Data Center Site Selection and Kickin' Dirt

Mapping technologies that bring together multiple layers of data have led to the development of sophisticated “heat maps” for use in data center site selection. These applications combine data about power pricing, natural disasters, connectivity, water supply and dozens of other factors to identify the best areas to operate a data center.      

Microsoft has often discussed the importance of heat maps in scouting locations as it worked with Jones Lang LaSalle on identifying sites for its data center projects. But software can only go so far, as Michael Manos notes today in a post at Loose Bolts, in which he discusses the process of making decisions on data center site location.  

“Even with some of the brightest minds, and substantial research being done, its interesting to me that ultimately the process breaks down into something I call ‘Kickin Dirt’,” writes Manos. “Those ivory tower exercises ultimately help you narrow down your decisions to a few locations, but the true value of the process is when you get out to the location itself and ‘kick the dirt around.’ You get a feel for the infrastructure, local culture, and those hard to quantify factors that no modeling software can tell you.”

This part of the process is particularly important when a site search has narrowed the focus to a town or county with multiple sites available. The heat map can narrow the seach and sharpen your focus, helping understand geographic strengths and weaknesses. But the site visit remains a key component of the process.

So here’s a question for our readers: What are the critical points to consider during a site visit in weighing a property’s merit as a data center site? What are the “tie-breakers” between competing sites?

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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