A range of factors can influence the data center you choose. You should consider all of the factors listed in this white paper before deciding where to place your servers.
In teaching SoftLayer classes around the world, one of the questions frequently asked and discussed is how to choose a SoftLayer data center. Several variables go into that decision, which is the topic of this white paper. These reasons broadly fall into two categories, namely business ones such as cost, and technical ones such as latency or feature availability. While there is no single answer (otherwise there would only ever need to be one data center), there are guiding principles to help make optimum selections for a given set of needs.
Before we begin, it is helpful to know the data centers that SoftLayer has available worldwide. As of the writing of this paper, the available data centers are the following:
- Dallas (4)
- Querétaro (Mexico City area)
- San Jose
- Washington, DC
- Hong Kong
Of course new data centers come online frequently. You can always access the most up-to-date list by going to www.softlayer.com/datacenters.
In this white paper, we will discuss the business and technical reasons to choose a specific data center, or at least narrow down the list to a few that are all equally suitable.
Location Relative to Users
Like many groups of factors, the reasons in this list fall into both business and technical categories. One of the advantages of the SoftLayer cloud is that resources are only placed where you choose to put them and they are never migrated by SoftLayer, giving you complete control over the location of your data.
The first, and probably most important, consideration in selecting a data center is its location relative to those who will need to access its resources. If your employees, customers, etc. are primarily based in Canada, then a Canadian data center makes the most sense, while an Asian data center makes the least sense since the latency for everyone accessing it would be very high.
On the other hand, if you have users all over the world, you have two choices if you want to stick with a single location, namely:
Pick where the highest concentration of users are located, which is beneficial to a large percentage of users in one geographic area. But with a small number located elsewhere, this will cause users in outlying areas to have a poorer experience.
Select a central location where latency won't be too high for anyone but won't be very low for most users either. The idea is that few users will have a poor experience, but few will have a great experience either.
There is a third option, which is usually the best option overall: using multiple data centers located closest to your users. This provides the lowest latency, but at the highest cost due to redundant equipment in each of those data centers. Note that if you have relatively static content, such as images, video, or audio, you may consider using SoftLayer's Content Delivery Network (CDN) in conjunction with object storage. The upside of this approach is that you don't need to deploy servers with content around the world. The downside is that you will pay for every gigabyte of bandwidth used (not to mention the gigabytes used with object storage) instead of taking advantage of the free public network outgoing bandwidth that SoftLayer provides (for monthly servers only). While usually the simpler option, in extreme bandwidth consumption scenarios, this may be more expensive. You can view the locations on the CDN by going to http://www.softlayer.com/content-delivery-network.