What Is a Data Center Site Negotiator, and Do You Need One?

Data center site negotiators can be the key to securing your ideal physical location – from small setups to the largest hyperscale facilities.

Christopher Tozzi, Technology Analyst

May 21, 2024

3 Min Read
Data center site negotiators at a data center facility

They say that location is everything, and data centers are no exception. Choosing the right data center site is incredibly important for meeting goals in areas like clean energy sourcing, physical security, workload performance, and more.

That’s why some companies hire data center site negotiators, who specialize in selecting the ideal site and then help develop it.

Here’s a look at what this unique role entails, and when it makes sense to add a data center site negotiator position to your business.

What Is a Data Center Site Negotiator?

A data center site negotiator is a professional whose job is to identify and help develop the physical locations for new data centers.

To date, this job title has been used most widely by Google, which often has several job openings for the role. But if the past is any indication, other businesses are likely to follow suit. Google also birthed the concept of Site Reliability Engineering roles, which have now become widespread across companies of all types.

What Do Data Center Site Negotiators Do?

Data center site negotiators are responsible for two key tasks: site evaluation and site negotiation.

Site evaluation

The first responsibility data center site negotiators are tasked with is evaluating potential locations for building data centers. This process requires weighing a variety of considerations, including:

  • The cost of land.

  • How large of a facility can be built at the site

  • How physically proximate the site is to other data centers and/or end-users, and how that may impact network latency.

  • The availability of physical infrastructure, such as roads, at the site.

  • Which energy options are available at the location.

  • How feasible the location is to protect against physical security threats.

  • How natural disasters may impact the site.

Since almost no data center location is ideal in each of these respects, data center site negotiators must weigh the pros and cons of each potential site, and then decide which site is the best overall fit for a new data center.

Site negotiation

After settling on a location, data center site negotiators also play an important role in helping to develop a new data center at the site. This involves negotiating with stakeholders like the following:

  • Utility providers, whom the business needs to engage to obtain the types of energy it’s seeking in the most cost-effective way.

  • Local and regional government agencies, who may offer tax incentives to build a data center at the site.

  • Executives, data center technicians, and other stakeholders within the business, whose priorities must be represented throughout the site negotiation process.

By engaging with all these groups, data center site negotiators help ensure that an organization can obtain the best possible conditions as it moves forward with developing a data center at a new location.

Why Are Data Center Site Negotiators Important?

Creating dedicated roles for data center site negotiation is important because choosing the right site requires a complex mix of skills. This includes a technical understanding of how data centers work, knowledge of real estate acquisition and development processes, and familiarity with industrial-grade energy sourcing.

Although most large enterprises have employees in other roles who can handle each of these tasks separately, few possess the unique blend of skills necessary to do all of them.

Data center site negotiators fill this gap by specializing in site selection and development – which, again, is critical, given how much is at stake when choosing where and how to build a new data center.

Who Needs a Data Center Site Negotiator?

The role of data center site negotiator is a highly specialized position that most businesses don’t require. Unless your company is rapidly expanding its data center capacity, you probably don’t need employees who can oversee this specific work.

But if you do plan to build a new data center or two – even if you’re not operating at the scale of a company like Google – adding a role to manage the intricacies of site selection may be a wise move.

Finding candidates with the right skills to serve as data center site negotiators is not easy, but it’s well worth it if it helps you choose the ideal site – a decision that could potentially be worth many millions of dollars.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Technology Analyst, Fixate.IO

Christopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.

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