For tech managers selecting a site to host their data infrastructure there has always been a strong impulse to host those servers and hardware in a facility within three hours’ drive of the company headquarters. Some call it the “Server Hugger” mentality, which makes IT personnel at ease when they are near their hardware. But slowly companies are recognizing that it’s much more cost effective and less risky to host your data infrastructure in a place like Utah than near their headquarters.
The appeal of a place like Utah isn’t obvious unless you look at the numbers. With servers consuming more and more power and with an ever lower tolerance for downtime, Utah’s low cost of power and disaster safe geography make it a straight forward choice.
Commercial Power Comparison by State
State | Cost per Kw/hr (Rank Among All States)
California | $13.73 (#43)
Arizona | $10.08 (#30)
Colorado | $9.93 (#28)
Nevada | $9.44 (#22)
Oregon | $8.92 (#16)
Utah | $8.46 (#8)
Washington | $8.02 (#4)
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration April 2015 Commercial Power Costs http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_6_a
Presidential Disaster Declarations by State
State | Total Disaster Declarations (Rank Among All States)
California | 236 (#49)
Arizona | 78 (#41)
Colorado | 84 (#43)
Nevada | 76 (#39)
Oregon | 89 (#44)
Utah | 33 (#7)
Washington | 128 (#46)
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Declarations by State/Tribal Government
The low cost of power combined with a disaster safe geography has made Utah the location for much of the world’s archival data. Many data archive companies have a data center footprint in Utah. In 2010 the NSA built a massive data center facility in Utah to support its massive data storage projects.
For companies located out of the state of Utah accessibility is a major site selection criteria. The server hugger mentality is real and high accessibility goes a long way to easing their fears. Fortunately, Utah has a major airport that ranks #1 in on-time arrival and departures and is a major delta hub with frequent non-stop flights.
Airport and On-Time Performance Summary (Rank)
State | On-Time Performance Arrival Summary (Rank)
LAX – Los Angeles International | 78% (#20)
SAN – San Diego International | 79% (#13)
SFO – San Francisco International | 71% (#27)
PHX – Phoenix Sky Harbor International | 81% (#8)
DEN – Denver International | 78% (#16)
LAS – Las Vegas McCarran International | 80% (#10)
PDX – Portland International | 82% (#7)
SLC – Salt Lake City International | 87% (#1)
SEA – Seattle/Tacoma International | 83% (#3)
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics
It may take a while for managers to get comfortable with their data infrastructure located out of state, but the server hugger mentality will eventually break down. Business disruption due to natural disasters plus the high service costs will force IT managers to consider what matters most, and when they do they’ll choose Utah for data infrastructure site selection.