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Data Storage

Is Montana the Next Big Data Hub? 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-sky-big-cloud dept.
rye (208438) writes "Montana is positioning itself as the next hub for big data and cyber security. With companies like Symantec and IBM investing heavily in high-tech development, the opening of University of Montana's new Cyber Innovation Laboratory, and statewide competitions such as this weekend's Montana Cyber Triathlon (which had the coolest trophy ever), the momentum is strong. Cheap labor, cheap space and the Northern Tier backbone (with stretches over 600 miles across the width of Montana) are all contributing to the new tech growth. Even Congress is jumping on the bandwagon: Montana Rep. Steve Daines, a member of the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security, recently said 'Technology has removed geography as a constant.'"
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Is Montana the Next Big Data Hub?

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  • Not really.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We have electricty you know!

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday May 05, 2014 @09:42AM (#46918537) Homepage
    Cheap labor seems to be the thing that stands out the most. I would think that labor is only cheap in Montana because land is cheap, and therefore people can live for less money. When even a modest house is , you don't have to wonder why they have to pay people so much to work there. Even if you pay the workers the same amount, you can attract a lot of talent because they'll be able to live that much more comfortably.
    • by alen (225700)

      maybe for you, but for a lot of people you have to pay them more to live in a place with no Starbucks, no Whole Foods Market, no sushi, no thai food

      and generally any place where the only kinds of restaurants are american food

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Yeah, I think there needs to be a happy medium ground somewhere. Paying $1,000,000 for a house isn't my idea of a good time, but neither is travelling 300 miles every time you want to do some shopping. The point is, there's no reason for everything in be in one place. There are plenty of cities with a reasonable cost of living, that don't required that you forgo a modern lifestyle.
        • Missoula (the U of M town) is sort of like a pre Starbucks Austin. Fairly liberal, small but vibrant community. Lots of problems, but nothing unusual in that. Great hiking, camping, skiing.

          There are worse places to live, by far.

          • It's so damn cold in the winter though. I got sent up to Brrrrville in December when there was a fresh foot of snow on top of all the old half-melted compact snow and I was very displeased at the 0F temperatures I endured.

            Can't we comprormise and have MT be the home of the summer data center, and then have a winter data center down in Florida?
        • Try Topeka Kansas 200-300k will buy a nice place plenty of malls, starbucks, bistros, traffic is not that bad.

      • Google Maps, search nearby, Starbucks, Sushi, Whole Foods.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Are you implying Montana has no star bucks or ethnic food? I assume these data centers will be around Billings or Missoula, not a random small town, both places have multiple sushi places, thai food, indian food, and a host of other ethnic foods.
      • by Sporkinum (655143)

        At least they have both types of music. Country and Western.

      • Re:Cheap Labor (Score:5, Informative)

        by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:58AM (#46919189) Homepage Journal

        " no Starbucks, no Whole Foods Market, no sushi, no thai food"
        7 Thai restaurants in Billings.
        8 Sushi in Billings
        45 Coffee shops including Starbucks.
        No Whole Foods but the Good Earth Market and Natural Grocers can fill the bill for a lot of people and you also have Costco.

        • by itzdandy (183397)

          DUDE! Shut UP! There's no Indian food, no Thai food, no Sushi, no Lucky's or natural Grocers, no buildings over 2 stories, no stadium, the beer is really expensive, we have to look up wine in a book made from papyrus, and it's illegal to wear anything but a cowboy hat. seriously, it sucks here, don't come.

          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Sorry but I just used Yelp.
            Part of me really wants to move to Wyoming. I was born here in South Florida and I am tired of the heat, traffic, and snow birds.

      • Re:Cheap Labor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gsslay (807818) on Monday May 05, 2014 @11:16AM (#46919315)

        Pardon me, while I snort with derision at the notion that Starbucks is a measure of sophistication and diversity.

      • by cve (181337) on Monday May 05, 2014 @12:33PM (#46920037)

        I hate it when I'm in farm country and can't find a Whole Foods to get fresh food.

        • by Rinikusu (28164)

          Having worked through montana, etc, well, I hope you like corn. And it's not even good corn, it's the stuff that's really starchy and is used to produce all those wonderful products that go into everything.

          Farm country is now just one big monocrop monoculture just about everywhere.

