Why Putting Your Data Center in Canada Is Sensible
There are a lot of myths about Canada-most related to the country's climate-but these misconceptions actually leave some wondering if Canada might be a good location for a data center.
Michel Cartier, Kelvin Emtech CEO and president of the Data Center Innovation Expo, was joined by other experts from Quebec and beyond at last month's DCIE in Montreal to discuss recent data center innovations.
According to Cartier, there are numerous reasons that Canada is an appealing data center location.
- Canada in general-and the province of Quebec in particular-has low energy costs and water rates.
- Highly trained people, skilled labor and private network providers are all easy to find.
- Canada is generally regarded as a low risk for both natural and man-made disasters.
"Most companies coming into Canada aren't a Yahoo or Google type of company," Cartier says. "We're seeing large, global co-locators with customers based in Europe and Asia who want to bring operations to North America but need regulations that protect the customer's privacy."
Canada's Climate a Natural Fit for Free Cooling
The recently released Data Centre Risk Index ranks Canada second out of 20 countries, with the United States No. 1. The report, produced by Cushman & Wakefield LLP and Hurleypalmerflatt, considered factors that are likely to affect successful data center operations. Canada got high scores for its low energy costs, political stability, bandwidth and ease of doing business. Factors such as cost of labor and inflation risks, while still favorable, scored lower.
Since Quebec is much cooler than the rest of North America, it's an attractive place for data center development that could substantially lower operating costs while increasing energy efficiency.
"What we like to say in the province of Quebec is that electricity is cheap and green, and power distribution is good, in terms of the impact on the data center," says Patrick David, president of Groupe Datareal, a real estate company specializing in complete data centers. "Basically, you don't have downtime due to lack of quality in the distribution network."
In addition, Schutter points out, Canada uses less oil and more natural gas than many developed nations. While gas is still a fossil fuel, it's the cleanest fossil fuel, he says.
When considering Canada as a place to base your next data center, The Green Grid recommends that organizations consider the "geographic relationship to business requirements" to determine if it's the right business choice for your organization. This means investigating your customer market, network access, the technical labor market, the distance from current business locations, air transport and maintenance providers, to name but a few factors.
Canada's climate, political history and economic growth might be good reasons to put a data center there-but doing so means nothing if that's not where your business needs to be. However, if you do need to expand, the industry leaders interviewed for this article give no indication that you shouldn't consider locating a data center north of the border if that's where your customers are.
CloudFlare, a California-based cloud service provider focused on website security and performance, recently launched nine data centers in a 30-day period. One is in Toronto.
Cloudfare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince says the company routes traffic for hundreds of thousands of customers and constantly monitors the paths in the network between people who are visiting customer websites and its 23 data centers. (When traffic is up, of course, there is always a need for additional facilities.)
After a usage analysis, Cloudfare noticed it had a large number of users in Canada. Most were served from the company's Chicago data center, Prince says. With the addition of the Toronto facility, he says, CloudFlare can now route Canadian customers to those servers, saving milliseconds of load and wait times to on customers' websites.
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