Data Centers: It’s All About Location

Has the location for your data center facility been properly vetted?  There are many considerations, and they have evolved considerably since many existing data centers were constructed and put into production.

First, from TIA-924-A-2012 (these are very basic requirements; they must be satisfied before any discussion of Tier 3 or higher takes place):

  • Data Centers: It's All About LocationIf cooling equipment, generators, fuel tanks, or access provider equipment is situated outside the customer space, then this equipment should be adequately secured.  In the Midwest, this also means sustaining a 120 MPH wind load.
  • The data center owner will need access to this space 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week. (This is impossible if the facility is within a ½ mile of a major sporting venue)
  • The computer room should not be located directly in close proximity to a parking garage
  • The site should not be located in a 100-year flood plain, near an earthquake fault, on a hill subject to slide risk, or downstream from a dam or water tower.
  • The site should not be in the flight path of any nearby airports.
  • The site should be no closer than 0.8 km (½ mile) from a railroad or major interstate highway to minimize risk of chemical spills.
  • The site should not be within 0.4 km (¼ mile) of a research lab, chemical plant, landfill, river, coastline, or dam.
  • The site should not be within 8.0 km (5 miles) of a major airport.
  • The site should not be within 0.8 km (½ mile) of a military base.  (This includes National Guard armories and reserve unit headquarters)
  • The site should not be within 1.6 km (1 mile) of nuclear, munitions, or defense plants.

Next, from the school of common sense:

  • Power Grid Considerations:
    • Does the local grid have adequate capacity and overhead?
    • The closer a grid is to a major downtown area, the older and less reliable the infrastructure.
  • Building Perimeter Considerations:
    • Does the data center building have a buffer zone to the edge of the property?
    • Does the data center building directly border a street or a sidewalk?
  • Is the data center structure within a ½ mile or less of a likely terror target?  (e.g. a major sporting venue)
  • Structural Considerations:
    • Does the structure meet standards for IBC (International Building Code) Construction Type 1B?
    • Are the exterior walls and roof system rated for 120 MPH wind loads?

Remember, these are baseline requirements – a starting point.   These guidelines should be used as a bare minimum checklist to be satisfied before entering into any serious discussions with any potential data center or cloud service provider.

Rich Banta

Rich Banta

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Rich is responsible for Compliance and Certifications, Data Center Operations, Information Technology, and Client Concierge Services. Rich has an extensive background in server and network management, large scale wide-area networks, storage, business continuity, and monitoring. Rich is a former CTO of a major health care system. Rich is hands-on every day in the data centers. He also holds many certifications, including: CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor CRISC – Certified in Risk & Information Systems Management CDCE – Certified Data Center Expert CDCDP – Certified Data Center Design Professional
Rich Banta