Despite the term "cloud," which tends to downplay factors related to physical location, and the rise in concern about cyber-attack, which can be perpetrated from anywhere in the world, the place where data is housed remains of paramount concern for IT professionals.
Proximity to water and the electrical grid is critical. Political and economic stability is also key to sustaining site and data security. In addition, there is the long-term need for highly skilled personnel to tend to the site, providing maintenance and upkeep of the facility and computing equipment as well as of the data itself.
DATA CENTER RISK INDEX
Ranked from most attractive (highest score) to least attractive (lowest score), countries received a score based on 11 factors, including energy cost, international bandwidth, ease of doing business, corporation tax, cost of labor, political stability, sustainability, natural disasters, GDP per capita, inflation, and water availability. Source: hurleypalmerflatt and Cushman & Wakefield.
According to this Data Center Risk Index, the US is the most attractive location among 20 countries ranked according to the risks likely to affect successful data center operations. Energy is relatively inexpensive in the US and the country has an excellent reputation as a place to do business. Despite high corporation tax, the US is expected to remain the top choice for companies seeking a low risk location. Canada, which ranked second, scored top in political stability and water availability, fourth in sustainability and corporation tax, and fifth in ease of doing business, making it a highly desirable country in which to locate data centers. Advances in distributed computing and network technologies have made it possible for companies to venture farther afield into rural areas that optimize site selection based on cooling, power, bandwidth, and lower risk profiles. Such centers pump and recirculate cool groundwater in lieu of using chillers and use free outside air to cool tens of megawatts of server heat.