Originally posted to DP Facilitites

When it comes to choosing the ideal data center, there are a host of variables that businesses must keep in mind in order to achieve successful site selection. From finding low natural disaster risk to assessing robust connectivity, it can seem like a balancing act between different interests and necessities. Total cost of ownership (TCO), however, should remain a core element of site selection regardless of digital transformation goals, data workloads or industry vertical.

In essence, TCO is a tool for holistic cost estimation that enables more informed decision making in a data center selection process, and it includes five major costs: infrastructure, server acquisition, power utilization, networking equipment and maintenance. While it may seem straightforward, the truth is that TCO can be influenced by so many elements — local tax incentives, regional utility rates, differing climates, green power availability and more. Luckily, many TCO factors can be chosen well by considering just one aspect of site selection: geography or physical location of the data center.

Prospective tenants should be targeting a market with a good mix of natural disaster aversion, abundant low-cost power (including available green energy), or other operational efficiencies (such as colder climates that help with cooling costs), access to a skilled workforce, beneficial business climates and connectivity. This decision-making approach is why so many are drawn to major markets like Loudoun County in Northern Virginia — also known as Data Center Alley. Often referenced as the world’s largest concentration of data centers — with more than 18 million square feet currently in operation — and regarded as the location through which a majority of the world’s internet traffic flows, this rapidly growing market boasts a range of benefits for facility owners and tenants alike. The area’s Fast-Track Commercial Incentive Program allows data center operators to deploy in the market quickly, while the typical power rate in this area is 28 percent below the U.S. average and the market offers a best-in-class high-tech workforce. Low earthquake risks and easy access to the hub of Washington D.C. make this locale a mainstay in the data center world.

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