Will Silicon Valley Run Out of Data Center Space? Arrow to Content

May 17, 2010 | Leave a Comment

By Wing Ko

This slashdot posting caught my eyes last night – http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/08/12/2227215/Will-Silicon-Valley-Run-Out-of-Data-Center-Space. Judging from the thread, apparently it caught the eyes of quite a few people too.

With all the exciting news and press releases during the dotcom era, most non-IT people thought that all the data centers were in California (and for the few better informed ones, the rest of the data centers were in Virginia). With hotties like Google, eBay, Myspace, and Facebook, I think, now, even many IT people thought that all the data centers, computing and people power are in CA. No doubt, many data centers and talented people are in CA, particularly Silicon Valley and its surrounding areas. And the world’s computing needs has just begun. But to say that it may run out of data center space? That’s pretty far-fetch. Or was it?

Last summer when I was in the Silicon Valley area, there were plenty of vacant offices and buildings, courtesy of the dotbomb. I checked with folks recently, and it’s still the same way if not worst, due to the (Great) Recession. So there are plenty of offices, spaces, and even lands for data centers, right? Well, maybe …

Data centers are a little like farms. Growing plants and crops, you’ll need clean/cheap/free water, ample/free sunlight, strong/diverse root systems, rich soil, cheap/free lands, and knowledge of how to grow and care for the plants. Good, money making data centers need cheap/effective cooling (water or air), clean/reliable/cheap (electric) power, big-fat/diverse/cheap network pipes, lands free of natural disasters, cheap lands, and skill/cheap talents.

Silicon Valley is probably not the best place to make money building data centers, and many figured this out a decade ago. The truth is that there are many mega data centers located outside of the West and East coasts, and more build outs continue to happen outside of the coasts, so I don’t think Silicon Valley will run out of data center space any time soon. Besides, with cloud computing, you really shouldn’t be too concern about a particular physical location of your provider’s data center as long as you and your provider have good business continuity plans in place.

One of the neat tricks (advantages) of cloud computing is the pooling and dynamic reassigning of resources as needed. Thus, even in case your provider does run out of space in their Silicon Valley data center, they should be able to transparently move your sites/services someplace else – nice, huh?

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