Last Thursday, I attended the Northern California Data Center Summit in Santa Clara, the hub of data center development for California.
This is an industry that appeared a year ago to be reaching saturation point. Then along came the cloud to open up a whole new market in Cloud Data Storage. The digitization of life is putting pressure on the internet which leads to storage demand.
Data center points to ponder:
1. Currently there are three billion photos per month being loaded on the web for storage.
2. There are 500 million additional smart phones going into circulation every year.
3. There are now 2.3 trillion people using the internet.
4. Netflix is adding up to 1000 servers per day.
5. Amazon added 10,000 in December.
6. 50 million users log onto Twitter each day.
San Francisco and Silicon Valley are the top Data Center markets in the US, followed by New York and New Jersey. The primary reason for this has been market proximity and access to affordable electricity (Silicon Valley Power .10c/ KW)
However increased latency (speed) and operating efficiencies (servers were at 30% efficiency, now up to 80% efficiency) are causing data centers to consider new locations.
Some primary considerations in citing a data center:
1. Electricity rates. These facilities use a great deal of electricity for operating and cooling.
2. Air temperature. These facilities generate a great deal of heat, which needs to be off set with climatic effect (this industry measures this as hours of free cooling).
3. H2O availability. To maintain consistent temperature controls a water cooling system is installed demanding a strong water supply.
4. Fiber Optic. Not all fiber optic is the same in terms of speed and access. In an industry that measures the amount of information it can transfer in milliseconds this can be worth millions of dollars in operation. As stated there are points at which fiber optic can be accessed and are not always available.
5. Redundancy. Due to the nature of much or the information being stored, 24/7 availability is priority one. Generally a data center will require backup systems on all of the above operations.
How does Shasta County stack up for Data Center Placement?
In general, Shasta County stacks up very well for Data Center Placement! We have some of the most competitive electrical rates in the state and fairly competitive with our neighboring states. A good availability of H2O, knowing that during periods of the year our air temperature will need to be offset with additional cooling systems. Our fiber in general is good and our proximity to the Bay area allows for good latency. In addition we have good infrastructure to provide adequate redundancy.
Our only real weakness is the State of California tax system creating a higher operating cost then our neighbors to the North and East.
So yes, Data Centers can be competitively placed in Shasta County.
Data Centers in Shasta County should be pursued. At the same time, we must realize that data centers are not large job creators. Once construction is complete, a small staff of technicians and security are all the centers require to operate, generally 15 to 25 people, depending on the size of the operation.