Summary:

You might think that after two 100-year storms in two years, New York businesses would want to put new data center capacity far, far away. But new research says you would be wrong.

This is surprising — at least to me. Despite the angst that superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene caused data center providers and their customers in the New York metro area over the last two years, businesses still want to expand their data center capacity in that low-lying, suddenly storm-surge-prone area.

Lobby at Verizon office at 140 West Street, New York post-Sandy

Lobby at Verizon office at 140 West Street, New York post-Sandy

According to a new survey for data center service provider Digital Realty Trust, 65 percent of the 148 companies surveyed that definitely plan to expand their data centers want to do so in New York City or its environs. This flies in the face of speculation that big New York companies would put more of their new data center firepower far from the coast. (GigaOM’s Jordan Novet has more on the research here.)

Financial services companies and exchanges clustered in New York obviously need some compute power nearby to reduce latency on trades, but data center experts said those capabilities could be parcelled out judiciously to local data centers while most of the other heavy lifting could be shipped off to facilities far from the coastal flood plain.

According to the new research:

“The majority of respondents who definitely plan to expand in 2013 would prefer to locate a new or expanded data center in New York City (65%); Los Angeles (47%), Dallas (36%), Chicago (31%), San Francisco (30%) and Phoenix (28%) are other U.S. cities mentioned often.”

drtchart

Other highlights:

  • Security was cited as the most important factor on decisions about location.
  • Folks tend to opt for a site close to their current work location. 69 percent choose their home city as one of their expanded data center locations.

Of course, when two 100-year storms hit the same area within two years of each other, you might start evaluating new locations and then the question becomes what areas are not susceptible to natural disasters. But, as Chris Perretta, CIO and EVP of State Street told GigaOM last year: “In the Midwest you get tornadoes, on the coast you get surge, in Florida you get hurricanes, in the west you get wild fires, in California you get earthquakes.” Finding safe harbor is not easy.

Given that, maybe these findings are not such a surprise after all.

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