This is the 2nd article in a 3 part series I started last week about “Why Chicago is Perfect for Data Centers.” In the first article I addressed the advantages Chicago has because of its location, with being away from natural disasters, centrally located, the availability of cheap water, and much more. This week, I’ll be covering Chicago’s infrastructure and why that is perfect for data centers and next week I’ll be finishing up the series with an article about the people of Chicago. In politics, James Carville helped coin the phrase, "it's the economy, stupid" while in building data centers, it is all about the infrastructure.
The thing I must cover first and foremost is the extremely stable and reliable power infrastructure of Chicago. The power infrastructure for downtown Chicago is almost entirely underground, keeping it away from the wind, snow, elements, and prying eyes. Transformers, power lines, and even some entire substations are underground and protected from the elements. Not only is the system reliable at the last mile, it has also proven to be extremely reliable at the core, with no widespread outages in the Central Business District in decades. Looking at facilities around the country I hear of common (every couple months) brownouts or even blackouts, with major power infrastructure issues in the Northeast, California, and now developing in Texas. While it may be an issue elsewhere, Chicago has very stable power. This reliable power is also available at pricing below the national average making Chicago power a great value.
The second major infrastructure component people look for with data centers is access to fiber optic cable to connect to the rest of the world. I already addressed it briefly in the first article, but the majority of transcontinental fiber goes through the Chicago region. Local fiber rings in Chicago are also made easier by the right of ways provided by the Chicago ‘L’ System and underground infrastructure provided by the above electrical system and tunnel systems. This availability of long haul fiber combined with a very competitive local market, with over one hundred networks available, gives Chicago a very robust connectivity marketplace. Add into the mix that Chicago has one of the largest peering exchanges in the country (Equinix Chicago) and Chicago is one of the top 5 cities in the country as far as overall connectivity. This competitive marketplace gives you great pricing and a lot of options, while the location on the long haul fiber also gives you low latency, globally.
Finally, Chicago also has the transportation infrastructure necessary to support global data center operations. With one of the busiest airports in the world, O’Hare, and two other International Airports in the area (Midway and Gary/Chicago) there are tens of millions of passengers going through Chicago. There is also an extensive public transit system with the local CTA providing buses and a subway/elevated train system (The ‘L’) for almost 2 million daily passengers. You can also use the regional Metra train system or the Amtrak hub at Union Station. The city also now has the Divvy bike-sharing program, making transportation in the city even easier.
Overall, this gives Chicago a great infrastructure for supporting data centers, but just a small sampling of the many reasons why we’ve chosen to make Chicago our home!
Join us here in Chicago! We'd be happy to sell you data center colocation, dedicated servers, or cloud hosting services out of our Chicago data centers! Otherwise, if you just happen to be in town, contact us to schedule a tour and we'd be happy to show you around.