The physical location of a data centre is crucial to its security, according to John Noakes, director of product marketing & partners for cloud firm Attenda.
Noakes was speaking as part of the ‘Insights into the data centre of the future’ panel at Computing’s Data Centre Summit 2013.

“PUE (power usage effectiveness) isn’t the whole answer, it’s an important part, but not all of it.

The key thing for a data centre is location, location, location,” he told the audience at London Hilton Tower Bridge.
Attenda data centres are on land owned by defence contractor QuinetQ, which is based near Farnborough, and it’s no coincidence that their servers are stored in buildings that are protected by military-grade security measures.
Indeed, Noakes described going to the secure Ministry of Defence related facility as “absolutely paramount” for security and argued that how a data centre is managed and the reputation of the company that manages it is going to become as important, if not more so, for customers as the service it provides.
“We pride ourselves on the service we offer and the future of the data centre is as much about the organisation that runs it as it is the service offered,” he said.
Steve Watt, CIO at the University of St Andrews, agreed with Noakes about the importance of data centre location, but for other factors in addition to security.
Watt argued that location can be a big factor in cooling, stating that for the University of St Andrews its location on the Scottish coast means the colder climate can help maintain its data centres at an optimum temperature.
However, according to Facebook vice president of hardware design and supply chain Frank Frankovsky, very new data centres actually require cooling.
“There’s very few parts of the world that require you to run air conditioning,” he recently told Computing.
“Large data centre operators typically follow Ashrae standards, and so they’re afraid to push those boundaries, [but] computing equipment is pretty resilient to heat – it’s actually even pretty resilient to humidity, and even condensation, believe it or not.”

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