You would like to find an East Coast data center but aren’t sure where to look.

It’s a tough decision for anyone - ask Facebook or Microsoft. They use nearly fifty different factors to determine where to locate a data center.

If they are that choosy, you should be as well.

North Carolina and Virginia are two of the fastest-growing data center areas in the east. Let’s compare some factors to determine whether NC or VA data centers are right for you.

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Power Costs and the Good News

One of the biggest concerns about data centers is power consumption. It is estimated by Anthesis that electricity consumption will increase to 140 billion kilowatt-hours and cost businesses $13 billion a year.

North Carolina and Virginia are both below the national average for the cost of electricity for the industrial sector, with North Carolina coming in at 6.75 cents per kilowatt-hour and Virginia 6.98 cents for August 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Providers in both NC and VA are seeking ways to provide low-cost, reliable electricity with renewable resources to lower the carbon footprint of data centers.

In North Carolina, Amazon is building a huge wind farm to supply electricity to the local utility grid. It’s also building the largest solar farm in Virginia. Amazon has stated that its goal is to achieve 100% renewable energy power for its data centers.

Apple, too, is striving for the 100% mark. Apple already has two solar energy farms in North Carolina and is building a third one to power its data centers and operations.

Location, Location, Location

What makes North Carolina’s location ideal?

  • Access – Major airports and large cities like Charlotte provide ease of access to data centers. Being on the coast also increases accessibility.
  • Reliable Power Infrastructure – Much of the infrastructure was in place from when the textile industry was dominant here, so the capacity is available for NC data centers.
  • Rural – Rural land is less expensive for data center expansion and renewable energy plants.
  • Incentives – North Carolina can give tax breaks to data centers. For example, Apple was given $46 million and Google $212 million in tax breaks to build in NC.
  • Connectivity – Six providers offer the bandwidth and fiber data centers require. The advantage of having rural areas is magnified by the fact that rural Western North Carolina has fiber optic networks and multiple broadband providers – more so than many large cities can offer.
  • Climate – Not too hot, not too cold, so open-air cooling is possible, saving energy costs.
  • Lemming Effect – This is the term for what happens when a large data center is built, and other data center providers rush to the same area. Usually, it is because of favorable conditions for the data centers. Major players such as Amazon, Apple, Disney, EMC, Facebook, and Google have data centers in NC.

Virginia’s location is ideal because:

  • Connectivity – Virginia is one of the most connected states in the U.S., with over 1,500 miles of fiber network. 70% of the world’s internet traffic goes through Ashburn, Virginia.
  • Accessibility – Washington, D.C., is next door to many VA data centers. International airports like Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National are located in Virginia. Major highways and Atlantic ports make for easy access.
  • Incentives – Virginia legislation allows data centers with certain requirements a Sales Use Tax exemption on equipment.
  • Lemming Effect – Major players in Virginia include Amazon, AOL, Equinix, and Verizon. Equinix currently has 10 data centers in VA that serve over 650 businesses, and it has approval to build the third-largest data center in the world in Virginia. (Northern Virginia is the largest multi-tenant market in the U.S.)

The Bottom Line

Both NC data centers and VA data centers have a lot going for them. Low-cost energy, high connectivity, easy access, incentives to drive down operating costs, and access to major providers make either an attractive solution.

Do you have servers in a North Carolina or Virginia data center? Do you think NC or VA data centers have the greater advantage? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.

Data Center Sales & Marketing Institute (DCSMI) Update Newsletter

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