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Google Networking IT

For Data Centers, Google Likes the Southeast (datacenterfrontier.com) 63

1sockchuck writes: With new construction projects underway in Alabama and Tennessee, Google will soon have 5 of its 8 company-built U.S. data center campuses located in the Southeast. The strategy is unique among major cloud players, who typically have server farms on each coast, plus one in the heartland. Is Google's focus on the Southeast a leading indicator of future data center development in the region? Or is it simply a case of a savvy player unearthing unique retrofit opportunities that may not work for other cloud builders?
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For Data Centers, Google Likes the Southeast

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The dude at google managing these data centers comes from that area and wants to see his family.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @11:33AM (#51356913) Journal
    FTA: It appears to be an affront to the spread 'em out theory of risk management initially adopted by Google and then copied by FB, Apple, MS,etc.

    I get what they're thinking: friendly economic packages from the locals, close proximity to population centers, lots of convertible existing infrastructure... but the risks of a cataclysmic natural or anthropogenic disaster seem very real over a long enough timeline in a given region.

    At this point, nothing short of their own mismanagement seems likely to upset the Google juggernaut.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They get what they want: cheap land, cheap electricity (coal), low or no taxes (incentives), cheap labor. The states get employment. Oh wait, you're data center is only going to employ 100 people?? Aw, shucks!

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Blame God for putting so much of an efficient fuel source where it's easy to get to.

      • "They get what they want: cheap land, cheap electricity (coal), low or no taxes (incentives), cheap labor."

        And hurricanes?

        • Hurricanes aren't really much of an issue unless you are along the coast. Stay 60+ miles away from the coast and the most likely damage is downed trees and powerlines

          • 1) Floodplains aren't unique to the coast, and the Mississippi River network goes far from the oceans.
            2) Tornadoes.

            • by mysidia ( 191772 )

              2) Tornadoes.

              The #1 weather risk for a Datacenter is lightning., none of the ones you listed.

              If you're building a datacenter, then you can design it to withstand, and selection of elevation for flood risk avoidances. Tornados are a risk, even when there's no hurricane, and the risk is lower most of the time than in flatland areas in the more northerly regions... ask some Kansas residents.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        They get what they want: cheap land, cheap electricity (coal), low or no taxes (incentives), cheap labor. The states get employment. Oh wait, you're data center is only going to employ 100 people?? Aw, shucks!

        I'd bet labor and land/rent costs are the principal reasons. If it's $100,000 a year per datacenter worker in California and $60,000 per year for that same worker in Georgia, if there are a hundred workers, that's four million dollars a year. There may not be as many workers in Georgia or other Southeastern states to source from compared to California and other places known for tech, but there's not as much demand for them either, so the wages aren't being inflated through worker scarcity and competition

      • by Cramer ( 69040 )

        Actually nuclear (and hydro), but the rest is true. In NC/SC, there are vast tracts of former textile mills where there's plenty of cheap land and power.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Anything taking out 2 or more of those data centers out at the same time, for a prolonged time, is either:
      1) a global cataclysmic event, in which case it really does not matter where your data centers are.
      2) a massive US Infrastructure failure, power of network, in which case it also really does not matter where your data center is. A prolonged failure of this magnitude is unlikely to be, and stay, geographically limited. Also your users are likely of the grid as well

      There is a limit to the effectiveness of

    • Given the rapid pace of advancements in the computer industry, over a relatively short timeline this center and everything currently in it will be outdated long before we start to worry about a large scale disaster. Even though Moore's law is falling off in terms of how quickly those advancements are occurring, within 30 years we're fairly likely to have seen about two orders of magnitude increase in performance. The data center as a concept may be completely obsolete or have morphed into something that no
      • That's a great point.

        Still, it only makes it a little less likely your huevos en una canasta strategy fails epically.

      • This, plus sibling AC's post about what is actually happening if something is seriously boning the entire southeast (or $region, generally).

        If Google was building permanent nuclear waste storage facilities, or grand coliseums it wanted to last a hundred generations, they'd need to consider climate/disasters/Civil War 2.0/etc. over a much longer horizon.

        I'm certain that their capital planning includes detailed lifecycle assessments for any new facility like a datacenter. While I'm not privy to such, I
    • I am willing to bet that Google has more than 8 data centers. And as many as they have, placing clusters of data centers in different regions has the same effect as a smaller company putting each of their few data centers in different areas.

      Also by clustering it reduces the costs of laying some seriously high capacity private fiber between them and the five centers can function more like one mammoth center.
    • Much of the infrastructure in that area was built during the massive cold-war build-up of post-nuclear-attack communications infrastructure, in bands around the District of Columbia. The mandate remains for such an infrastructure within reach of a government in flight from a first nuclear attack.

