Some things to consider when launching a data center (Part 2)
Friday, Mar 14th 2014

In a previous post we discussed temperature monitoring and renewable energy as two important factors in constructing a data center. But just as important as what goes on inside a center is the environment around it. That is because data centers are invariably affected by the physical location in which they are located. With that in mind, here are some more things to look into in order to maximize your data center potential.

Choose the location wisely
Considering that data centers are necessarily connected to the physical environment they inhabit, it is important to pinpoint the best location possible. Data centers are always going to require top-notch capabilities to maintain a good server room temperature, but the ease with which that happens can depend on the location of the center. As always, Google is at the top of the game with regard to location selection. Its Hamina, Finland center is strategically placed near the Gulf of Finland, enabling an easy and natural data room cooling solution. 

But Google is not the only company maximizing natural environments for data center growth. Iron Mountain specializes in underground data center solutions, according to Data Center Knowledge. Formerly a storage company for physical records, Iron Mountain already had a 145-acre underground storage facility in a former limestone mine before it got into the data center business. This location turned out to be perfect for data center needs. Blocked from the sunlight and other external heat sources, the underground facility stays at about 52 degrees without any kind of additional cooling function. An underground lake provides further protection against ever needing to bring in a machine cooling system. The company's so-called "data bunker" gained so much popularity that Iron Mountain decided to expand its sphere of operations.

Give back to the community the center is in
Data centers often require a big fleet of staff to operate. Fortunately, they're usually built near communities from which workers can be hired. But as much as data centers plan to benefit from the community they inhabit, it is just as important to look for ways to give back. This kind of behavior encourages connectedness with the community and improves the reputation of the center - and therefore the company - in the public eye.

Google paid special attention to the local community as it developed its Hamina center. When they began mapping out the concept for the center, Google realized that construction would take about 18 months. And so they turned to the locals for help. In the process, they provided steady employment for 800 workers in the engineering and construction sectors, according to Data Center Knowledge. Google's willingness to involve locals in the construction process helped forge a lasting bond between the tech giant and the city.

This bond did not go unnoticed.

"Google's investment decision is important for us and we welcome it warmly," Finnish president Jyrki Katainen said.

And for those who work at the center, life is good.

"No two days are the same as we change our roles around frequently to keep things fresh and new," said Julian Cooper, a hardware operations worker at the facility.

Be prepared to surmount environmental obstacles
In the event of a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake, it is vitally important for all enterprises - especially data centers - to make sure their stock is safe. Iron Mountain understands the principle of environmental preparadness quite well, which is why they offer underground data storage solutions. By storing data underground, Iron Mountain protects it against any conceivable natural disaster. This nature-prove construction is especially important for companies like Marriott, which chose to house data at the Iron Mountain bunker because of the sense of complete security it afforded.

"We have always had a rigorous and constant focus on having disaster preparedness in place," said Marriott operational vice president Dan Blanchard. "Today we have a data center that provides Marriott with a tremendous capability for disaster recovery, and we have a great partner in Iron Mountain."

According to tech journalist David Geer, earthquakes pose a huge threat to data centers in many areas around the world, since they can be difficult to predict and potentially cause large-scale damage. If a company intends to build its facility in an area susceptible to earthquakes, it should apply the most stringent safeguards, including building a center that is capable of withstanding a quake one degree higher than the requirement for the zone it occupies.