      • maybe for you, but for a lot of people you have to pay them more to live in a place with no Starbucks, no Whole Foods Market, no sushi, no thai food

        and generally any place where the only kinds of restaurants are american food

        Have you ever heard of a phrase that goes like this? "Just fucking google it"?

        I have a hard time thinking Montana folks would have difficulties finding organic food. Plus sushi and thai foods are pretty much as American now as chicken pie, you find them everywhere except in the poorest of towns (not isolated, but poorest, poorest != isolated.).

        The only concern I would have to relocate to a state like Montana is the ability to live in a cosmopolitan city with several 4-year degree college options for my

      • I live in a mid-west town population around 30k and have malls, 24/7 stores, fast food, pizza places, starbucks, other coffee houses and bistros, froyo, sushi, tia, italian, turkish. Not to mention all the places w/country cooking.

        I'll be fair and say there are 4 towns in two counties slammed against each other with a state college in one w/total population around 130k. You can drive from one town to the next and only know because there is a sign.

        Probably not far off from what to expect around Billings Mont

      • by faedle (114018)

        You apparently haven't been to Billings lately.

        It has all of the above.

    • Re:Cheap Labor (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday May 05, 2014 @09:57AM (#46918659) Homepage
      Missing link and words

      When even a modest house is $1,000,000 in San Francisco [slate.com], you don't have to wonder.....
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Missing link and words

        When even a modest house is $1,000,000 in San Francisco [slate.com], you don't have to wonder.....

        I have a house of the same square footage as that San Fransisco example, which cost me 16% as much just outside of Chicago and you know that house in San Francisco doesn't sit on a half-acre lot either.

      • Missing link and words When even a modest house is $1,000,000 in San Francisco [slate.com], you don't have to wonder.....

        Cold, hard facts like those where the ones that quickly disabused my wife and I from the notion of relocating our entire family to the Bay Area.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I had a coworker in silicon valley that telecommuted from Montana. He loved it. California salary, Montana cost of living, and good fishing.

    • Cheap labor seems to be the thing that stands out the most. I would think that labor is only cheap in Montana because land is cheap, and therefore people can live for less money. When even a modest house is , you don't have to wonder why they have to pay people so much to work there. Even if you pay the workers the same amount, you can attract a lot of talent because they'll be able to live that much more comfortably.

      There are many factors to consider for a data hub site. I would consider the following
      a) Low summer heat to cut A/C costs. Winter cold where surplus heat would be absorbed to maintain the building temperature.
      b) Reliable and low cost electricity supply (24/7) plus 4cents per kwh.
      c) Multilingual labor (English, Spanish, French, Arab ) speaking
      d) Talent for operations and enhancements for mostly unmanned operation
      e) Cost of employee benefits.
      f) Great universities around the Data Hub Site
      g) State of the art

  • Your infrastructure is insufficient.
  • by Maxwell Rebo (3639719) on Monday May 05, 2014 @09:43AM (#46918543)
    Being from Montana, and having been involved in the startup scene there, I can say that these developments are definitely an improvement but it still has a long ways to go. The main hangups for Montana are: -Remoteness (expensive to fly into / out of) -Lack of competitive talent (all the talent moves to bigger cities for work) But the pluses are substantial: -Great taxes (both current and previous governor, senators did a lot to improve tax situation for small-mid sized businesses) -Attractive work environment: proximity to Glacier Park, Yellowstone, lots of other great places to explore -As the article mentions, plenty of relatively cheap space to work in If they can manage to make the travel situation more fluid and less expensive, and find ways to keep top talent from moving to San Francisco or New York, they'll do well.
  • To get from the Midwest to Cali, my trace route goes to Chicago, then Dallas, then Cali. Maybe with a stronger trunk going through Montana, we can get a route that goes a bit more northern for a shorter distance.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday May 05, 2014 @09:44AM (#46918563) Journal

    So, how's Montana doing on the whole "we love a diverse population that looks like the whole world" thing?

  • Not enough people (Score:3, Insightful)

    by putaro (235078) on Monday May 05, 2014 @09:53AM (#46918625) Journal

    Montana's total population is just slightly above 1 million. SF Bay Area is more like 7.4 million with a much higher percentage of tech workers. So, no, Montana isn't going to be the next tech hub because there aren't enough workers there. Might be a place for DC's if there's enough bandwidth.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That might not be a bad thing. I live in a city that went from 300,000 people to over two million in about 10 years, and houses went from $30,000 for a nice house to $250,000 for a place where you will be spending 45-60 minutes for a commute. To boot, there are not the Bay Area amenities and no parks either (well, except for Zilker, which requires a taxi to go to.) If you want a zoo, you have to drive 90 miles to another city.

