companies of all sizes and industry types. With the rise of big data and the ever-increasing need for digital processing and storage, the importance of selecting the right location for a data center has never been more significant.
Today, many advances in technology and fiber have mitigated these risks and enabled a data center to be located in any Tier 1 metro area as well as many smaller, tertiary metro areas. In this blog, Site Selection Group explores some of the major factors to consider when embarking on your next data center site selection search.
Power and resilience
Available reliable power capacity and its costs are the essential factors in selecting a data center site. Utilities are one of the top operating expense lines for the data center, which needs to have access to a reliable and robust power grid to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. Data centers have high multi-megawatt power density requirements, meaning that the site should have the ability to support high power loads without causing power quality issues or damaging the electrical infrastructure.
The total megawatt load to operate one data center can equal the same usage of tens of thousands of households. So just as important, the site should be able to generate power through alternative sources such as solar or wind energy. Increasingly, many data center operators prioritize the use of renewable energy sources to minimize their carbon footprint and support sustainability goals. This will provide additional resilience to the data center in the event of a power outage or other disaster.
To ensure continuous uptime, the data center must have redundant power systems, such as multiple power sources, battery backup and generators. This ensures that the data center can continue to operate even in the event of a power outage or failure.
Connectivity is another critical factor in selecting a site for your data center. A data center should have multiple fiber paths from different carriers, as well as backup fiber connections in case of outages. By locating near major internet exchanges, network access points, and multiple fiber optic carriers, the data center client can choose from among a variety of carriers and service providers, giving them more flexibility and control over their network connections. It’s also essential to ensure that the site has redundant network connections to avoid downtime in case of any network failure.
Given that data usage and internet traffic continue to increase exponentially, the same proximity to multiple carriers also allows for the client to scale its fiber connectivity to meet future needs. This means having the ability to add more fiber connections as demand increases and being able to upgrade to faster fiber technologies as they become available.
Security is a key factor in data center site selection. The data center should be selected with security in mind, reducing the risk of data breaches and ensuring the safety of sensitive information. The site should be located in a safe and secure area, away from high crime areas, natural disasters and other potential risks. Physical access to the data center should be tightly controlled using measures such as card readers, biometric scanners and security guards. The perimeter of the data center should also be secured with fencing, gates and cameras.
Within the facility, the data center should have strong network security measures in place, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems and encryption protocols. The data center should comply with relevant regulatory and industry standards for security, such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and SOC 2.
Overall, the most critical factors for real estate in data center site selection are power, fiber connectivity, water access, security, accessibility, zoning and permits, and cost. Some of these items were already discussed, but the real estate and speed-to-market of the site are important factors in selecting a data center location. Building a data center requires a specialized construction process that involves installing specialized equipment and infrastructure to support the technology. In addition, the land acquisition and skilled labor for both the construction and then operation of the data center are major costs.
It’s important to consider the cost of rent, utilities, taxes and other expenses when selecting a site for your data center as they substantially affect the profitability of the operation. The site should have competitive real estate prices and reasonable tax rates to minimize operating costs. The good news is that many communities offer substantial economic incentives to help offset some of the substantial infrastructure costs needed to get a data center operational, so companies should seek these statutory and discretionary incentives when available. Companies should also seek out a business-friendly regulatory environment that supports data center operations.
The selection of a data center site is a critical decision that can impact the reliability, security and performance of your IT infrastructure. that requires careful consideration of various factors such as connectivity, power, security and real estate. In each case, these are “million-dollar decisions” that can determine the overall success of the site.
By taking the time to assess your needs and evaluate potential sites, you can ensure that your data center will be well-positioned to meet the demands of your business and provide reliable and secure data storage and processing capabilities. If you need help finding your next data center, Site Selection Group can assist with your search utilizing a proven data center site selection methodology.