Data Centers and Texas, Part Il: The Perfect Match

November 07, 2019 by Midlothian Economic Development

why-texas-is-tops-for-data-centers-part-ll

Following Part l of our dive into the optimal features and conditions that make Texas the perfect home for data centers, there is still more to unpack when it comes to this match. 

There is a lot to consider when deciding where to start your data footprint: 

  • How is the reliability of the data center ensured? 
  • Where is the safest yet smartest location? 
  • What measures is the state taking to support the economic growth data centers need?   

Below, we get into additional Texas facts that will help shed some light on why the Lone Star State is the center of it all:

Geographic Location

There are two layers to why the geographic location of Texas makes it perfect for data centers: its optimal physical location within the U.S. and its mild climate. 

While an increasing amount of company headquarters are located in Texas, specifically the Dallas-Fort Worth area, many companies under which a center operates as well as connecting offices are scattered around the country. Thanks to Texas’ Central Time Zone, there is no three-hour difference for East or West Coast companies to compete with. This is critical when it comes to reliable and efficient communication between the two entities. 

With data centers containing large amounts of expensive technology that need to be powered to process critical information, the weather and climate in the center’s location are also paramount. Texas hits a home run in this arena with its mild climate and year-round reliable weather. Specifically, in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, there is a lower risk of flooding and minimal, if at all, amounts of snow in the winter. As well, no earthquakes of 3.5 magnitude or above have occurred in or near Dallas. While the region can experience tornadoes and hurricanes, it is rarely severe and centers can take precautionary steps when building to ensure maximum protection. 

While not completely free of natural weather conditions, Texas still permits favorable conditions for data centers. Both buildings and the power supply are at a lower risk from weather damage. There are also few instances where necessary personnel are unable to go to work due to weather conditions. All this added up creates a location that companies can trust to be safe and reliable for both their centers and employees. 

ERCOT

In Part l, we discussed how the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) provides a reliable power supply for companies in Texas. 

To further explain the importance of that, ERCOT is a power grid. This is notable because there are only three grids that make up the United State’s network: the Eastern Grid, Western Grid, and Texas Grid. Texas is the only state with its own power grid. 

The ERCOT grid controls 90% of Texas’s power load. This allows Texas to have power independence and create its own rates, incentives, and laws apart from federal control. This lends for lower power costs for data centers as well as less cumbersome and technical regulations.

University Research Initiative

Enacted in 2015, the Governor’s University Research Initiative (GURI) awards grants each year to Texas’s public institutions of higher education. The goal of this initiative is to bolster the standing of Texas public colleges and universities as well as the economic development efforts statewide — the main of which is bringing in more tech-based companies. This is done by incorporating distinguished researchers from around the world into the faculty of Texas’s top schools. 

In June 2018, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the University of Texas at Arlington as the recipient of the grant awards. As a result, the university was able to recruit Dr. Schafrik, a pioneer researcher in the fields of material sciences and engineering — two areas that are critical to the advancement of data centers. 

By actively drawing in highly sought-after talent in related fields, Texas is supporting tech economic growth and is taking steps to ensure students can enhance their skillset to fill needed data center roles

In Gov. Abbott’s own words, “Texas has long been a leader in the fields of science and engineering, and the additions of Dr. Schafrik ... will further advance our state's reputation. I have no doubt that these universities will benefit enormously from their invaluable experience and further elevate their national research standings. These grants represent our strong commitment to excellence in higher education, to a more educated workforce, and to an even stronger economy."

Hitting the Mark for Data Centers

One look at the prime location along with the positive steps Texas is taking towards creating a skilled and bustling business environment — especially among data centers — and it’s easy to see why Google chose to locate its new data center in Midlothian.

Perfection can’t always be found, but Texas doesn’t seem to stop hitting the bullseye for building the optimal foundation for data centers. 

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