Data centers migrate to cold climates for improved cooling
Tuesday, Dec 3rd 2013

In the effort to improve data room cooling and its often high operating expenditures, data center designers and operators have been increasingly choosing cold climates for their facility locations.

Within a data storage facility, top priorities for employees include maintaining proper server room temperature and preventing equipment relied upon for important information storage from overheating. Such an episode would be a catastrophe for a data center, not to mention potentially spell disaster for the organization that suffers extensive damage or destruction to equipment. 

However, in order to keep servers and other heat-producing IT equipment at the proper data center temperature and maintain server uptime, cooling systems require a significant amount of electricity to power chilled air arrangements. Many experts agree that cooling technology is one of the top power-consuming structures within a data center. Therefore, those in the industry seek alternative methods to cut cooling costs while keeping within the recommended data center temperature range.

Andrew Donohoe, 451 Research senior analyst, stated that traditional cooling technologies are difficult and expensive to maintain, as well as inefficient, according to Network Computing.

"The challenge of cooling modern data centers has been likened to using a room full of air conditioners to cool a room full of fan heaters," Donohoe said. "Data centers that use outside air or other emerging cooling technologies promise to be cheaper, more efficient and more sustainable than traditional, mechanically cooled facilities."

To combat this problem,  data center designers and operators leverage natural cooling techniques that utilize the environment's chilled air to eliminate excess heat and maintain the proper server room temperature.

Technology giants build cool climate data centers
It's no secret that frosty climates can provide savings when it comes to cooling expenses, and well-known organizations including Microsoft and Google have been increasingly migrating their data facilities to regions with such weather.

According to Reuters, Google recently announced it will invest more than $250 million to construct a new facility in Finland, an area known for its frigid temperatures. The data center will pump cool, outdoor air into its cooling system as a means of eliminating the need for multiple air conditioners and chillers.

Google, along with a number of other organizations including Amazon and Microsoft, has also built facilities in Dublin, according to Data Center Knowledge. While many companies seek out locations for their connectivity capabilities, data center operators have flocked to Ireland for its cool climate, further expanding the industry footprint in the region.

Additionally, Vertatique stated that Iceland also has a growing data center community, attracting designers and operators with its cold, stable climate. Verne Global was one of the first American organizations to construct a facility in the area, dubbing the benefits of the frigid environment the "Icelandic Advantage" and stating that the climate lends itself to "free cooling."

"The mean annual temperature in Iceland is [30 degrees Fahrenheit] in January and [55 degrees Fahrenheit] in July," Verne Global representatives stated. "As a result, we can handle power densities of up to 10 to 20 kilowatts per rack using cooling from Iceland's ambient temperature alone."