Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}}The commercialization of technology for mainstream use has created a need for data centers to be larger and have higher densities. The site selection of a data center facility is being redefined as needs change due to various external factors such as higher power density, super storms, physical and cyber security, and redefined resiliency. As a result, there are four main parameters that should be considered in the data center location decision: power, connectivity, cooling systems, and natural hazards.

Data centers utilize power to process compute, and they consume tremendous amounts of energy. The need for reliable, low-cost, and sufficient electrical power capacity starts the process for site selection. Early on, discussions need to happen to ensure that local utility companies can easily supply enough power for the project needs. This means that available distribution or transmission circuits are accessible, and operating voltages needed for the data center are available.
The need to evaluate natural hazards should also be considered. With the recent changes in FEMA flood zones due to Super Storm Sandy, an evaluation of the flood zone and drought conditions should be considered that looks back 25 to 100 years.
If the site requires an extension of high-tension power lines or requires construction of substations for distribution voltage, this can have a significant impact on initial cost and schedule. Initial meetings with the local utility company should address the availability of needed power quality and scalability of power available. Utility rate structure and incentives should also be discussed during the initial meetings with the local utility companies. Additionally, alternate power sources such as distribution generation and renewable energy need to be evaluated in the site selection process as well for corporate responsibility and incentives.

The availability of telecom service providers for connectivity is another critical component of the location decision. The number of available service providers and bandwidth capacity allows for a competitive environment and reduced rates. Many data center users also have IT redundancy requirements; this means that they typically have a primary and an alternate site(s). The connectivity between sites is important for application transfer and/or backup of data. The time connectivity speed (latency) between sites is another important factor that affects the site selection process. The primary and alternate site(s) should be far enough apart so as to not be impacted by local and regional events, but also have low latency to accommodate fail over between sites.

Cooling Systems
The selection of a location that is conducive to an efficient cooling system is a factor that could sway the decision between sites. The cooling requirements are constant regardless of the season and have a significant cost impact over the life of the facility. A site that has a temperate, nonvariable environment will require less mechanical cooling in lieu of economizers. Mechanical cooling requires energy to operate and impacts the overall efficiency (power utilization effectiveness) of the data center.

Other site utilities should be considered as well. Availability of water for the data center and sources of water are essential. Important factors to consider: Does the site require connection charges from the local utility? What is the cost per gallon for water and sewer? And is there an alternate source (such as secondary water line or a well)?

Other Factors/Natural Hazards
The need to evaluate natural hazards should also be considered. With the recent changes in FEMA flood zones due to Super Storm Sandy, an evaluation of the flood zone and drought conditions should be considered that looks back 25 to 100 years. The flood zone and drought conditions evaluation should be performed as it may impact the engineering design solutions from HVAC and electrical distribution.

Other factors including environmental conditions that should be considered are indicated below: In Sum
There is no site that is perfect; therefore the above parameters should be evaluated holistically. The evaluation of each parameter should be benchmarked with a business case for each site and optimal solution.

In evaluating a site for the future data center, a comprehensive Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis should be developed to determine the optimal site for the project. The site selection touches all aspects of the data center project. The site selected will have a fundamental impact on capital and operational expenditures over the life of the facility. The risk associated with a site selected without thorough due diligence can be great. The proper site selection can have a long-term positive or negative impact on the project. Therefore, it is essential that the site is scalable and incorporates the agility needed for the next-generation data center.