Location, Location, Data Center Location

January 4, 2012 - 11 Comments

I spent a recent weekend helping a friend load his belongings into a moving van, in preparation for relocating his family from California to Texas.  Sometime between lifting my end of a sofa and carrying boxes that apparently contained his collection of concrete blocks, we talked about his search for a new home.

Although there are certain amenities he would like his new house to have, the biggest influence on his choice of residence is the old real estate axiom location, location, location.  He has a child in preschool and a good job, so you can guess his priorities:  something near a highly rated school, not too far from work and where property values are apt to rise over time.

Location is a critical consideration for Data Centers, too, although for different reasons.  A server environment’s location influences everything from physical security to availability to how much it costs to run, potentially raising or lowering operating expenses by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Here’s a look at some of the major factors that Cisco considers when selecting a Data Center site.

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. Good video. Seems Iceland ticks all the right boxes. There’s a perceived risk of natural disasters but take a closer look and you’ll see that’s only a perception. Natural free cooling all year round, low cost renewable energy, favorable tax and legal framework, educated work force, good connectivity, and a strategic location mid-way between the US and Europe. Take a look at the guys already running DCs there: http://www.verneglobal.com and http://www.thordc.com.

  2. @Paul… Great comment about modularity. I have long been a fan of deploying Data Center infrastructure in consistent, repeatable increments and containerized Data Centers are an excellent option for doing so.

  3. love the concrete block comments!

  4. Fully agree with Paul Jethin. I think the future belongs to Modular Data Centers. And generally speaking, the less something is attached to any geographical location, the better.

  5. I am laughing ony because of the concrete block comments. Hubby and I are in process of packing and because of this mere fact have decided our next endeavor is going Minimalist. Cicso is strategically placed it appears.

  6. @Paul: Couldn’t agree more.

  7. Deep water cooling. The city of Toronto has had great success with it. Naturally, clients are interested in spending money on their own DC, not a large scale infrastructure for a city. It can be done for facilities smaller than a city; Cornell University for example uses deep water cooling. (I mention them as they have info online albeit they are bigger than one DC.) Also, here in NYC World Trade was designed to use the Hudson River as a back up but used it all the time as it was so much cheaper. Rochester NY and the shoreline between Chicago and Milwaukee (especially closer to Milwaukee) are excellent locations, plus the Finger Lakes in upstate NY. While NY power rates are high, my quick search suggests NYC skews the average; more research can be done when you hire me.

  8. Great article, Doug – I used to be able to joke that Cisco only put data centers along major geological faults or in the path of hurricanes 🙂 Congrats to the whole team on successfully making such a major transformation.

  9. @Paul Jethin be sure to check out “Would You, Could You, In a Box?” by Douglas Alger. It has some great information about containerized (modular) data center). http://blogs.cisco.com/ciscoit/would-you-could-you-in-a-box/

  10. The new innovative approach is to have Modular Data Centers. This radical new approach that reduces the cost of the data center build-out, saves on total running costs plus its pretty easy to dismantle it and reassemble it elsewhere.

    Perfectly scalable and could also double-stack the data centre modules to make the most of the ground space.

  11. Forward thinking: Alaska, Maine, Montana, North Dakota & Minnesota. A data center should be packed in snow as much as possible all year long. Anything else will simply be wasting resources that could be better spent serving the customer base.