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The value of geographically diverse data centers

As organizations continue to demand rapid data delivery and unfaltering reliability to operate their businesses and deliver services to their customers, the data center—and its physical location—becomes increasingly essential. Deploying geographically diverse sites can enable a powerful IT strategy that supports availability, low-latency data delivery, and seamless scalability to optimize operations.

05 / 24 / 2023
4 minute read
Priority Ambulance

What is geographic diversity?

In the data center context, geographic diversity—frequently called geo-diversity—refers to the physical distance between data centers. While this distance can introduce a series of benefits, exactly how close the facilities should be to one another depends on the organization’s business objectives. This may include supporting a new corporate headquarters, implementing a disaster recovery (DR) plan, or supporting an expanding customer base.

Why is data center geo-diversity important?  

In a digital business environment, success is largely reliant on the availability, speed, and flexibility of the business’s IT infrastructure. Geographically diverse data centers can support an organization’s IT strategy and business capabilities by minimizing latency, supporting resiliency, and enabling scalability.

Minimize latency

The speed at which data is delivered to end users can be business-critical. Deploying a data center location near a corporate headquarters, a concentration of customers, or a traffic exchange point helps organizations reduce the time it takes for data to travel between the data center and its final destination.

By positioning workloads closer to end users, organizations limit latency. However, every organization has a unique latency tolerance. Some industries, such as healthcare, financial services, and e-commerce, have extremely low tolerances for data delivery delays. In healthcare, a delay can seriously threaten patient safety and well-being. Priority Ambulance, a 9-1-1 and interfacility ambulance services provider, utilizes strategically located data centers to ensure it can receive calls and dispatch potentially life-saving treatment quickly.

In financial services, latency can translate to millions of lost dollars, especially in the ultra-fast-paced trading market. Latency also has a significant effect on e-commerce as any lag in delivery, upload or payment processing speed can frustrate customers, prompting them to abandon a purchase, which impacts the company’s profitability.

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COVID-19 and the work-from-home scenario also play a role in the latency landscape. With end users living and working in more dispersed areas—rather than concentrated in major cities—organizations rely more heavily on edge data centers to promote rapid access to the applications and data their users need. This is particularly true as employees utilize real-time video conferencing and cloud-based applications such as Microsoft Office, Salesforce, and NetSuite to remain productive. Edge locations are also key to supporting non-work activities such as real-time gaming and media streaming across a more distributed population.

Facilitate disaster recovery  

Uptime is always a critical success factor in a digital environment. This makes a DR solution a best practice for every business. By utilizing physically distant data centers, organizations can ensure a local event, such as a hurricane or unavailable power source, cannot impact both locations. During a disaster, the organizations can fail over operations from the primary site to a geographically remote secondary site to protect data and continue operations. The distance between the facilities depends on the needs of the organization and should balance recovery and latency requirements.

Support growth

Every organization needs a plan to scale its operations into new regions to support new customer bases and corporate offices. Geo-diverse data centers can help them reach these new markets to continually build and strengthen the business.

How to choose a data center partner

To ensure a long-term partnership, organizations should consider several factors when selecting a data center provider to support their latency, DR, and growth requirements.

Where are their locations?

Organizations should look for a provider with a portfolio of geographically diverse data centers. This ensures access to additional locations to meet future demands.

Is there capacity for the future?

Space and power supply is increasingly limited in many core data center markets. Colocation providers with presences in high-growth secondary markets can deliver the resources needed to support future growth and latency expectations at the digital edge. Providers with land banks and secured power resources can also build new facilities to support future needs.

Is connectivity available between the facilities?

Secure, high-speed connections between geo-diverse facilities are non-negotiable. Providers that connect their facilities via a private network can improve communications and data security between the sites. Providers should also offer diverse connectivity options to enable organizations to connect with their preferred providers.

Can they offer support?

The “right” provider is more than available space, power, and cooling. Organizations should look for a data center partner with a strong customer focus and the expertise to help identify, define, and execute strategies across geo-diverse sites. This can include building a DR strategy or recommending additional services or locations to strengthen the IT solution and better serve internal and external customers.

Key takeaway

Data center providers must deliver more than a reliable IT environment. Providers with a national network of interconnected, geo-diverse facilities can help organizations build dynamic IT strategies that enable rapid data delivery and an always-available environment to promote business success and a competitive edge.

Learn how Priority Ambulance leveraged the Flexential portfolio of geographically diverse data centers to ensure the speed and availability of its systems during a high-growth period.

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