One of the most important decisions a colocation service provider and a colocation customer can make is the geographical location of the data center. Where a data center is located plays a huge role in connectivity as well as safety. Even if a data center is built with state of the art security, the right tsunami, tornado or hurricane can wipe it off the map. According to the official Data Center Map, there are around 1,500 colocation data centers in 49 US states (and counting). However, the vast majority of them are located in states that aren’t exactly known for their lack of natural disasters.
Furthermore, many of these data centers are in states that are broke, have exorbitantly high state income tax rates or both. While that may not be the best tactic for the providers themselves, it also makes it much more likely that these financial stressors will be passed on to customers. If a California colocation provider is getting stung with a ten percent state income tax, but such a provider in Nevada has a zero percent rate, who do you think is picking up that slack?
Is Bigger Always Better?
The good thing about having a colocation provider in a dense state is the Lemming Effect of business. Where there are gatherings of any type of business, there’s a reason. Many times (and hopefully!) this is because there are resources there which benefit the business, and that trickles down to the customer. In the US, by far the most popular state for colocation data centers is California with around 200. However, this is also a state fraught with the constant threat of the “big one.” A large enough earthquake could certainly take down a data center and everything else in its path. Plus, California is a notoriously indebted state with high state taxes.
Next up is Texas with around 150 data centers. A sprawling state, Texas can be vulnerable to anything from hurricanes to tornadoes and earthquakes. However, the state tax rate in the Lone Star State is moderate at 6.4 percent. There is certainly enough flat land here to build a sprawling data center, and even with the large size there are decently sized metros peppered throughout. In third place is New York with about 100 data centers. Of course, New York weather can be brutal—Sandy is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Intense flooding like that can wipe out a data center, and the four very distinct seasons here can be tough on any type of business. However, with a state tax of just four percent, from that perspective it’s still much better than some other options.
Going Off the Grid (But Not Really)
When selecting a colocation service provider, also consider their data center’s proximity to you. That can help with speed and service. If you live, do business in or have a lot of customers in a state that is not prone to natural disasters, such as Utah, that’s even better. The states with the least amount of data centers include Maine, Mississippi and Montana with just three—but that may be a warning sign itself. Instead, aim for a state with a moderate amount. For example, Utah has just over 20 data centers and Arizona has 36. You want there to be evidence that data centers are and can be successful in the region of your choice.
There are also options of using offshore colocation services, but that should only be considered if you have an office in another country and/or a significant amount of your website visitors are from a specific region. In North America, the vast majority of data centers are in the US, while there are only about 120 in Canada and a tiny handful in Greenland. Choosing a colocation provider is no time to blaze new trails. Consider what others are doing, where the hubs are and the natural disaster tendencies when taking decisions.
Like in real estate, rack rental space is all about location, location, location. Choose wisely and you’ll optimize your website. Choose wrong, and you’re signing up for unnecessary troubles.