      I would be happy to move to a relatively small town of tech-minded people. It

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        To boot, there are not the Bay Area amenities and no parks either

        I live in Minnesota and have visited the Bay Area a couple of times. Amenities, you are spot on: they are a little expensive, but they are there, and certainly more interesting and diverse than what we can obtain in Minnesota.

        But what people in the Bay Area call "parks" we call "walking out your front door" in Minnesota.

        Also, Muir Woods? I'm happy that there is some patch of land that still has trees in the Bay Area, but it was kind of sad s

      • Just FYI, the parent is referring to Austin, TX. They had a huge population growth period but the city was under the mentality of "If we don't build it, they won't come." They were wrong, so Austin has something like the 4th worst traffic [chron.com] in the US and a cost of living somewhat like Atlanta.

      • That might not be a bad thing. I live in a city that went from 300,000 people to over two million in about 10 years,

        No, you don't. Assuming you're talking about Austin (given the Zilker Park reference), the Austin Metro Statistical Area was 1.83 million in 2012. In 2000, it was 1.25 million. That's some serious growth, but it's nowhere near 300k to 2 million. The MSA had 300k people in 1960, but I guess "300k to 2 million in 50 years" doesn't have the same ring to it.

    • I can make a case for my hometown, Ludington, Michigan.
      1. We have cheap labor hear.
      2. We are close to several large cities(Chicago is only about 250 miles) and Universities(Michigan State, University of Michigan)
      3. We have one of the largest pumped storage plants in the world for power.
      4. A very small part of that water could be used for cooling. The temperature of Lake Michigan is still under 40 degrees.
      5. We have 56 windmills in the county. There is a large potential area in the center of Lake Mich

      • While these are good points, you did forget to point out the 2.7 metric fucktons of snow that Lake Michigan deposits on you.

      • My wife and I visited Ludington a few years ago. I love the West side of Michigan.
        We were really impressed by the number of people that turned out on a Saturday morning the week before Memorial Day to plant flowers and beautify the town for Tourist season. If an employer looking for a Senior System Engineer was in Ludington or even Muskegon, we would move there in a heartbeat.

    • by Bengie (1121981)
      And 10 years from now? Creating these datacenters will create demand for people to move or get educated.
      • by putaro (235078)

        Probably not. Datacenters don't employ very many people. It's easy enough to fly in specialists to set them up and debug the really ugly problems.

    • by Rinikusu (28164)

      As others have stated, that might not be a bad thing.

      For one, there's a chicken/egg problem. No reason to stay if there's no jobs, no reason to move if there's no jobs. But if there's jobs and a means to pay for people to stay/relocate, then that problem may solve itself. There's plenty of IT/Dev workers who've grown tired of "big city" life and the associated issues that come with it: Expensive Housing, Expensive transportation, constant congestion, tons of pollution (noise, light, sound, and environme

  • Economics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jamesl (106902) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:00AM (#46918679)

    Companies used to locate based on availability of transportation -- rivers, ports etc. Now it's a data pipe.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Transportation still matters when you're making physical goods.

    • by Sporkinum (655143)

      And how much the state is will to pay in tax breaks to get them there. Here in Iowa, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have all put in or are putting in, large data centers.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      With outsourcing they'll move the the business halfway around the earth if needed, it's not really the pipe they come for. You'll get nowhere without a talent pool that's interesting to somebody.

  • Recruiting? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anlashok (120734) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:07AM (#46918723)

    I would think if this was even somewhat true it would be evident from attempts to recruit talent from outside Montana. I haven't heard or seen any postings to attract experienced talent. This sounds like another "Promote the story to get more funds from the government" and press for the local politicians to start another mediocre fake Silicon Valley. Another place to put technology that only needs cheap inexperienced labor from the local schools. A warehouse for servers where the only talent needed is ability to push a button for hard reboot and pull out a drive or motherboard... A+ Certified only requirement, unless thats too expensive. The more experienced employees will still be elsewhere remoting in when needed.
    Or am I just being too harsh :-)

    • Eh, my company had postings for at least 3-4 tech positions for our Montana data center in the last six months or so. They're not as numerous as they are for the big cities, but they exist.
    • Nope, just right. Every country wants to get their own knockoff Silicon Valley with these cargo-cult antics. But they can't copy what really matters:

      The brand name which is tied to the location.

