Data centers don’t exist in a vacuum. Businesses that invest in the best technology, the most robust links to major networks, and the best physical and network security systems can still find themselves in a situation where they face regular and protracted down times. Geographic factors expose data centers to environmental risks that can’t be completely mitigated, while the surrounding infrastructure has a major impact on the data center’s uptime as well.
Here are five key questions that companies can ask before choosing a data center location:
- How mature is the power grid? On one hand, a grid with a long history of stability is a positive indicator, but a power infrastructure that has aged and started to deteriorate could also point to future issues.
- What is the local power capacity? While the overall power grid is important, the robustness of the proposed data center’s connection to it is equally important.
- How many grids are available? A data center that can connect to multiple power systems is more likely to stay up, no matter what.
- What data carriers are available? The more redundant choices that a data center has, the more reliable, speedy and responsive it will be.
- What fiber is available? Proximity to a fiber backbone will also improve network performance.
While having robust infrastructure is key, natural disasters can trump even the most robust systems. Here are some common ones to study:
- Hurricanes. While hurricanes are prevalent in the Gulf and on the southern portion of the Eastern Seaboard, Nor’easter storms can also be extremely damaging.
- Flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides flood maps that indicate an area’s risk of experiencing flooding over a 100 year period.
- Tornadoes. As with floods and hurricanes, maps are available that indicate where tornado risks are particularly high.
- Earthquakes. Seismic activity isn’t just confined to the Pacific Rim. The country is actually riddled with fault lines that could become active at any time. For example, 125th Street in Manhattan is a fault line.
- Wildfire and Snow Activity. While seasonal wildfires and snow accumulation do not necessarily pose a risk to a well-constructed data center, they can cut the facility off from necessary utilities or support staff.