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Facebook, Myspace, Microsoft, Apple, and Google are among the top firms competing in a race for the limited amount of U.S. server space.  (Source: Data Center Knowledge)
California, North Carolina, and Virginia are among the parts of the nation experiencing the strongest demand

Many aspects of our modern digital life -- smartphones, Wi-Fi internet, internet-connected cable TVs, and "smart" schools -- are often taken for granted.  However, behind the scenes there's a massive amount of work required to secure hardware for transmission to these devices and obtain sufficient computing power at data centers to process the incoming and outgoing traffic.

Except to the most hardcore of information technology administrators, rows of servers don't seem very stylish or chic -- unlike the sleek devices like iPhones and Android smartphones which they support.  And their appeal was lessened when the Dot Com Bubble burst in 2000 trashing personal investment accounts.  The problem at the time was relatively simple, yet few could see it -- there was immense infrastructure investment, but there just wasn't the demand from internet customers to warrant it yet.

Now a decade removed from that cold hard lesson in economics, firms that deal with internet connected devices and web software are facing the opposite challenge.  The demand from customers is soaring to all time highs, but they don't have the infrastructure to sufficiently support it.

Three of the nation's hottest markets in the demand for data centers are California's Silicon Valley, Virginia (which borders the super-connected Washington, D.C.), and North Carolina.  Facebook, the world's largest social network, just snatched up a bunch of newly constructed data center space in Santa Clara, California and Ashburn, Virginia.  The company is riding on a wave of lucrative monetization and soaring user counts; its 30,000 servers as of October 2009 are merely not enough as it has added 100 million users in the last seven months.

Facebook isn't the only high profile shopper though to go hunting for data center space, though.  Apple is building a $1B USD server farm in Maiden, which is located in North Carolina's Catawba County.  The farm will help support the hosting demands of Apple's hot iPhone and iPad App Store service and iTunes service.

And one can only assume that Google, which has an ever-expanding flow of web traffic (including now a massive amount of traffic from Android devices), is also stocking up on data space.

Wild demand has transformed these drab buildings populated by racks of blinking servers  from the ugly ducklings of the tech sphere into rock stars of the tech world.  The big concern now is that there are only 
so many builders of server space and they are having trouble keeping up with demand and decided where to focus their data center construction efforts.

Companies such as DuPont Fabros and Terremark have been scaling back their construction efforts in California and jumping to Virginia, where lucrative tax breaks (thanks to demand in Washington, D.C.) await.  Network Operation Center (NOC) Equinix warns that that this could spell trouble for West Coast giants like Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google.  Predicts the firm, "It’s too early to say with certainty that these delays will lead to space shortages in Silicon Valley. But they set the stage for a tight supply-demand scenario in which landlords with space will have significant leverage."

The good news is that while there may be supply shortages, the wild growth should help to create new information technology jobs, filling gaps in the recovery U.S. economy.  For that reason alone, the traditionally boring server is becoming an exciting object of beauty.

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Try Alaska
By mlmiller1 on 5/26/2010 3:40:11 PM , Rating: 3
Use the ocean to cool the servers. Use the abundant natural gas to drive generators. Just need a lot of fiber up there.

RE: Try Alaska
By Murloc on 5/26/2010 3:49:29 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, right.
Do you think that in ocean water there's just water? salt alone is enough to clutter any tube.

RE: Try Alaska
By Briliu on 5/26/2010 4:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
Do you think to cool something with the ocean you have to run ocean water through tubes?

You could run tubes through the ocean!

RE: Try Alaska
By PAPutzback on 5/26/2010 4:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
That is an idea, let's warm up the ocean water.

RE: Try Alaska
By surt on 5/26/2010 7:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
Even a nuclear power plant barely puts a dent in regional water temperatures. The oceans are BIG.

RE: Try Alaska
By bodar on 5/27/2010 8:25:09 AM , Rating: 2
Never heard of SWAC I take it? It's currently running (small-scale) in Hawaii and a few other places.

Even better
By morphologia on 5/26/2010 4:58:26 PM , Rating: 2
The heck with Alaska...try orbit. An orbital datacenter plus an extensive satellite network, cheap server cooling (it's dang cold up there) and good access to raw solar energy (practically no atmosphere). Of course, maintenance would be pricey...

RE: Even better
By HostileEffect on 5/26/2010 5:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
And how do you propose to cool this data center?

The only known method to cool anything off in space is letting it radiate off and that will not work until we have ultra efficient computers.

RE: Even better
By retrospooty on 5/26/2010 8:18:21 PM , Rating: 2
"The heck with Alaska...try orbit. An orbital datacenter plus an extensive satellite network,"

Isn't that how Skynet got started?

hell no!

RE: Even better
By fuzzlefizz on 5/26/2010 9:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
Until it gets shot down by China or USA for thinking it's a rogue satellite

RE: Even better
By Bateluer on 5/27/2010 5:55:25 AM , Rating: 2
Cooling wouldn't work at all. Because there's no atmosphere, there's no molecules to carry away the heat. Parts generating heat exposed to the vacuum would overheat in seconds. NASA wiped out a very expensive orbiter due to this factor.

RE: Even better
By corduroygt on 5/27/2010 8:23:56 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention that in space, bits in semiconductors are more likely to be flipped by cosmic radiation, requiring more resillient (and therefore not as fast or cheap) chips. More than one bit is likely to be flipped as transistors get smaller too, for which ECC is useless.

This makes a difference even when comparing Denver vs. sea level.

By Homerboy on 5/26/2010 5:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
Where is the information for this article coming from?
I've been involved (on varying levels) in this industry for over 10 years now. If anything, as we speak, there is tons of space available across the country abd more and more space opening up all the time.

Locations in CA are starting to dwindle, but that is due to the fact it is too expensive to build, power is questionable and fear of a earthquake is high. Placs like Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Salt Lake are BOOMING with space and build outs.

The worry of being "well connected" is pretty much all but vanished as bandwidth prices have gone through the floor and pretty much are bought as commodities in today's market. 10GigE connection is "dirt cheep" compare to even 5 years ago, and redundancy is everywhere as dark fiber too is being sold at cut-throat prices.

Honestly, I see no overall space-crunch at the current time.

RE: What?
By Runiteshark on 5/26/2010 7:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
As someone in the industry as well, I agree. My own company is building out yet another DC in Phoenix, and deploying more cabinets all over the place, prices don't seem to vary too much, and we haven't had issues with colo's saying they don't have space.

RE: What?
By iFX on 5/26/2010 10:07:51 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree as well. When DT tries to do IT articles it generally falls on its face with stone cold regularity. I also work in the industry and specifically the SAN industry.

Let me put it this way - there is as much space and servers available as there is money to buy them. Period. This article is amusing.

RE: What?
By Homerboy on 5/27/2010 11:01:26 AM , Rating: 2
What is funny is the ONE quote (and therefor one bit of "fact" they utilize) basically negates their headline:

It’s too early to say with certainty that these delays will lead to space shortages in Silicon Valley. But they set the stage for a tight supply-demand scenario in which landlords with space will have significant leverage."

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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