iWeb has recently announced the opening of its third data center in Montréal. It seems that the city is a good place for web hosting purposes.
John Rath, a data centers expert, has produced an analysis [PDF] establishing localization factors for a data centers. According to Mr. Rath, the selection of a site requires some instinct : “the most important factor is simply building where their gut feeling is”. But two practical issues come first when considering site selection.
1. Natural Disasters and Weather
Vulnerability to disasters of a geographical location has an important impact on the viability of a site. A data center must not be exposed to power outage because of hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes or floods.
2. Workforce and Business Climate
The availability of a qualified workforce is another essential factor. Same thing for demographic trends of one city compared to another. Evidently, the business climate, including governmental subsidies, tax breaks and costs of doing business are requirements not to be neglected. It is also important to estimate energy consumption costs, and the proportion of this energy that is “green”.
Many others factors are analyzed in Mr. Rath’s document.
According to Mr. Rath’s analysis, we can conclude that Montréal is an excellent site to establish a data center. The city had some problems with an ice storm at the end of the 1990s, but Hydro-Québec, the state run electrical utility has since updated its network and infrastructure. Furthermore, because of the great hydroelectric potential (a relatively green way of producing energy), the electricity is available at low prices. Finally, Montréal can count on five Universities on its territory, providing a steady stream of IT professionals… which could eventually join iWeb workforce !