(Ping! Zine Issue 68) – The science of data center relocation may have recently developed a promising new angle – conversion of vacant retail outlets to fully-functional IT facilities. Leveraging existing assets to shorten construction processes and get facilities online faster has been a top priority. Enterprises are getting used to the idea of having secondary and even primary data centers in locations more remote from their current operations center. Cooler natural climates, existing telecommunications, connectivity infrastructures and supportive local economic incentives are all contributing factors that will contribute to facility data center relocations.
Data center operators have turned to vacant department stores and retail centers as an unconventional option for data center locations. These buildings provide environmental stability with fairly open layouts, but there are certainly other considerations that affect the feasibility of these projects.
Sears created Ubiquity Critical Environment to oversee data center relocation decisions with the plan to repurpose some of their retail buildings, according to Forbes. Planning trajectory, which took them from targeting unused department stores and auto centers, shows the process of evaluating unconventional sites at work.
Data Center Relocation to a Sears Department Store?
Earlier this year, Ubiquity’s initial investigation into the practicality of using older facilities to house data centers concluded that old Sears and Kmart buildings would be sufficient, according to Forbes. It’s something of an ironic twist, as the reason these department stores are vacant is that more consumers are turning to online shopping – which, requires more data centers. Power and connectivity requirements for a high-performing data center are much higher than they are for a retail outlet, but Forbes noted that several characteristics of these stores could make them logical extensions of the company’s data center footprint.
Forbes reported that data centers could end up yielding higher profits than a retail outlet, given the competitiveness of the data center market. There are Sears facilities located in appealing areas with local amenities, which attracts companies that want to have things to do when they’re inspecting their on-the-ground facilities. According to Motley Fool, 71 percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Sears store, making them prime locations for wireless towers and state-of-the-art connectivity infrastructures.
Sears examined more than 2,500 Sears and Kmart properties for the possibility of conversion. The first data center relocation project was a 127,000-square-foot Sears store in Chicago.
Are Sears Auto Centers a Better Solution?
More recently, Ubiquity partnered with data center services and equipment provider Schneider Electric to look at Sears Auto Centers for their potential conversion into data center relocation properties. The use of auto centers would create a widely distributed network of smaller data centers, according to Data Center Knowledge. They could prove to be beneficial for companies looking for disaster recovery options versus larger facilities that are sparsely concentrated.