Renting servers or VPSes in a secondary market like Spokane, WA or Coeur d'Alene, ID can offer a number of benefits for businesses and individuals. These areas would traditionally be considered "secondary markets" when referring to internet hubs or data center markets. As the domestic (and international) fiber networks continue to expand and fiber optic transceiver technology continues to improve, this is bringing previously connection-starved areas into play. On the other hand, traditional "first markets" for data centers are becoming crowded and finding it more difficult to bring additional power and fiber into their facilities due to logistical and construction issues. Given the advances in data connectivity, operators and users are now able to evaluate specific locations to deploy their servers differently than a decade ago.
In years past, you wanted to be in the same "telco hotel" (also known as a carrier hotel, telecommunications hotel, or data center hotel) as all the other major providers or carriers. A telco hotel is a specific type of data center that provides space and infrastructure for telecommunications and internet service providers (ISPs) to locate their equipment in a central hub. The main purpose of this is to allow interconnections between your edge gear (routers/switches) and another carrier's edge gear so your users can transit directly without going over multiple public internet routes. This shrinks the amount of "hops" each packet has to transverse and ultimately ends up with a better end-user experience as well as less bandwidth expenses for the operator. With improvements in fiber optics, networking gear, and overall bandwidth capacities this has become less of a concern for individual operators leading to less of a need to be physically present in the few major internet exchanges which are becoming increasingly more competitive (read: expensive) to enter. We'll go over all the points below that also make secondary data markets like Spokane and Coeur d'Alene extremely attractive in 2023.
Renting servers in a secondary market like Spokane can be more cost-effective than renting in a major metropolitan area such as Los Angeles. This is because the cost of living and doing business is generally lower in these areas, leading to lower overhead costs for data center operators and dedicated server providers. As a result, you are much more likely to get a better deal on your server rental in Spokane or Coeur d'Alene compared to a larger city. These areas also have an abundance of local hydroelectric power which is significantly cheaper (and cleaner!). Additionally, the regions' cooler climate gives a geographical advantage by allowing data centers to mix ambient air and save on operational expenses and drastically reduce overhead expenses by improving their PUE. These exact reasons are why companies like Microsoft, Dell, Sabey, Intuit, H5, and many others are located (and building more) in Quincy, WA and other non-major-metropolitan areas.
Another important factor to consider when choosing where to rent your dedicated servers and VPSes is reliability. In a secondary market like Spokane, you may be less likely to experience disruptions due to natural disasters, power outages, or unforseen other events. This can be especially important for businesses that rely on servers for mission-critical operations and backups, as even a short outage can have significant consequences.
This interactive map from FEMA illustrates the point very well. All the counties colored in dark purple and light blue are "relatively low" to "very low". These ratings take into account 18 different kinds of natural disasters and compare it to the rest of the country. Some of these include: earthquake, hurricane, heat wave, tornado, tsunami, and more. This isn't to say that at any moment Los Angeles is going to fall into the ocean and take your Minecraft server with it, but the risk of natural disaster there is significantly higher and they do not produce enough power locally to meet demand. LA is nearly completely reliant on an extensive (and expensive) network of transmission lines and substations bringing electricity in from as far away as Washington and Utah!
With the growth of major metropolitan areas all over the US, this same story rings true for many of the major traditional "first market" data centers that exist today. This is why a lot of top-tier facilities like Switch are building in more geographically-stable areas and are also physically much closer to where the electricity is produced. Generators with "fueling contracts" are nice if it is just a simple power outage due to a transformer replacement or other similarly routine event, but I would not have a lot of faith if a more serious event occurred. Whether it is a major earthquake or the riots the US endured during the summer of 2020, the risk to a data center is exponentially higher in an area like Los Angeles.
When it comes to dedicated servers and VPSes, one size does not always fit all. Depending on your specific needs and goals, you may require a more custom-tailored solution. Renting services in a secondary market can give you more flexibility in this regard, as operators in these areas are more likely to be able to work with you on a custom solution. More often than not, you will be dealing directly with the facility owners who will have the ability to give you specific answers rather than generic canned policy responses.
Overall, renting dedicated servers in a secondary market like Spokane or Coeur d'Alene can offer a number of benefits, including: cost savings, reliability, and customization. These factors can be especially important for businesses and individuals who rely on servers for mission-critical operations or have specific needs and deployment goals. I purposely did not go into potential censorship or discriminatory state-level laws that might affect your business or data, but that is another very realistic concern these days. 20 years ago the internet was in its infancy and it made sense to have everything close to major population centers due to technological and logistical limitations. With the significant progress made on fiber technologies and new fiber deployments throughout the US, your data going approximately 311 miles from Coeur d'Alene to SIX in Seattle only adds ~3-4ms of latency versus being in Seattle itself. For reference, most people see an additional ~3-5ms of latency over Wi-Fi from their own phone at home to the Wi-Fi router in their same house.
We're at a point where the way potential customers and facility operators assign risk and value to their deployments has changed. You can get high quality hardware and connectivity in many more places than you could just 8-10 years ago and things like geographic risk, political persecution, and cost savings to the end customer make the secondary data center markets a way more feasible and attractive option now.
P.S. If you need some instant dedicated servers or fast NVMe VPSes located in the Spokane–Coeur d'Alene CSA we've got you covered ;)