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Where in the world is my datacenter?

IntroIn a world where datacenters can be built on massive sites in rural North Carolina, in modular pods dropped down in Las Vegas, or in renewable energy-powered countries like Iceland, datacenter operators have a lot of options. Many are looking to differentiate themselves on efficiency and geography, says Kevin Timmons, the CTO of co-location datacenter operator CyrusOne, at GigaOM’s Structure event on Thursday. Energy efficiency might not have been so important in the past, said Timmons, but that’s increasingly changing as the customer sees they can write a smaller check for using less power. Tate Cantrell, CTO of Verne Global, which built a datacenter in Iceland that runs completely on the country’s hydro and geothermal power, says renewable energy is also becoming an increasingly important factor in deciding where to build datacenters. Cantrell sees a world where the data and processing move to where the low cost clean power is. “I envision datacenters being built in deserts next to giant solar farms, and it’s this crowd that can deliver the innovation needed to make that happen,” said Cantrell, referring to the Structure audience. The typical enterprise customer might not be ready for all of these new features, says Timmons. A fast-growing enterprise is about four years behind the Facebooks, Microsofts, and Yahoos of the world, he said. There’s still a need for some legacy architecture, and it’s about getting efficiencies from yesterday’s infrastructure, said Jason Mendenhall, EVP of Cloud, Switch, which built a massive datacenter in Las Vegas. Increasingly datacenter operators are having to look at the big picture, which includes power and water and location. Facilities managers would previously start taking over when we datacenter architecture and design was needed, but now these types of efficiency constraints are being baked into the design of the hardware itself, said Mendenhall. The Switch datacenter has four different, patented dynamic ways to cool itself where the site chooses the most efficient method of cooling at any one time.
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