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As per the question title, how much do large private data centres cost to run?

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closed as not a real question by Jason Berg, Ward, Wesley, ThatGraemeGuy, pauska Feb 16 '11 at 11:49

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Heaps. Lots and lots and lots. Shitloads. A metric crap-tonne. Take your pick. –  Mark Henderson Feb 16 '11 at 4:19
    
Can you throw a number? More than $30M? –  Rigo Vides Feb 16 '11 at 4:22
    
@Rigo - if FB and Google are only spending $30M/year on their DC costs then they're getting the deal of the century. I read recently that FB push about a terrabit of data every second. That kind of bandwidth costs mega bucks to build and maintain. –  Mark Henderson Feb 16 '11 at 4:23
    
Monthly, again, monthly. –  Rigo Vides Feb 16 '11 at 4:25
    
$30 million a month doesn't sound too unreasonable for the low end without any specifics... although it depends on how you define "production cost." Power? Cooling? Staffing? Taxes? Connectivity? Security services? Sharks with frickin lasers? –  Robert Novak Feb 16 '11 at 4:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

http://investor.google.com/earnings/2010/Q4_google_earnings.html

Other Cost of Revenues - Other cost of revenues, which is comprised primarily
of data center operational expenses, amortization of intangible assets, content
acquisition costs as well as credit card processing charges, increased to $877
million, or 10% of revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to $688
million, or 10% of revenues, in the fourth quarter of 2009.

There's no indication of how many datacenters that covers, or the breakdown between datacenters and the other costs, but that gives you an order-of-magnitude estimation of the total cost.

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And that may not cover bandwidth/connectivity, depending on how they define "data center operational expenses." It could just be lease/mortgage/amortized cost, power, cooling, taxes, and physical facility costs. –  Robert Novak Feb 16 '11 at 4:50

Rigo you question is way too undefined to answer with any degree of accuracy but I'm going to give it a go regardless as this is kind of up my street.

The main issue is what's counted as production cost, lets go through them in order of most-likely-to-be-included-in-production-costs;

  1. The physical space - this could be owned or rented, it could be in NYC/London/Tokyo or in some Alabama/Thai swampland. If it's owned then that cost will typically be amortised (or more likely lease-backed) against a period of time, so for example if Google wanted say to buy a 5,000-10,000 square metre data centre (which is probably about average for a reasonable sized primary suite) in NYC, London or Tokyo (i.e. expensive places) you're probably looking at around $20m-$30m over a 20 year period just for the land. This works out at about $0.25m/mo or so, in Alabama or Thailand perhaps as little as $15k/mo. To rent this space, well at 15-25% to the above costs.
  2. Building and 'plant' - this is the cost of the physical building, power systems (but not supply), aircon etc. Again if bought for the size of data centre discussed above in NYC etc. I'd be budgeting around $10m-$25m depending on things like location and power/BTU per square metre, this varies much less in cheaper areas/countries than land costs buy you could still save as much a 33% or so by building outside the city. So lease-backed over say 7-12 years you're looking at another $200k/mo or so. To rent, well of course this would be typically bundled in with the land cost but you're still talking very similar money as the building owners are more likely to amortise the costs over a longer period of time that you would as owner but then they want their margin too - so about the same.
  3. Power/Aircon - power varies a lot across the world, in odd ways too, but for a data centre as described above you're probably looking at say 2,000 racks, each pulling say 4Kw, plus the actual lighting, office functions etc. at around $5c/Kwh ends up about $350k/mo.
  4. Local rates/taxes - again varies hugely, especially in the less modern parts of the world, but you should bank on between $100k-$500k/mo all in.
  5. Staffing - this is the big one, for a data centre such as above you'll need a 4-to-8 man security team for 24/365 cover, costing between $15-$35k/mo depending on location. Then you have the ops and admin team, I'd be looking at between $150k-$300k/mo - considerably less if 'offshore', perhaps less than half in fact.

Now these costs don't include servers/networking/storage etc. and don't include developers/integration etc. just keeping the show on the road type guys simply because there's no way to even hazard a guess at these issue. They also don't include comms costs, again due to huge variances.

Purely out of personal experience I have three dedicated suites at a very large data centre in London's Docklands area, about 750 square metres with full service (power/aircon, security, admin, changes) but my own fibres in/out of the place and it costs me around $2.2m/year. I also have a 6,000 square metre place that we own that still costs around $26m/year to run. Comms costs are $500k and $7m respectively per year.

Hope this helps.

By the way, MarkH's comment above is probably what these companies actually work off, when you're making piles of cash nobody stands around counting, only when the cash stops coming in :)

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Superb answer! Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. Very enlightening and much appreciated. –  Peter Krnjevic Dec 9 '13 at 17:19

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