The Cold Data-Center Movement

Modern high-scale data-centers are just work of art. The open-compute project started by Facebook and others, provides some insights on how much innovation is needed to support the data-centers behind our social web connected life. As a technologist this is just pure enjoyment to read and learn about it…

One of the top cost line items for operating a data-center are the costs associated with cooling the severs and the costs of providing power for the operation (which also to some degree is mapped back to cooling). In recent years, many innovation items have been implemented in these area, driving a measurement called Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) down dramatically. Google, Facebook and Salesforce have been publicly sharing information on their approach to reduce the PUE and the total carbon footprint per transaction and the results seems impressive. This is one of these great places where it is economically efficient to be ecologically smart.

The ideal cold data center
The ideal cold data center

Multiple discussions have reviewed the importance of selecting the right physical location of the data-center to be able to improve the on-going operation of a site.

In summary, the ideal location should have the “magic three” elements:

  1. Located in a very cold place, ideally most of the year sub freezing temperatures
  2. Location that has cheap electricity, like near major revers and hydroelectricity sources
  3. Location that is relatively “network-close” to the customer base

When considering the European market, this is great news for the Scandinavian countries. They are in one of the best locations to get all these three elements right. And for service providers that want to address the European lucrative market this should be the default choice. And indeed few months ago, Google announced that they are building a new innovative data center in Hamina, Finland (Read my previous post on this subject It’s cool to cool a data-center). This data center is in a cold area and also leverages the all-year-cold Baltic sea waters for hydro based cooling system.

Now, Facebook is following a similar approach. In a press release from yesterday titled Arctic chill brings Facebook data center to Sweden, Facebook outlines their plan to build a massive new data center (their first outside US) in Sweden, just on the “edge of the Arctic Circle” with a goal to better address the massive amount of their European users. The data-center will be located in Lulea, Sweden that looks like a beautiful yet very cold place, just on the shores of the Baltic sea again. See location in the map below:

Lulea, Sweden
Lulea, Sweden

Data centers in the Scandinavian countries make a tremendous sense for the European market. But what about the rest of the world? A similar choice will make sense in North America where North East and North West of the US and Canada are perfect locations for efficient data centers that can serve all of the North and Central America. And North East Asia has similar potential (even though new network infrastructure will be needed).


Author: dave

Consider myself kid in soul and naive by choice. I am interested in people, technology and business and thrive when they all work together. My favorite quote and motto is that “You can fool some people some times but you cant fool all the people all the time” ― Bob Marley

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