Jersey’s Fibershed

The New Jersey region continues to be fertile ground for server farms and expansive fiber optic networks.  A demand for robust IT resources with close proximity to the New York metropolitan region has spurred an arms-race among Wall Street institutions that trade at nanosecond intervals.  Latency, the delay experienced along digital transmission routes, is the variable requiring data centers to locate as close as possible to the trading ‘floor.’  This phenomena, know as ‘Proximity Trading,’ establishes a unique morphological contingency for the financial sector in today’s global city.  Data Centers proliferate in dense pockets near the markets they trade with and often inhabit valuable commercial real estate, once filled with industry executives and investment firms.  This displacement of human resources in favor of Automated Market Makers is truly perplexing for the evolution of the contemporary city.

High Frequency Trading (HFT) data centers differ from their Cloud supporting cousins in two ways. First, the HFT data center functions as a super computer.  Similar to mainframes of the Cold War era, they combine their assets to become a high-volume, rapid response hot-rod, rather than a redundant storage and back-up array.  In addition to speed, the coefficient of lag or latency is regarded as a prerequisite for attaining a competitive edge in the HFT game.  Co-locating at the market or as near as possible to it has limited and altered the footprint of the HFT data center.  Here, proprietary algorithms and database statistics on market behavior are hosted on virtual real estate, priced at a premium.  Allegations of preferential treatment for firms that are allowed to lease this limited server space abound in the industry.

If the priority for High Frequency Traders is rapid response times, then why have they announced leasing server space in Jersey?  Security and reliability are good for redundancy and back-up, but Jersey is a millisecond too far when competing for speed with downtown data centers.  Therefore, is Jersey’s Fibershed an indicator that the real engine of nanosecond liquidity is not in Jersey but remains in Manhattan?  Or, has the market pipeline moved to black boxes in Jersey, where the real transactions take place?  Are markets in Manhattan merely storefronts of a disembodied trading forum that have moved, both physically and virtually, to a model of digital capital combustion?

Port Authority Building’s tenants expand

111 8th Ave. home to Google’s “offices” is the most wired carrier hotel in Manhattan. Google’s lease of another 57,000 square feet in addition to its existing 260,000 has caused much speculation and intrigue.  The old Port Authority Commerce Building facilitates the convergence of the largest networks in the region.  Peering records have revealed that Google partakes in public peering at the NYIIX exchange via the Switch & Data’s Paix data center in the same building.  On all accounts however, Google does not operate one of its own data centers on site and emphasizes its lease primarily houses sales and business operations.

The New York Observer’s article

If it exists … It is sustainable.

In an attempt to lure the IT industry to the site of the former NATO Command Centre in Keflavik Iceland, Verne Holdings promises security, geothermal power, free cooling, stable energy pricing, and green credentials for its investors.  Marketing Iceland as a affordable destination for data centers is but one step the government has made to try and revive its failing economy.

I wonder if they ever got that loan from the Russians to shore up their financial institutions and failing banks?  And how about that 6.1 earthquake?

Data Centers Are the Least of Iceland’s Worries

Somehow not surprised

Upon my return to civilization, I notice that Google announced that they are creating a subsidiary “Google Energy” that pending approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will buy and sell energy on the open market.  Many speculate that this development in large part is due to looming Carbon Cap and Trade Regulation for the IT industry.  As a energy marketer, Google may be taking a more systemic approach to addressing their energy footprint.  This may be a wise move considering the time it takes to retool and reconfigure a vast global network of physical infrastructure.

Google Energy - Are You Surprised?

Google Applies to Become Power Marketer

Will Google Energy Power Its Data Centers?

Scale and Distribution

Mindful of paths of least resistance, the IT industry deploys a disaggregated version of itself across scales.  Does the data center thrive at the intersection of information and real estate?  Depreciable assets on wheels—->new asset class?

Data Center Primer

A quickstart guide to becoming familiar with data centers and their impact on our built environment:

Comprehensive and general survey see Tom Vanderbuilts article for the New York Times Magazine:

"Data Center Overload"

How state pressure is shaping the Cloud and its physical infrastructure see Michael Mano’s blog post:

"The Cloud Politic"

Leading up to containerization…Michael Manos’s blog post:

"A Practical Guide to the Early Days of Data Center Containers"

High Frequency Trading according to MIT Technology Review:

"Trading Shares in Milliseconds"

Investigation into telecommunication systems past and present, see Kazys Varnelis’s piece:

"the centripetal city: telecommunications, the internet, and the shaping of the modern urban environment"