What are the most important factors to consider when choosing a colocation service provider? Here is a short list-
- Redundant power
- Reliable air conditioning to control temperature and humidity levels
- Resilient internet connectivity with automatic failover
- Advanced security systems
- Remote Hands services
- Convenient location
Location and Cost Drive Colocation Selection
Power with back-ups, multiple environmental systems, high availability internet services, security protection, and flexible support are must-have requirements for all colocation service providers. Data centers must check all these boxes to succeed in the competitive colocation business. Ultimately, the colocation facility’s location is the factor, other than cost, that dictates which data center is selected.
Which factors should be considered when choosing the location of a colocation facility? The facility should be close enough for staff visits as needed. Yet it should be far enough away to reduce the risk of the same environmental events that might impact the primary office location. The site also should be near major roads to minimize drive time. It is even better if the drive to the colocation facility is against traffic during those times when employees typically visit the data center.
It is also best if the colocation provider is powered by a different electric utility than the one that powers the primary place of work. Though the total loss of utility power is rare, the consequences of such a loss can be devastating. The probability of two separate electric utilities losing power at the same time is far less than the chance of a total outage at either one.
Finally, here in Connecticut colocation costs can vary a lot based on real-estate costs. The cost per square foot for a data center in lower Fairfield County can be 2 or 3 times higher than the cost for the same amount of space in places like Shelton where CAPS’ data center is located.
Higher Elevations Lower Risk
The data center’s elevation above sea-level is another location-based factor to consider- especially in Connecticut. Our state has many low-lying areas that are close to the shoreline, rivers and lakes. Though hurricanes and tornedos can wreak havoc here, these extreme storms are rare. Floods, whether caused by storm surges or heavy rains, are much more common. The best way to avoid floods is to locate critical IT infrastructure at higher elevations.
All things being equal, it is best to aim for higher ground when looking for a lower risk place for your critical IT infrastructure. Connecticut, unlike our neighbors to the north, is a relatively flat state. We rank 36th in terms of the states with the highest elevation. Our tallest peak is Mount Frissell in the northwest corner of the state which is 2,379 feet above sea-level.
So why not build a data center on Mount Frissell? There are data centers at very high elevations around the world like the one in Tibet at 11,995 feet above sea-level. Though the flood risk at such heights is minimized the cost to build a data center on the top of a mountain is very expensive. Also, at higher elevations air conditioning is more expensive. This is because the air is thinner at higher elevations so more air has to flow over electronic systems in order to remove heat. Finally, since Connecticut has few tall mountains we should probably leave Mount Frissell for our hikers.
The CAPS data center in Shelton is head and shoulders above most of the other colocation sites in Connecticut. High above the Upper Valley at 290 feet above sea-level you can look down upon the restaurants and hotels along Bridgeport Avenue and see the cars speeding along Route 8 from the top level of the parking garage that is adjacent to the data center.
The fact that CAPS’ clients have not experienced an unscheduled power outage in over 20 years is due, in part, to the location of our data center in a flood-free zone far above sea-level.