      Military mandates move mountains, so I would guess that a few mountains were moved at Google headquarters, a few at the local and state levels, and possibly one or two at the cash level.

  • I would think that concentrating their datacenters in a part of the country where you need air conditioning 8+ months of the year would make it a wise investment. Even the most efficient data centers produce a fair bit of waste heat.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They're probably using warm water cooling. The winnings on the rest of the costs like the electricity is analyzed in the article, and are likely compensating the additional cooling costs. I suspect the latency balance is the most important consideration, considering the locations.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Lots of sun means lots of solar power potential. Chill the place down real good during the day ...

      The west coast is getting more and more risky. The "big one" is like a hard drive failure - not if, but when. Lots of fires. Not enough water.

      The east coast - you certainly don't want to build in what will be the Gulf of Florida. Then there's hurricanes and storm surges.

      The deep south - hurricanes and storm surges. A crazy religious environment. Too many red republican states with policies that discourage ed

      • Lots of sun means lots of solar power potential.

        The SouthEast is actually fairly cloudy. The region also has solar panel ripping hurricanes and some of the world's most severe thunderstorms. If you want solar, you go to Arizona, not Alabama.

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          The solar panel companies in Alabama have been mentioning, that as an advantage, the panels will help protect your roof in the event of a hurricane, because they are rated for exposure to higher wind speeds than the roofing shingles.

      • What about the NorthWest? Plenty of water, cheap electricity from all the dams, there is some risk from earthquakes and volcanoes, but the risk goes down if they build east of the cascades where there is lots of sunshine (for solar power) and lots of cheap land.

        I would think it would be much less risky than dealing with tornadoes in the flyover states.

      • Flyover states safe fron disasters? Take Oklahoma; you've got tornadoes, earthquakes, icestorms and Okies...
        • Take Florida - you had Jeb Bush, who gave us King George the 2nd , or California, who gave us Ronald Ray-Guns and bs trickle-down economics that people still insist must work, even though studies show it just makes the richer richer and the poor poorer.

          Get rid of fracking, you'll get rid of almost all the earthquakes.

    • I would think that concentrating their datacenters in a part of the country where you need air conditioning 8+ months of the year would make it a wise investment. Even the most efficient data centers produce a fair bit of waste heat.

      In that case, wouldn't Fairbanks, Alaska or Maine be a good place to build their data centers? So that those computers can be partly cooled by ambient cooling?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's dispense with all the conspiracy theories. This is a business. A business is going to do whatever is financially (read: taxes) is in its best interest.

  • by ndtechnologies ( 814381 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:06PM (#51357003)
    The southeastern US has all of this abandoned textile infrastructure, which is much easier to retrofit into a datacenter, than it is to build a new one from scratch. That's exactly what Facebook did with their data center in my hometown of Forest City.
  • They're a general user focused company, so they want their data centers to be close to where most of the people in the U.S. are [datacenterfrontier.com].

    Beyond that, then they look for places with existing power and Internet infrastructure they can tap into. This isn't a big mystery.

    • I have to say it's this. 50% of the US population lives in the Eastern time zone. That means if you only have things on the east coast, you are most likely to cover everyone. Ask someone in a central state what their latency and network paths are, you end up going to Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, LA and sometimes the bay area to change networks. Not a lot of interconnection happens in the mountain states, and even markets like Phoenix while large don't quite have enough density to make sense.

  • major cloud players, who typically have server farms on each coast,

    Did you know there are more than just 2 coasts
    In addition to East and West, there's a;so the South (Gulf of Mrxico)
    and theres also the North Shore (its Northeast of Duluth)
    That would be a good place for a datacenter , less cost in cooling and no worries about hurricanes even with global warming.

    • You forgot all the shoreline around Alaska and Hawaii and Puerto Rico ...
  • If I'm thinking about putting down a data center, I'm not thinking of the place that needs the most A/C due to climate. Canada is supposed to have cheap hydro-electric, and if its located a northern latitude, it doesn't need much A/C to keep cool.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      The latency to places in Canada where they have datacenters is atrocious, for much of the US. The more northerly you go, the bigger an issue it is.

    • by ebvwfbw ( 864834 )

      Well it's Canada. Isn't 'nuff said?

      Don't get me wrong, I love the Canadian people. They certainly could do it. However who wants to freeze their balls off in the winter? Then there's the holier than thou attitude of the Canadians. They don't seem to appreciate the US. At least that's how it sure feels whenever I've been up there or worked with IT workers from Canada. One guy had a head so big I'm not sure how his head fit through the door. I'd say he was about an average IT guy.

  • "For Data Centers, Google Likes the Southeast"

    That's also just called 'The South'.

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