– Tim Comerford, senior vice president, Biggins Lacy Shapiro and principal, Sugarloaf Associates, and Tracey Hyatt Bosman, managing director and Midwest practice leader of Biggins Lacy Shapiro.
Data center location searches begin with an unrelenting list of requirements, including robust and reliable infrastructure, low cost power, minimal risk of natural or manmade disaster, favorable tax structures, and lucrative economic development incentives. Vetting potential sites against such a long list of criteria is time-consuming, and time is something that most companies lack. Data center operators want fast answers and a high level of confidence there won’t be any deal-crashing surprises during the due diligence phase.
In response, some economic development organizations and utilities have begun proactively identifying and vetting potential data center sites. To assist in this process and provide an independent review of a site’s potential to house a data center, Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co. (BLS), a consulting firm specializing in location economics, has established a data center site qualification program, recently qualifying nine data center sites for one of the nation’s largest utilities, American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP). (More details about the sites and the criteria used can be found at www.aepdatacenters.com.)
In addition to looking for ways to condense the time required to identify a site, new location trends include:
Increased power requirements: Today’s data centers are looking for more power, frequently as much as 200W and 300W per square foot. This presents problems for existing facilities built for lower power densities.
Microwave technology:Microwave and millimeter wave technology are being deployed to move data faster to transmit data point-to-point, allowing companies to consider locations once thought too distant or too remote for a data center.
Need for IT talent: Increasingly organizations are co-locating more staff with the physical data center. This trend, combined with today’s shortage of certain IT skillsets, is causing data center operators to place greater emphasis on labor considerations when siting and designing data centers.
About the authors:
Tracey Hyatt Bosman, managing director and Midwest practice leader of Biggins Lacy Shapiro, develops and executes incentives and location selection strategies for BLS’ corporate and institutional clients.
Timothy R. Comerford, senior vice president, Biggins Lacy Shapiro and principal, Sugarloaf Associates, leads a specially designed interdisciplinary affiliate of BLS & Co., with a special focus on mission critical facilities.