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Why putting your data center in Canada makes sense

Vangie Beal | Oct. 9, 2012
With its cool climate, low risk rating and skilled labor force, Canada seems like a great spot to build a new data center. If that's where your customers are, experts say, there's no reason not to expand north of the border. Otherwise, think twice.

"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."

For the country as a whole, David cites four key drivers for the Canadian data center industry: the cost of electricity, the general reliability of electricity providers, the abundance of hydroelectricity-Canada is the world's-third largest generator of hydroelectric power-and the potential to take advantage of free cooling.

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.

If Your Customers Are in Canada, Your Data Center Should Be, Too

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.

Case Study: Data Centers Go Underground

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.

Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of CloudFlare, which has equipped 23 data centers, many in facilities previously used by telecom providers, in just three years.

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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