Power Up: Can a Colocation Partner Resource Your Expanding Business?

For data centers, growth keeps coming like a freight train. Between corporate systems, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things, data generation is growing at 50 per cent annually. In every technology company worldwide, IoT is an R&D priority. Major cloud providers say they’ll need to triple their infrastructure by 2020.

In our once brick-and-mortar business, there is now only forward momentum at a rapid pace. Collectively we face an ongoing universal planning challenge: How to expand effectively and efficiently to meet the demands of high-growth customers with aggressive timelines.

For clients, evaluating potential colocation partners is a demanding task. All data centers are not equal in their ability to scale. There are many factors that can limit a DC’s capacity for increased storage, not the least of which is power.

Power is a lot like water: an essential resource we take for granted. But the fact is that in some regions in North America and around the globe, power is not an unlimited resource.

In the U.S. for example, the latest survey from MISO, the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator, identified a decrease in power capacity that challenges the accepted standards of reliability for the 42 million people that make up its market.

In Europe, power is a growing concern in France. Its declining generating capacity has to be top of mind for clients looking to grow. In an already restricted market, the 2024 Summer Olympics could have potential for a short-term diversion of power. With the average cost of an hour of outage $100,000, companies have to weigh the risks.

The bottom line is this: a data center is only good as the power system that supports it. Adding megawatts of capacity quickly in order to power a new data hall may not be in the interest of a utility that also needs to provide power for homes and other businesses. There might not be enough to go around.

In Canada, we are power-rich. Over the past three years, we’ve built-out more than a million square feet of data center space requiring more than 100MW of power. We are strong particularly in Quebec where almost 100 per cent of our power comes from hydroelectricity. Since 1997, Hydro-Quebec has been steadily increasing its export sales to wholesale markets in northeastern North America. In 2016, it tabled a record volume of net electricity exports.

Quebec power is ample, and importantly, it is affordable. Power costs for data center operations are four times lower in Montreal than in California, for example, and twice as low as Toronto where energy costs have almost doubled since 2006. Amazon opened its Montreal hub here in 2016, saying Quebec’s energy rates were a deciding factor. “We picked the area we did because of the hydro power.”

Are you asking the right questions? For more information on evaluating your data center’s ability to scale, download ROOT Data Center’s Power, Real Estate and Capability: Evaluating Your Data Center’s Expansion Capacity