Just like when you buy a house or set-up a business, location is paramount when selecting a data center colocation facility. Several factors must be considered during the evaluation, including proximity to your company’s location. If you are planning to use a data center colocation facility as a primary or secondary site, your IT staff should be able to easily access the facility. Everyone involved in maintaining your IT infrastructure needs to be able to visit the location.

In contrast, if you are considering data center colocation to support your disaster recovery strategy, you will want to put some distance between your primary data center site and your disaster recovery site. Why? If there’s a regional power outage or some other disaster scenario that affects your primary site, you want to ensure that you disaster recovery site is far enough away so that it is unaffected — and can keep your business running.

Whichever data center use-case you employ, you will want a data center that has access to major roads and highways. Proximity to airports and hotels is also important.

  • Geographic stability. Geographic stability involves climate and seismic activity. Being near a fault line, for instance, could be especially troubling. Although there are building technologies that can mitigate risk, clients will likely pay a higher price to offset the cost of protecting the data center from earthquakes. Minimizing the risk from all of these factors ensures a more geographically stable location.
  • Access to power. Where are the power stations, substations and facility feeds located? Access to power involves two things: delivering power to clients’ equipment within the data center and getting power delivered to the data center itself. You need to evaluate not just your company’s access to power, but the facility’s overall access to the power grid.

When evaluating a location, you need to consider all these factors. Developing a checklist will help you consider the likelihood of any particular location experiencing a disaster. You can then determine the extent of the risk at each location. The higher the location risk, the greater the risk of an outage occurring. Downtime, even for short periods, can have a catastrophic effect on business operations.

Here’s a sample of questions that should be answered as part of a location checklist:

  • What’s the history of disasters in the location??
  • Is the facility located in a 100-yr or 500-yr floodplain?
  • What’s the zoning at the current facility?
  • Is there current or planned construction activity near the data center?
  • Is the data center in close proximity to fire department and first responders?
  • Is the data center in close proximity to airport flight paths?
  • Do any nearby business operations pose a threat?
  • How is the facility constructed? Can it withstand risks from likely disasters? How would you evaluate building construction such as exterior wall material, structural reinforcements, interior wall fire ratings, lighting protection systems, roof construction, window and glass locations and other building factors that would be affected by a disaster?