01-22-13 | Blog Post

The Best Place to Store Your Data: When Selecting a Data Center, Location Does Matter

Blog Posts

Whether you are building a new data center or looking to colocate with a managed data center, selecting a good location is critical.  Your decision where to build a data center or colocate, can directly impact the total cost of ownership (TCO) over the data center’s lifetime.

Geographic Benefits of Midwest Data Centers

A growing trend among organizations is looking to the Midwest when looking to build a data center. Areas such as Michigan and Indiana have a cool climate that results in low utility costs, low probability of natural disasters, and a well-educated workforce; proving they have many benefits that east or west coast locations can’t provide.

Cool Climate Lowers Utility Costs

Known as “power hungry,” data centers worldwide use about 30 billion watts of electricity estimates NY Times industry experts. The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) approximates that the energy consumed by data centers will continue to grow by 12 percent per year. Since energy costs is one of the fastest-rising expenses for data centers, it is imperative that facility and IT managers look to improve energy efficiencies.

Data center operators have been moving towards “free cooling” to cut the costs associated with keeping servers cool. “Free cooling” is using the environment rather than powered cooling to cool servers. For example, Google built a data center in Hamina, Finland, to take advantage of the cool temperatures and chilly waters of the Gulf of Finland.

Fortunately, U.S. data centers can look to cooler regions, like Michigan and Indiana, for favorable temperatures throughout most of the year.  With cool summer temperatures, our data centers do not need to rely as heavily on powered cooling as data centers in the U.S. southern or southwestern regions.  The Midwest climate not only helps lower utility costs, cool temperatures also reduce the risk of servers overheating and potential hardware failure affecting data availability.

ENERGY STAR Certification for Data Centers
ENERGY STAR Certification for Data Centers

At Online Tech, we have found that our data centers are more cost-effective to run due to the cooler climate. We are also the first Michigan data center operator to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification, which signifies that our Mid-Michigan data center performs in the top 25 percent of similar nationwide facilities for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA. As a result, our clients benefit from our energy efficiencies and cost-savings.

Low Frequency and Low Severity of Natural Disasters

Hurricane Sandy has brought the consideration of natural disaster potential to the forefront when deciding data center locations. Data center operators are looking for safer geographical regions, like the Midwest, than areas more prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and floods.

Both Michigan and Indiana are extremely low-risk locations compared to more densely-packed, disaster-prone west and east coast regions. According to research from the USGS and NOAA, Michigan has one of the lowest possibilities of natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

The NOAA’s research data has found that hurricane or tropical storm remnants make their way into the Great Lakes region, on average, twice a decade. And in the majority of instances, the storms have diminished to rain storms with squally winds by the time they reach the region. In the case of earthquakes, the USGS predicts that Michigan has less than 1 percent chance of having an earthquake in the next 50 years; a much lower percentage than west coast regions.

Michigan data center operators can also have the peace of mind knowing that the severity of any natural disasters is minimal. Michigan has declared fewer than 20 FEMA disasters compared to Texas with 332 disasters and California with 211. A FEMA disaster is classified when a natural disasters requires the federal government to step in with assistance.

With the lowest frequency and severity of natural disaster in the nation makes Michigan the perfect location for a disaster recovery site.  Read more about Michigan Data Centers.

Well-Educated Workforce

The final consideration when selecting a data center location is looking at the region’s workforce talent.  Whether you are looking to hire employees, spin up a cloud environment or use managed services, a highly talented technical staff is extremely important.

The availability of a highly skilled workforce is often a driving force for technology companies to locate in a particular state. Michigan boasts the fourth largest high-tech workforce in the U.S. The state’s access to major universities, such as the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, provides a strong network for innovation and talent.

With an ideal climate, low probability of natural disasters, and a talented workforce, Michigan is quickly becoming a popular destination for data centers and cloud hosting.

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