Hint – it’s probably not what you’d guess..

As Canadian technical prowess and infrastructure grows, more large companies are looking to the Great White North as a prospective host for data center relocation. Although one might be tempted to think this is nothing more than happenstance, there is a much simpler, logical explanation for why server-related companies like web hosts would want their data centers to be located here. That answer revolves around a simple concept – it stays really cold there for much of the year!

Here’s, for example, the difference in average temperatures in Calgary, Alberta, and Phoenix, Arizona, based on monthly figures from climate-data.org. What on earth does that have to do with data centers, though?

Data Center Energy Consumption

Using data centers is necessary to store software and other relevant components of the computer systems that companies rely on. The problem, however, is the mind-boggling consumption of energy that these centers use. In 2013, for instance, the United States singlehandedly guzzled 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Such a high amount of electricity ensures two things – a lot of energy is wasted and rising temperatures within the buildings, courtesy of all that power, have to be moderated.

Isaac Newton once observed that everything that goes up must come down. The same rule applies to the rising temperatures in the data centers. To address this problem, companies typically build expensive cooling systems that regulate the temperature of their servers. Failing to do so could lead to not only data loss but fire hazards and enormous liability. Unfortunately, building these systems is quite expensive and consumes a lot of time and resources that large businesses would prefer to conserve. Enter Canada!

Naturally Cold Countries

When one thinks about northern Sweden, which is just 70 miles south of the Arctic Circle, there may not be a lot of obvious incentive to visit. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, thought otherwise. In fact, that is where he placed his company’s data center a few years ago. Why? Because the temperatures are so low that a portion of the server cooling can be done by simply relying on the natural state of the environment. Although Facebook still protected its multi-billion dollar social media empire with state-of-the-art cooling systems, taking advantage of cold weather helped minimize these costs.

This is the exact scenario happening in Canada. Besides being one of the most intriguing countries (how about that colorful money), it is further known for brutal winters and mild summers. In addition to that, the majority of the workforce that is eligible for hire already speaks English on a first-language basis. This is relevant because most companies that place their data centers in Canada are headquartered in English-speaking countries. Thus, finding eligible employees to oversee their servers is much easier and skips the necessity of operating through translators.

Cheaper, Not Free

Even though Canada’s weather provides a cheap way to regulate rising temperatures in data centers, it’s not a completely free ride. These are, after all, very sophisticated systems and one cannot simply open the doors and windows and hope to reduce the overall temperature of the building. On the contrary, they must still invest in the so-called “economizers.” These devices are used to cool down the water or glycol that is subsequently sent to all the servers. This is how servers are slowly brought down to normal temperatures by taking advantage of the outside weather conditions.

Other Benefits

Of course, if the main priority was only to find regions with low temperatures, most companies would not have to look much further than the United States. Alaska is, after all, colder than much of Canada. The reason why specific locations are used boils down to other benefits as well. For example, Sweden, Canada, Finland, and other popular alternatives for data center locations are all stable countries. Meaning, they provide a firm political system without major controversies that negatively impact businesses. Just looking at the recent wave of tariffs that have been put in place in the United States helps to understand why businesses do not choose any of the fifty states for their data centers. Sorry Alaska.

In addition, Canada provides companies that invest with notable tax breaks. Thus, there are multiple reasons that explain why the Great White North is becoming the epicenter for companies’ data centers. The bottom line, however, goes back to the low temperatures that help organizations reduce a substantial portion of their costs.

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