Chris Crosby’s audacious plan to extend data center services to underserved markets was the first of several conversations that got me to wondering how markets become underserved in the first place.

We’re all familiar with the thought processes that enterprises use to site facilities. Facebook’s Rachel Peterson recounts some of that company’s thinking in a video on our website. Yahoo! also explained its logic in siting its chicken coop facility in Lockport, NY. Factors such as utility cost, educated labor force, fiber availability, and relative safety are usually prominent. Sometimes the cumulative effect of these decisions results in local hot spots, as Dennis Cronin explained in a column in our March 2010 issue. Other markets have special proximity to customers and thrive despite high costs and risk factors. Think Manhattan, Silicon Valley, and New Jersey.

Some regions throw money at possible developers.

Yet there seems to be numerous businesses in small to medium-sized cities that must chose to develop and run their own facilities or use a service provider from another market. Where is the threshold that makes data center development attractive in these markets?

On the flip side, if data service is the new utility, does the lack of an installed base of data centers doom a community to second tier status?

I’m curious what people think about this issue, and I’ll be using the next few days at the 7x24 Exchange in Orlando to do a little research. I’ll be there for three days and am really looking forward to the event. As always organizers have developed a first-class program keynoted by a non-industry figure: Captain Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 commander. Lovell continues 7x24 Exchange’s practice of looking to outside figures—sometimes larger than life heroes—who tend to remind me of the spectacular importance of some human endeavors, only some of which can be supported by a data center in a meaningful way.

I also enjoy the leisurely pace of 7x24 Exchange events. Because of the length of time people invest in attending the event, conversations and discussions are not constrained by time or calendared for later discussions. Lengthier meetings can be held during networking sessions, later at the bar, or during meals without the clock watching that can affect shorter events. I get a lot done knowing I don’t have to sprint to the airport.

So if you see me there, stop and say hello. Just know I may ask you some questions about the data center market in your area.