The Data Center
I have been in big IT for over 18 years. I have seen data centers grow from back rooms and basements to multi-million dollar facilities with fences, security, and other features. With all this planning there is still something that can go wrong and lately I have been thinking about what the perfect data center would look like. What would perfection cost and is it obtainable? Certainly not most would add and like anything in life it’s impossible to predict everything that could cause you pain in a well planned out data center. I say a hosting company today that is selling server hosting and web hosting and the office is located in down town San Francisco. I am not making this up. They have a nice 5 story building in the heart of downtown and while I am sure they have done everything to keep it from rumbling to the ground I would not have placed a high up time, mission critical data center in the heart of Earth Quake country. It’s not a selling point to me when I am looking for server co-location.
Where is the perfect place to put a data center? That is of course the question that most CIOs are looking at today and no one had the “perfect” answer.
An abandoned oil rig off the cost of the UK? No I would guess not, hard to commute to work daily.
Just outside a large city? Well maybe but which large city and how far out?
If you look at the earth you have to pick a place that is close to your customers or close to large amounts of cheap bandwidth so that you can be close via a ping rather the proximity. That is not an easy bill to fill right now as most place with load of pipe are also close to major cities and no one wants to be in down town anywhere the next time something bad like 9/11 happens. You don’t want it down South near the Gulf of Mexico or Florida since there are hurricanes. You don’t want it in California, Oregon or Washington there are earthquakes. You don’t want it in the North East the salaries are to high and everything is so close together that your risk of anything happening goes way up. The south west? Nope the cooling cost are much higher and if the power goes out you need tons of on site electricity and that gets very expensive. What about the Mid-West? Tornadoes and hard to attract good technical talent. So where is the perfect place to put a data center?
Even if you did find a good place for a data center how would you build the building? I might place it underground so that it would be safer, but then you have to think about flooding in the case of heavy rain, so the list goes on and on and in the end you are stuck with a truck full of servers, switches and racks that can’t be located anywhere. Then you think maybe that is the answer, we put it all in an 18 wheeler and drive it to the safest place in the country at the time and never stop rolling…while it sounds like fun it would be a logistical nightmare.
There is no perfect data center and if there was everyone would want to be in it and no on would place on in the heart of down town San Francisco ever, not even on a bad day and think that was a good idea.