Amazon's New Data Center Could Save You Money

With Oregon data center, Amazon Web Services gives West Coast infrastructure-as-a-service customers a 10% price break.
Slideshow: Amazon's Case For Enterprise Cloud Computing
Slideshow: Amazon's Case For Enterprise Cloud Computing
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Amazon Web Services' West Coast customers now have a chance to use infrastructure as a service on par with those on the East Coast. Amazon has added its seventh cloud data center to its lineup, part of a worldwide expansion of data center capacity.

West Coast customers who didn't want the latency of sending data and workloads across the country to Northern Virginia paid a premium to use the Amazon EC2 cloud data center in the Silicon Valley. By shifting to a newly opened facility in Boardman, Ore., they'll get a 10% price reduction. That's in large part due to the low-cost hydroelectric power available at locations like Boardman along the Columbia River.

Amazon's US East-1 data center complex in Northern Virginia charges 8.5 cents an hour for a basic Linux server and 12 cents an hour for a Windows Server. Those same rates will apply to Amazon's second West Coast facility. In addition to cheap hydro power, the Boardman location, 80 miles east of Portland, offers a plentiful supply of cooling water.

Modern data centers install a minimum of air conditioning and often use some form of evaporation to cool outside air circulated through the data center. They are constructed so that two rows of servers siphon the warm air coming off of servers into a hot aisle, where it is collected and pushed out of the building by powerful fans. The temperature in the hot aisle might be 95-100 degrees.

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Amazon halted construction of its Boardman facility in 2009 as the economy worsened, but resumed work and finished equipping the center earlier this year. It was started up in early October and by Nov. 9, Amazon Web Services began offering the services that make up its standard infrastructure as a service: the EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple Storage Service, Simple Database Service, Amazon Simple Queue Service, and others.

Data centers have become a growth industry in Oregon. Google kicked off the trend by building a large data center along the Columbia at The Dalles, a town of 12,500 on a scenic part of the river, five years ago. Microsoft and Yahoo both built data centers at different points on the opposite side of the river in Washington State.

Facebook choose Oregon's high desert country in the center of the state where nights are cool even in the summer to build a model data center. Its Prineville, Ore., facility sits 100 miles east of Eugene, and became the basis for Facebook's claim in April to be running a highly efficient data center to power its online applications used by millions. Facebook published the details of its server architecture in its Open Compute Project as a sign of its commitment to the creation of more efficient data centers.

Three unnamed companies are currently in the central Oregon region scouting possible locations for data center projects codenamed Maverick, Cloud, and Jasper, according to the Oregonian newspaper.

Other companies are following Intel's example of building a data center in Hillsboro, a community outside Portland. Fortune Data Centers plans a 240,000 square foot facility there. Digital Realty Trust will build a 55,000 square foot facility there for NetApp next year, and Adobe Systems plans a 75,000 square foot facility in 2012. Fortune and Digital Realty Trust are builders and operators of wholesale and colocation data center space in which the customer places his own equipment.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini at Dell World in Austin, Texas, Oct. 14 said Intel estimated that data center construction represents a $450 billion a year expenditure, "one of the more significant capital investments underway around the world."

Twitter has used NTT Americas data center space in the Silicon Valley to host its online service but will head next year for expanded space in the C7 Data Centers' facility being built in Salt Lake City. It will also use space in the Quality Technology Services' Metro Technology Center in Atlanta. C7 and Quality Technology Services are colocation and hosted services suppliers.

Since completing its Prineville facility, Facebook has followed Amazon's example and announced it will build its next data center on the East Coast near Forest City, N.C., where Apple and Google already operate data centers.

Major Web companies and cloud service providers like to be located as close as possible to large groups of customers on each coast. Being in closer proximity to customers cuts the inherent latencies in electronic services when data transmissions and user interactions must travel from coast to coast.

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