Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Location and Mother Nature

While surfing around lately I have seen more discussion on data center location. With data centers going up just about everywhere it seems like a popular topic. Check out this discussion at Digg.com on a Royal Pingdom map for dealing with mother nature. The discussion points out the obvious that the Pingdom map did not account for all natural disasters and things that could potentially harm a data center. Basically, there is not a square foot in the U.S. that is not affected by one of the things mentioned in this discussion.

Microsoft apparently had 31 variables it looked at when selecting San Antonio for its new data center (BTW: what do snowfall and humidity have to do with it!?)

A little bit to the west and we run into the tier 4 Phoenix I/O Data Center. Their site proclaims

"The Phoenix geography and climate provide a stable environment without the risks present in many other cities with collocation facilities. Phoenix/Scottsdale does not experience the same tornado, earthquake, coastal flooding, hurricane nor "mega city" political risks"

They go on to say that Scottsdale is low risk for terrorist activity. Now obviously everyone is going to spin the location angle to their benefit. I'm sure Phoenix falls under a few different categories for mother nature. BTW -- what in the world are people doing still building new facilities with raised floor!!!???? (i/o doing 86k sq.ft of it!) Am I missing something here?

These articles along with the Boyd studies being done and tax incentives being offered by cities make it a topic of discussion for exactly where the 'best' place to locate is. I'm just interested/obsessed enough with the topic that I think I'll attempt a comprehensive list of location selection criteria and see what you think.

3 comments:

chuck goolsbee said...

I'm glad somebody agrees with me about raised floor. I loathe that stuff, but everyone seems enamoured of it! Fine if you are housing mainframes, but completely useless in today's world.

BTW, speaking of spin... up here in our corner of the world our primary risks are geological in nature (if you pardon the pun) and these happen on a geological timescale. Mind you, Mt. Rainier WILL erupt someday, but it could be ten-thousand years from now. We've already lived through a 7.0 earthquake with nothing more than some scratched drywall and a broken monitor. At our historic rates it could be 30 years or more before the next quake of that scale. Meanwhile tornados are thunderstorms, the former non-existent here, and the latter rare as snow in Tuscon, happen on a daily basis in the midwest.

So do you fear the one big event, or the frequent little ones?

For day to day reality, and operations, being in a place with cool, oceanic moderate weather (low cooling costs), and cheap hydroelectric power could be the better choice.

--chuck

John Rath said...

Chuck,
Thanks for the response. I feel the need to respond, since I am from Iowa and push Iowa as the ideal location. :)

Where I work is rated for an F4 tornado and an F5 is about as rare as Mt. Rainier erupting. I think you sum it up quite nicely with fearing one big event or the frequent little ones.

It seems like hurricanes are the big ones that seem to happen most frequently, which is why it surprises me that there are as many data centers in Florida as there are.

The other aspect to think about is how much extra it costs to build your data center to be prepared for the natural disaster of choice (i.e. rating for tornadoes or special bracing for earthquakes).

seattleoogle said...

How do you brace for an earthquake? Ridge bolting I thought was the worst thing you can do.