Data Center Locations are Hot, Hot, Hot
By Tony Kontzer Has there ever been a time in history when data centers have generated so much excitement? With the explosion of cloud computing and mobile applications, these formerly unappreciated IT nerve centers are moving into the spotlight in all sorts of settings, and they're being counted on to provide much-needed economic boosts wherever they go.
Take the recent reports of giddiness in the city of St. Louis, Mo.. Unisys chose St. Louis -- above Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., and Salt Like City, Utah -- to locate its 10,000-square-foot data center in a revered, early 20th century building that had been vacant. Unisys' decision seems to have been based on three factors:
- low cost of real estate
- proximity to the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development agency (expected to be one of the center's customers)
- a "coolness" factor that will make the city a place that attracts young local data center talent
Even a $4 billion facility looks like small potatoes next to what Chinese authorities are cooking up with IBM. In a partnership that first was revealed last month, IBM will help China-based Range Technology Development Co. Ltd. and officials of China's Hebei province build what could end up being the largest data center in the world once it's completed in 2016.
The overall facility is expected to be 6.2 million square feet, but there are conflicting reports as to how much of that will be data center space, and how much will be offices. It appears the center will serve as a cloud-computing hub for a number of local government services -- from transportation and e-government to food and drug safety -- as well as for clients obtaining cloud-based hosting and services from Chinese Range and IBM.
The list of hugely hyped data center projects doesn't end there. The Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State all are in various stages of aggressive data center consolidation and modernization. In Montana, state officials are wrapping up a data center modernization effort that features the first-ever U.S. deployment of super-efficient so-called "heat wheels," making it one of the most-watched data center projects in the country. And IBM also recently announced that it would be helping New York City with the first stages of a data center that's intended to one day provide a centralized cloud computer infrastructure for all of the city's departments and services.
All of these facilities are being looked upon to provide varying degrees of economic stimulus -- either through job creation, providing a commercial real-estate jolt, or delivering economies of scale to address increasingly large-scale computing needs. We're talking wide-ranging impact on the localities where they're being established.
The significance of these many data center projects reaches far beyond their local impact. The confluence of cloud computing and mobility, along with the persistent call for more efficient use of cooling and power resources, are putting high-profile data center projects in the spotlight. It's critical that companies get this next generation of data centers right, as they'll provide not only a critical infrastructure that will be increasingly depended upon, but also a blueprint for how to most effectively meet humanity's fast growing computing needs.
Please use the comments section below to let us know how you feel about the ever-growing role of the modern data center, and what you expect to need from the data center in the coming years.