In this digital age, more and more companies are becoming reliant on data centers. The huge facilities contain hardware that acts as a storage space for massive amounts of — you guessed it — data. The use of these digital warehouses is multitudinous, but hard to imagine in any concrete form; you can put them to work processing large amounts of data you’ve collected or simply take advantage of their size to store the information of customers, clients, or patients.
Cloud-based data centers allow ease of access and high quality, incredibly powerful processing capabilities that most likely will be far superior to any computing systems you have onsite (when looking at power density, data centers offer 100 times more than that of a large commercial office building). As a result, they offer great benefits to any up-and-coming — or already firmly established — businesses.
Let’s take a look at an example. Pharmaceutical companies are big proponents of data center use, though not in the way you might suspect. Rather than storing patient information on the center’s servers, they’ve turned their attention to HVAC optimization.
Pharmaceutical companies often possess their own expansive facilities that are utilized for the manufacture of drugs and medications. The precise nature of this job requires constant temperature monitoring and control, and relies on large cooling, boiler, and air handling systems to do so. However, they often run wastefully, and their maintenance requires more than just a change of air filters every three months; by creating a two-way data flow between the HVAC equipment and building automation system (BAS), real-time monitoring, analysis, maintenance, and fine tuning can be performed on the HVAC system. The result is an energy use reduction of between 20% to 35%, saving as much as $500,000 to one million dollars a year — and all without risking product quality or quantity.
Not So Fast!
The success of data center work is nuanced; before you go hitching your business to the data center post, you need to consider just what you’re using it for. For pharmaceutical companies, who depend on the processing power to optimize their cooling systems, the choice is a no-brainer. If you want to use a cloud-based data facility to host your website, however, there’s more to it.
It’s true that web hosting can be extremely profitable: your goal as an online business is to give potential consumers what they’re looking for as fast as possible, and hooking yourself up to a data center with immense computing capabilities can do precisely that. But that’s just one half of the equation — consumers need to be able to find your website first.
That’s where search engine optimization comes in. Search is one of the top Internet activities, so if you’re not doing all you can to appear in a search engine’s top results, you’re inherently losing business. Through quality content and the expert use of keywords (and a variety of other techniques), you can boost your website’s rating and get to that coveted number one spot; data centers can either help or hinder this goal.
Location, Location, Location
When a user (a.k.a., potential customer) loads your website, it passes from the data center of its host to the user via a passage of interconnected networks — the Internet. Consider the path from the center to the computer to be like a road through the world wide web; the closer the data center is to your consumers, the faster the page will load for them. While this doesn’t immediately seem like a pressing issue, statistics have shown that slow pages directly impact user experiences: around 40% of visitors will abandon your website after a three second delay.
With data centers being constructed all over the world, it might seem wise to go for the cheaper option like, say, opting for a less expensive center in India despite the fact that your business is based in America. If your target audience is Americans, they’ll inherently be facing slower load times because of the distance between them and the center.
Basically, use your best judgment. Think about whether or not your business could benefit from a data center: if so, make sure it’s located nearby.