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Why is location important for Data Centres?

Charlotte Clarke our consultant managing the role
Published on 28 September 2022

Demand for data centre capacity has never been so great. New build projects are unfolding at unprecedented rates and the global data centre construction market is predicting to grow almost 6% from 2022 - 2027. But what do operators look for when planning new data centre construction projects, and particularly – where?

Data centres can be built anywhere with power and connectivity, but location has a significant impact in the quality of service it provides. Here we look into why location is important for data centres, and some key countries around the world where the data centre industry is thriving.

Climate concerns

Climate change is forcing data centre operators to rethink where they are planning new facility builds – and how to power them. 1 in 10 data centre operators have reported a dramatic increase of risk to their facilities from climate disasters at the hands of global warming. They are also being pointed to as one of the very reasons they find themselves suffering the effects of climate catastrophe; data centres are estimated to use over 1% of the worlds electricity and generate the same volume of carbon as the global airline industry.

Sustainability is a key focus for the data centre market, and it is clear that location needs to be carefully considered. Not only is it important to pinpoint an area with minimal risk of natural disaster, but also somewhere that has accessible and affordable renewable energy solutions to power operations.

Data centres in Sweden

Whilst the data centre market in Sweden is relatively small, it is fast becoming the most energy efficient data centre hub in the world. Most of Stockholm’s energy comes from renewable resources, and through the Stockholm Data Park initiative, operators in the city are redistributing waste heat to warm local homes.

Proximity to business

The physical location of data centres to its customers will have a direct impact on website speeds and latency. Essentially, the closer the data centre is to the business districts they serve, the less distance data needs to travel. This will mean faster web loading and downloading speeds, and greater consumer satisfaction. As such, data centre facilities tend to be located in more urban areas with larger populations of people accessing the web. Demand for facilities in metropolitan areas continue to grow quickly – particularly as more reliance is being placed on cloud and tech solutions for business operations.

Data centres in the US

The US is home to the world’s leading data centre market – and North Virginia is at its epicentre, housing 20% of the country’s data centres alone. Because it sits roughly in the centre of the eastern seaboard, it is the optimal location to build data centres that will serve the major cities up and down the US east coast. Proximity to these metropolitan hubs also means the industry has access to highly skilled workforces and it is a thriving area for data centre job opportunities.

Temperature control

Data centres need to operate in cool conditions. The IT networks and technical infrastructure in data centres work incredibly hard, consuming vast amounts of power and emitting huge levels of waste heat, which ultimately put hardware in jeopardy. In order to protect the safety of machines, the data centre environment must be kept within 18 – 27 degrees, which is considerably more difficult – and expensive – to regulate in hotter climates. Naturally cooler locations, therefore, provide the ideal environment for data centres to operate with the outside air naturally cooling facilities rather than energy intensive cooling systems. Most populated regions in the northern hemisphere allow for free cooling for at least part of the year and it is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to remove excess heat.

Data centres in Finland

The northerly location of Scandinavian countries mean that winters are cold and long, and data centres in the area can take advantage of free cooling the whole year round. In 2011, Google innovated this free cooling concept further by using sea water from the bay of Finland to chill servers in its Hamina data centre. Since them, Finland’s data centre market has been steadily growing, making the Nordics a location to watch for new data construction projects.

Where can a data centre job take you?

It is clear that location plays a crucial part to play when it comes to building and operating data centres, but there is no one perfect spot and many factors need to be taken into consideration. That said, the global market is booming, and a data centre job can take you to many stunning locations around the world. Our dedicated data centre recruitment team are at hand to help get you there. Get in touch with us today or take a look at our latest data centre jobs. If you're thinking of changing your current career, check out our article on changing careers to data centre roles. Also, check out our guide on how to write a CV for a data centre engineer job.