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How Tech Giants Navigate Data Center Site Selection


Data Center Operations Managers and Real Estate and Facilities Leaders are pivotal in the tech giants' journey of data center site selection. This process is not just about meeting operational needs; it's a complex blend of technology, environment, and strategy. These elements combine to ensure efficiency, risk management, and long-term success.

Keys to the Data Center: Must Haves and Real Examples

Balancing Proximity and Efficiency

Tech giant or not, all companies face the challenge of minimizing latency while optimizing cooling solutions. Google's selection of Hamina, Finland, showcases this balance. They chose it for its cool climate and closeness to European markets. This case illustrates the tech industry's focus on locations that offer both user accessibility and a climate that supports cost-effective operations.




Navigating Power and Connectivity

Power stability is non-negotiable. You recall the 2016 incident where an Amazon data center in Sydney faced downtime due to a power outage. To avoid such scenarios, you prioritize locations with a reliable power grid and the potential for renewable energy sources. Similarly, robust connectivity is a must. You aim for a site like Microsoft's in Boydton, Virginia, which thrives due to its proximity to major internet backbones.




Insights for a Real Estate and Facilities Leader

Assessing Long-Term Viability

As a business leader in Real Estate and Facilities, you need to think generations into the future. That's how tech giants play it. You're not just choosing a site; you're investing in the future. When Facebook selected Altoona, Iowa, for its data center, they considered factors beyond immediate needs, like scalability and the potential for future expansion. Your role involves assessing whether the site can accommodate growth over the next decade or more.


Environmental and Regulatory Compliance

You’re also tasked with ensuring environmental compliance. The site must align with local regulations and environmental standards. This was a key factor for Apple when they established their data center in Waukee, Iowa, tapping into the state's extensive wind power resources to meet their renewable energy commitments.


Security: A Non-Negotiable Priority

Tech giants prioritize both physical and cyber security. You should too. Both physical and cyber security measures must be top-notch. Google's selection of Clarksville, Tennessee, showcases how you can leverage the advantages of a secure area and a community rich in technological talent

Conclusion: A Collaborative Approach

As a Data Center Operations Manager or a Real Estate and Facilities Leader you play a critical role in the data center site selection process. Your decisions, influenced by operational needs and strategic foresight, shape the future of your organization's data handling capabilities. The right site selection is a big step in crafting a data center that not only meets current demands but is prepared for future challenges and opportunities.

Table: Key Considerations for Data Center Site Selection

Factor Description Examples
Geographic Location Proximity to users and strategic position for connectivity. Microsoft in Boydton, Virginia - Proximity to fiber optic routes. Facebook in Luleå, Sweden - Near the Arctic Circle for natural cooling.
Power Supply Stability and reliability of power sources with backup options. Apple in Waukee, Iowa - Access to wind and solar power sources.
Connectivity Access to multiple ISPs and high-speed networks. Amazon in Northern Virginia - Close to internet exchange points.
Environmental Impact Climate, cooling requirements, and renewable energy sources. Google in Hamina, Finland - Utilizes sea water for cooling.
Security Robust security measures for data protection. Switch in Las Vegas, Nevada - Known for advanced security protocols and infrastructure.
Political and Economic Stability Location in a region with stable governance and economic environment. IBM in Toronto, Canada - Chosen for its political and economic stability.
Access to Skilled Workforce Proximity to a labor pool with the necessary technical skills. Apple in Austin, Texas - Benefits from a skilled and growing tech workforce.
Regulatory Compliance Adherence to local and international data laws and regulations. Microsoft in Dublin, Ireland - Compliance with European Union data protection laws.
Scalability and Expansion Potential Availability of space and infrastructure for future growth. Google in Clarksville, Tennessee - Large land area for potential expansion.
Disaster Risk Mitigation Low risk of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes. Facebook in Altoona, Iowa - Chosen for its low disaster risk profile.