      You can put together all the skilled employees and overvalued half-baked ideas you want, but outside of the original Silicon Valley they are worthless. No VCs are looking to blow cash on their startups. Startups don't even get called startups, they use the full name, "unsuccessful small businesses," which is what pre

  • ...not in liquid nitrogen ?
  • by Mefesto44 (1031702) on Monday May 05, 2014 @10:15AM (#46918797)
    As the Network Administrator for the largest independent Primary Care facility in Montana I'm getting a kick out of these replies. Montana is awesome. Like, REALLY awesome if you enjoy the outdoors. I love to fish, snowmobile, hike, dirt bike, cruise the lakes and rivers, kayak, snowboard, camp.... this place is heaven on earth. However, be prepared to take a significant pay cut to live here. My current position pays me almost less than half of what my job would pull in major metropolitan areas. This fact alone is why a lot of people would never consider living here. Property taxes aren't cheap for homeowners and first time home buyers are in for a shock that the cheapest decent homes on the market in my area are selling for around $250,000 - $280,000. I moved here from Atlanta about 20 years ago and some of my friends are scoring 3,000 - 4,000 sqft homes under $200,000 that are REALLY nice. Combine the high cost of first time home ownership with low wages and you can see why it isn't very attractive to live here on paper. But, if I have to be honest, I LOVE it this way. It keeps the big open spaces open (for now), population centers aren't overcrowded, and our populace is generally very happy and content. Usually I enjoy telling people this place sucks so they don't even think of moving here.
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday May 05, 2014 @11:12AM (#46919287) Homepage

      He's lying folks. Really, his salary is $500K / yr, he lives in a 4000 sq foot mansion that he paid $100,000 for and he gets all the bison he can eat. He's just not very social and doesn't want neighbors.

      Just like the rest of us.

      So, lets all move to Montana and say 'howdy'!

    • As the Network Administrator for the largest independent Primary Care facility in Montana I'm getting a kick out of these replies.

      Indeed... every time one of these stories gets posted, we get a flood of the same kind of replies "it's not McHipsterville, so nobody will want to live there". Get the hell over yourselves Slashdot. Not everyone is a McHipster.

  • by fermion (181285)
    Back around 2000, I saw firms considering moving from location that had abundant water and power to locations that did not have abundant water and power. I thought they were crazy, but you the lemming push for everyone to herd and go over the cliff is great.

    I don't know if Montana has power issues, but I do know that they felt is was worthwhile to sue Wyoming over what amounted to about 10,000 acre feet of water.

    And, of course, as mentioned, if you have data. There might be a backbone, but that is like

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No. Montana sucks. Please don't move here...I mean there.

  • Whenever someone Slashvertises something on /. with a post whose title is a question then (at least) one of us always brings up Betteridge's Law Of Headlines [wikipedia.org]. If not directly, then indirectly (like this [slashdot.org]).

    So why do they keep doing it? I gotta believe that if someone's paying for it that at least one customer would follow up with the results at least one time (and send feedback to whichever company/-ies slashvertise for them)

    (Yes, my subject should be "Why do Slashvertisements...", but I ran out of characte

  • Gonna be a dental floss tycoon.

  • In 30 years or so when I inherit my parents' home in Missoula, I'll be sitting pretty.

    In the mean time, I can go visit them and enjoy the pre-Fairfax/Loudoun County-ized state of the area.

    This seems like a win-win situation to me.

  • You can't quit us!

  • The Big Sky area of Montana is already full of vacation homes and ranches of wealthy VC types so its not a big stretch that they might choose to plop a Data Center there. Still I think it is far more likely that you will see more data centers copping up in SLC because of the NSA. All the big government contractors will be putting boots on the ground in SLC and they can't co-locate at the NSA facility.

    SF, NYC, and DC are just so expensive.

  • I was stationed there in the middle 80's - pretty much the eastern half of the state is minuteman III missile silos. Good old Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls!

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