If you\u2019re facing a data center relocation, one of the most important decisions you\u2019ll be making is site selection. This is true whether you\u2019re considering collocation space or building your own facility.\u00a0 Either way, site selection will have the biggest impact on your implementation schedule, your data center\u2019s reliability and its lifecycle costs.\u00a0Perhaps your eye was caught by Google\u2019s floating data center concept, a design recognized by Time as one of the best inventions of 2008. Google imagined (and patented) a data center on a raft, with electricity generated by wind turbines and wave power, and the ocean waters cooling the servers.\u00a0 And, of course, there\u2019s no landlord on the high seas. Sounds nice. But before we can fully endorse the Google floating data center notion, let\u2019s take a closer look at some of the issues this data-center-on-a-boat raises for site selection.For a data center with Tier-III class redundancy (the Uptime Institute\u2019s designation for centers that are \u201cconcurrently maintainable while in service\u201d), here are some of the factors we need to take into account:\u00a0Power Density \u2013 What type of systems do you expect to house in the new facility?\u00a0 If you\u2019re expecting to support high density systems (like blade servers requiring 10kW per rack or more), how much room will you need? And if you\u2019re planning to move into an area that only supports 150 W\/SF, you will need to space out your racks accordingly\u00a0 (for proper airflow), increasing the amount of raised floor space you thought you needed by a factor of 4. \u00a0 Power Availability \u2013 Is there sufficient power available in the grid to supply the site? If not, be prepared to foot the bill for power company infrastructure upgrades which may take 18-24 months to complete.\u00a0Power Redundancy \u2013 Is the space serviced by a redundant substation with independent power feeds to your location (or maybe even multiple substations)?\u00a0 You want that unless you\u2019re prepared to deal with downtime.\u00a0Power Backup \u2013 If you\u2019re looking at an existing facility, you have to ask if it has backup power to cover the center\u2019s full load. It\u2019s also wise to find out if there\u2019s a clear plan in place to increase capacity as you grow. If you\u2019re looking at a new facility, you have to find out if there\u2019s sufficient space for backup power generators and their fuel storage tanks.\u00a0 And are there any zoning issues which may cause delays or add to your costs when you try to install these backup systems?\u00a0Cooling \u2013 Is there sufficient cooling capacity to maintain a proper operating temperature in the facility even when it\u2019s operating on backup power?\u00a0 Is there sufficient floor to ceiling clearance to allow for adequate cool air supply and the removal of hot air exhaust?\u00a0 Quick test: If you\u2019re moving into a facility with 200 W \/ SQ ft. capacity, are there at least 36-inches of raised floor space to assure adequate airflow for system cooling?\u00a0 If you\u2019re planning on 400 W\/SQ FT? Look for a floor raised 4 feet or more.\u00a0 Lack of sufficient height is one of several reasons why conventional office space is suboptimal for anything more than 100W \/ SQ ft. \u00a0Network Access \u2013 Ideally there should be multiple WAN providers capable of serving your facility, each with redundant fiber \/ network connections.\u00a0 This will assure long term competition on price and an alternative if one provider\u2019s price or service levels become an issue. \u00a0Geographic Considerations \u2013 Are you planning on putting your data center someplace where earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis or floods occur from time to time?\u00a0 I wouldn\u2019t. Will planes fly over it making their approach to a nearby airport? I\u2019d think about that. Will it be easy to deliver replacement parts and get professionals there for needed repairs or maintenance? Is the location safe from terrorism or desperate profiteers like Somali pirates? \u00a0Perhaps the most costly and avoidable mistake I see companies make is deciding to use a space \u201cbecause we have it.\u201d \u00a0Unless you get extremely lucky, it\u2019s highly unlikely that the spare space you have will be suitable for your data center. More likely is that you\u2019ll be paying for it over and over again through costly retrofits, increased infrastructure costs and much higher operating expenses than would otherwise be necessary.\u00a0 Fact is, even \u201cfree\u201d real estate quickly can become a very costly proposition for a new data center.\u00a0 Anyway, as real estate represents a very small portion of data center costs,it should not be a primary driver in your decision.\u00a0Google\u2019s Floating Data CenterSo how well does Google\u2019s floating data center match up to these requirements?\u00a0 It certainly offers an abundance of energy \u2013 provided you\u2019re comfortable with harnessing and depending upon the waves, the tides, the sun and winds.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 \u00a0Ocean water indeed can be used to cool the servers through the use of seawater \/ fresh water heat exchangers, which in turn will cool the air. Of course, the environment better be airtight unless you think salty air is good for servers. (It\u2019s not, by the way.)\u00a0 While the floating data center does offer the promise of cheap real estate, it does so at the expense of increased complexity and risk.\u00a0 Security is on the ocean is\u2014shall we say\u2014problematic.\u00a0Exposure to disaster is high.\u00a0 Access to multi-WAN providers\u00a0 . . . Who knows? \u00a0I\u2019m not suggesting Google was entirely serious with its water-based data center patent, but it certainly won\u2019t help organizations that face data center deficiencies today.\u00a0 Perhaps this is part of Google\u2019s secret strategy to scale up its App Engine \/ Cloud Computing service. If so, good luck, guys!\u00a0Nonetheless, Google\u2019s floating data center model has raised awareness about the very real and growing problem of increasing data center power and cooling demands. It also provides an excellent way to focus one\u2019s thoughts on what data center site selection really requires and, more importantly, what potential problems could rise from the depths to bite you where you don\u2019t want to get bitten. As always, thank you for sending comments, tips and topic suggestions to me at CIOblog@TransitionalData.com._________________________________Michael Bullock is the founder and CEO of Transitional Data Services (TDS), a consulting firm helping clients implement energy saving green data center solutions, data center relocations, web based enterprise applications and 24\/7 technical operations.