In the world of cloud computing, one essential ingredient is a database that can accommodate a very large number of users on an on-demand basis. Many Web applications use databases, typically of the SQL variety, for various tasks. What's needed is a database that can be carved into subsets that can be accessed by various users, is distributed across many servers and is highly responsive; it should also be able accommodate a virtually infinite variety of data tables.
The market is crowded with off-site datacenter service providers who will either rent your company space on their servers or play host to your business's own servers. Choosing the right datacenter for your organization's needs is a complex process.
The numbers are startling. Currently, 4 percent of the North American power supply is consumed by datacenters powering the Internet, and by 2008, 50 percent of those datacenters will have insufficient cooling and power capacity to meet the demands of high-density equipment, according to Gartner Inc.. In short, power costs will outpace the price tag on IT infrastructure, meaning that the Internet's carbon footprint is growing while threatening the growth of the industries that depend on it.
Ceres (pronounced "series"), a national leader in pressuring corporations into environmentally sustainable practices, works with companies through its network of investors and environmental organizations to address challenges like global warming by evaluating companies' total carbon-dioxide emissions. Yet, even with 17 years of experience in determining environmentally sound corporate practices, Ceres has yet to address the datacenter energy crisis.
Luckily, the Internet is a next-generation economy with next-generation solutions. Instead of denying the problem exists, like the petroleum and automotive industries, the information-based economy has tackled the problem head-on, applying solutions directly to its forehead.
In 2006, Google secretly relocated its datacenters to the rural Oregon nexus of fiber-optic infrastructure and cheap, renewable, hydroelectric energy, only to find that the National Security Agency had secretly beat the search-engine giant to the power-and-IT-backbone punch by an undisclosed number of years. Since then, companies like Yahoo, Ask.com and others have joined the Google rush to rural Oregon, searching for their once-hefty ROIs (return on investment), which have steadily been eaten away by rising energy costs.
The early architects of the Internet could never have anticipated that it would one day consume four percent of the North American power supply. Since the Google Boom, data center expansion and relocation has sprinted to keep up, applying pressure on an already-taxed energy grid.
When faced with power bills that dwarf their IT hardware costs, some companies have relocated to sources of cheap power, while others have looked for green energy solutions to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprints.
The crunch reached critical proportions in September 2005, when Google datacenter engineer Luiz Andre Barroso wrote, "The possibility of computer equipment power consumption spiraling out of control could have serious consequences for the overall affordability of computing, not to mention the overall health of the planet."
Shortly thereafter, Google began constructing its new datacenter in rural Oregon, strategically located between cheap hydroelectric power generated by the Grand Cooley Dam and a fiber-optic broadband infrastructure paid for by an investment of Oregonian tax dollars during the dot-com boom of the 1990s. Google has more than 1 million servers and has been steadily adding 300,000 to 400,000 per year. Its datacenter in The Dalles, Oregon consists of two buildings, each about the size of a football field, and two four-story cooling plants. Google found the perfect datacenter location on the Columbia River in Oregon, and soon was joined by other Internet data giants like Yahoo! and Microsoft.
Meanwhile, the green solution has been implemented by companies like CityNAP in San Antonio, an Internet hub as well as a datacenter, which serves as a platform for companies like AT&T and Time Warner Cable. CityNAP, founded in 2006 by Silicon Valley veteran Frank Robles, became the first green datacenter in Texas by purchasing all of its power from wind energy, eliminating its strain on the power grid.
Industry giants like IBM have also started to think green, offering datacenter solutions that conserve energy and reduce costs while increasing performance. Sensing that green is a looming issue in the next generation of computing, IBM is marketing its servers and data center solutions to company managers who want to save the environment as well as their money.
Top 10 Most Expensive Data Center Cities (by operating costs)
1. New York, NY $14.1 million
2. San Francisco, CA $13.8 million
3. Oakland, CA $13.3 million
4. Boston, MA $12.7 million
5. Detroit, MI $12.6 million
6. Chicago, IL $12.4 million
7. Philadelphia, PA $12.3 million
8. Cherry Hill, NJ $11.9 million
9. Minneapolis, MN $11.8 million
10. Buffalo, NY $11.6 million
Top 10 Cheapest Data Center Cities (by operating costs)
1. Sioux Falls, S.D. $9.7 million
2. San Antonio, TX $10.3 million
3. Ames, IA $10.4 million
4. Tulsa, OK $10.5 million
5. Des Moines, IA $10.5 million
6. Omaha, NE $10.5 million
7. Colorado Springs $10.7 million
8. Albuquerque, N.M. $10.8 million
9. Denton, TX $10.9 million
10. Champaign, Ill. $11.1 million