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How to choose a data center location for your business

Kirthi Kumar Devleker

Posted: April 21, 20234 min read

At DigitalOcean, we focus on the success of small and medium-sized technology businesses on our platform—from offering solutions that scale with your startup to providing a reliable cloud platform you can build on. We aim to take care of your infrastructure, so you can focus on providing a reliable experience to your customers. One factor in delivering fast and reliable experiences to your end-users is the location of your data center.

This article will cover how to evaluate the right location, the factors to consider when selecting a data center, and how to factor trade-offs into your decision.

1. Consider the geographic location of your end users

Pick a data center location geographically close to the end users who most frequently access your applications. This will improve the overall customer experience you provide to your customers by reducing the overall latency. Latency is the time it takes from when the user makes a request to when a response gets back to that same user.

Although the latency numbers may not seem significant, the effects are compounded because of the constant back-and-forth communication between your users and your application. Lower latency means reduced wait time and increased speed for your customers, as web pages will load more quickly. Minimizing your web application’s latency can also help improve SEO performance, making your website more visible in search results and generating more traffic from search.

Many tools, like Google Analytics, can help segment traffic to your application by geography, which can be a good starting point for identifying the location of your end users. Once you determine these high-traffic locations, you can spin up your application in a data center close to the region where the traffic originates.

2. Factor in network infrastructure and connectivity

Network Infrastructure and connectivity are important considerations when choosing a data center location, especially for interactive applications with high traffic volumes (e.g., live streaming, audio and video conferencing, VOIP, etc.). How a data center routes the traffic can help you understand the overall Quality of service (QoS) you can provide to your customers.

Choose a data center that routes customer data on a private global private network (if operated by the cloud provider) to provide your customers with a superior experience, compared to routing data over the public internet, which is inherently an unreliable channel. As the cloud provider manages the global private network infrastructure, they can continuously monitor the network’s overall health in a given data center. The provider can proactively take action to preempt any connectivity issues from disrupting their customer traffic or optimize the traffic routing based on the situation.

3. Evaluate the availability of high-performance hardware

When you choose a data center location, ensure that the data center location you choose has the latest generation compute, storage, and networking hardware equipment available to host your applications. Using the latest-generation hardware ensures that the performance bottlenecks are not caused due to legacy hardware and provides better reliability.

In the case of storage, NVMe is the latest standard capable of delivering low latency, reliable, exceptional performance (IOPS, throughput, etc.), and is less prone to failure as there are no electro-mechanical parts. NVMe storage can prevent application slowdown, crashes, and other performance issues usually associated with legacy storage hardware, especially if your application heavily uses transactional databases. By choosing a data center with high-performance latest-generation hardware, your applications will run smoothly, and you can deliver excellent customer experiences.

4. Prioritize a data center location that offers a complete solution

To reliably host your application, consider the breadth of the products offered by a cloud provider in their data center. Sometimes, a cloud provider may offer only a subset of their products (e.g., compute, storage) in a given data center location. Choosing such a location translates to an additional expense for your business, as you need to hire someone to devise a workaround to address the product gaps in a given data center location.

For example, consider a scenario where a cloud provider only offers compute resources and no storage resources (e.g., block storage). The workaround for such situations would involve combining the compute resources from one cloud provider with a storage solution from another cloud provider. This approach adds complexity and increases costs for your business, as you need to consider the data ingress/egress costs between cloud providers and allocate resources to analyze bills from at least two providers. Your application may also be unavailable when either cloud provider has an outage, putting your reliability and reputation at stake. Choosing a data center that offers a complete solution can minimize costs and help you focus on growing and scaling your business.

DigitalOcean is focused on making it easier for businesses to deploy and scale their applications. With 15 globally distributed data centers in nine regions, DigitalOcean makes it easier for startups and SMBs to provide exceptional experiences while accelerating growth. Learn more about our product availability across our data centers. To have a conversation about using DigitalOcean for your business, please feel free to contact our sales team.


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