It’s no secret that Oregon is the home to clouds, with the western part of the state getting more than it’s fair share of rain. Now a different kind of clouds are moving in–cloud computing–a broad term to describe a trend in the computer industry of large data centers, or server farms.
When you Google search for “data center” your request goes up to the clouds, or in more concrete terms, is processed elsewhere, namely in one of Google’s many data centers, which house perhaps 500,000 servers in total. And there’s a fair chance that your request was routed through The Dalles, Oregon, then back to you. All at rates close to the speed of light.
The Oregon cities of Prineville, The Dalles, and Boardman are homes to data centers for some of high tech’s most recognized names: Facebook, Google and Amazon.com, who have chosen this area for it’s cheap land and cheap electricity. Washington State is also seeing a surge in these types of facilities, hosting companies as prominent as: Microsoft, Yahoo, Intuit, Ask.com and Sabey.
Industrial land in Central and Eastern Oregon ranges between $1.50 and $3.50 per square foot, compared to $3.50-$5.50 in Eugene. In San Jose, CA, Industrial dirt can go for $25/s.f and up. So, the dirt could be 10 Mm cheaper on a 10 acre parcel. The price paid for electricity is speculated to be about ½ of the market rate, perhaps some 1/4 million dollars per megawatt per year. This can translate into savings of 10 Mm dollars per year on a large server farm. Ten million here, 10 million there starts to add up.
In Oregon, nearly ½ billion square feet of structures will be built for these server farms, which is a welcomed boost to our economy. Cheap power, cheap land, and a favorable climate–the makings for success in the new information age.