Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, December 3, 2022

Location, Location, Location: It Applies to Green Datacenters, Too 

<p>Google does it. Facebook does it. Even educated eBay does it. Choosing the right location can be a great way to build a greener data center.</p>

Before deciding where to put that next data center, it might be a good idea to get some advice from others. Consider tax incentives, climate, green energy sources and energy rates.

At CIO.com, Vangie Beal talked to several people in the data center business for advice on choosing a good location. Most are vendors, and Beal relies heavily on Lee Technologies. But the article comes up with several factors to consider before making your decision.

The article points out that TCO is important, of course, and to that end, start by looking at as many cost centers as possible: capital expenses, operations expenses, maintenance costs and the price of energy. Look into other utility costs as well. How much is a gallon of water and sewer discharge? Do some research and compare the price of real estate, the available infrastructure and materials and labor costs for building a new facility.

Many regions looking for new industries to replace old manufacturing businesses offer incentives to located in their region. Shop around for some incentives.

Also consider whether the right resources are available. How good is the network connectivity? How far will you have to go to connect to high bandwidth networks? And just in case you need it, are there multiple power sources? Hydroelectric power is a popular green source because it's relatively inexpensive, reliable and clean (although it does change the ecology of rivers.)

Free cooling systems are a big plus. There is increasing evidence that passive cooling works in warm climates, but cool climates can be a big plus. 

Many companies also guard against possible failures by building two plants rather than one. But if the area might be prone to disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes, you might want to keep the two centers far enough apart that both will not be struck by the same disaster. If they're too far apart, on the other hand, then switching workloads to the second data center can take longer.

Also think about the disadvantages of locating in a state where you don't have other facilities. Cost and complexity become factors.

In the end, narrow down the number of sites to just a few, then compare all their advantages and disadvantages in detail.

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