Looking for a data centre? Consider geography

October 24, 2016 Vawn Himmelsbach

Find a safe place to store your business data.

data center geography

If your business is reliant on data — and for most businesses these days, that’s the case — then you might want to consider keeping your data safe and secure at an offsite location.

If you’re a smaller business, building your own data centre probably isn’t feasible from a financial point of view. Nor is it necessary these days, with cloud-based options and the ability to co-locate in a third-party data centre.

Why consider a third-party data centre?

So when should you consider leasing out space in an existing data centre? If you have potential security vulnerabilities at your headquarters (say, you’re based in a plant with highly explosive materials), are underserved by utility providers carriers or maybe don’t have the most robust Internet coverage, then co-location could be for you.

MTS data centres facility

A third-party data centre is operated by specialized staff who ensure your IT infrastructure is highly available, in a highly secure environment. This allows you to focus on your core business, rather than worrying about the security and reliability of your IT infrastructure.

Moving your data off-premises frees up resources and sets you up for growth (by allowing for flexibility and scalability). The bigger decision, then, is deciding where to put that data — and there are a number of factors to consider, not the least of which is geography.

Where should you store your data?

Depending on your type of business, you may be legally required to store your data in Canada. Thanks to the U.S. Patriot Act, the U.S. government could access your corporate data if it’s stored on U.S. soil, and that could infringe on the privacy of your Canadian customers, partners and suppliers.

Winnipeg MTS Data Centres

Also look for industry-recognized certifications and regulatory compliance such as Uptime Institute’s Tier Classifications and CSAE 3416/SOC for internal controls. And look for redundant and reliable power to ensure uptime availability, as well as 24/7 security and network operation centre staff (ideally within a carrier-neutral facility).

Data should also be safely stowed in a ‘safe’ zone. “Data centres should be away from high-risk environmental hazards — for instance, away from areas prone to earthquakes, overland flooding and rail lines where hazardous materials are transported,” said Rahul Sharma, Marketing Manager with MTS Data Centres.

Avoid data centres located in urban cores, which could be disrupted by events, protests, pedestrian and vehicular traffic. And avoid data centres in shared office space or buildings. In these cases, “the data centre operators have less control on what neighbouring businesses do in their offices and that could be risky for their data centre customers,” said Sharma.

Why Winnipeg, in the centre Canada, is a safe zone for your business data

Aside from meeting regulatory and compliance requirements, Canada offers several advantages for co-location. According to Cushman & Wakefield’s Data Centre Risk Index Report 2016, Canada ranks No. 1 in the Americas and No. 6 globally in terms of providing an ideal environment for data centres, only closely behind its European and Scandinavian counterparts. The United States ranked 10th on the same list.

MTS Data Centres safe and secureAnd within Canada, Winnipeg has emerged as an ideal environment for data centres since it’s located within a safe zone (and, as an added bonus, has low operating costs). With its location deep in the interior of North America, natural disasters related to geological factors — such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions — are pretty much non-existent, according to data from business development organization Yes! Winnipeg.

Winnipeg is also protected against a one-in-700-year flood, thanks to the Red River Floodway that was recently expanded, according to Yes! Winnipeg, and has the lowest risk in the North American mid-west for severe weather, including tornados.

Aside from being in a safe zone, Winnipeg has some of the lowest operating costs for business in North America. All major east-west fibre routes across Canada pass through the city, and redundant, carrier-diverse fibre optic networks are readily available for data centre operations. And it’s serviced by major telcos, making full redundancy easier to achieve.

If you’re looking to stow your data off-site, co-location could be for you — but take geography into account during the decision-making process, since a safe zone is key to keeping your data safe.

All images are of the MTS Data Centres located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. MTS Data Centres provides more information and technical details on data centre services if you're looking to learn more for your business needs.

About the Author

Vawn Himmelsbach

Vawn Himmelsbach is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. She has covered technology and travel for 15 years, for media outlets such as CBCNews.ca, The Globe & Mail, Metro News, ITBusiness, PCworld Canada and Computerworld Canada. She also spent three years living abroad and working as an Asian correspondent.

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