Guest Blogger: This post was written by Fitzalan Gorman-Crowe, Staff Writer at GeoTel Communications.
As the world becomes more and more reliant on the digital universe, the need for data centers continues to grow. Powering these massive data centers is expensive; they must always remain on and their power drain can have a major impact on the environment.
Additionally, it can be difficult to bring in extra power to big cities, such as Manhattan or San Francisco, so it is key to build new data centers in more remote locations.
The growing demand for more efficient data centers has caused them to pop up in essentially the middle of nowhere: the dry, high desert climate of Oregon. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all have built facilities in the state.
Relatively Disaster Free
These facilities must be built to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at them — tornados, mudslides, fires, earthquakes, flooding and hurricanes. In the U.S., there is a little bit of everything. For example, the Miami data center, NAP of the Americas, features a 7-inch thick steel-reinforced concrete panel built to withstand a level 5 hurricane along with a lightning prevention system. Moving to the deserts decreases the risk of natural disasters plus adds two vital elements: dry air and cheaper electricity. These two conditions help data centers save power, money and the environment.
Dry Heat is Good Heat
In Oregon, the desert air is fairly mild year-round. Servers generate an enormous amount of heat, so the internal temperature is actually greater than it is outside. Data centers are designed to pump in outside air to prevent overheating and thanks to the surrounding dry air, it is easier to pump it back out. Additional cooling systems are only needed during the hottest times of the day. This greatly reduces the reliance on expensive air-conditioner coolers.
Oregon offers big businesses like Google and Amazon something that other states don’t: large tax breaks. In Oregon, a lack of sales tax and broad property tax exemptions are offered to companies that build in enterprise zones. Additionally, other states charge data centers sales tax on their computers.
According to Oregon Live, Google’s data center energy capacity is 37 megawatts, equal to 27,400 homes, and Facebook’s full site energy capacity is 120 megawatts. Google’s data center campus is located in The Dalles, a city with a population of just over 13,600 people. The Dalles offers relatively inexpensive yet dependable electricity; much of it fed by local mighty rivers that generate cheap hydropower. Google pays about 4 cents per kilowatt hour. If they were located just 100 miles east in Portland, they would pay 40 percent higher energy charges.
We continue to see large Data Centers (hosting big data) being built in states like Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. This trend will for some time. GeoTel Communications, LLC a research and GIS mapping company that sells telecom infrastructure data, noticed this trend a few years ago. The State of Oregon which is a client of GeoTel’s, has a very attractive tax policy and is tech friendly. For a few more facts and a closer look at some of the larger Data Centers in the State of Oregon, email Fitzalan Gorman-Crowe at FitzalanCrowe@geo-tel.