The Hawaiian Telcom Blog

Data Centers: Essential to Hawaii’s Future

By Hawaiian Telcom on May 14, 2024 9:53:24 AM

Tags: IT Solutions, Disaster Recovery, Technology

As Hawaii builds our digital economy, the importance of local data centers has become increasingly important. Hawaii’s unique location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means that data stored on the mainland must travel thousands of miles across the ocean before it reaches us, which can result in delays or latency.

Does anyone remember The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational in 2016? So many people wanted to watch the live stream of this prestigious big wave surfing competition but the live stream data was stored on the mainland. Every individual connection to view the video stream took up bandwidth between Hawaii and the mainland, in some cases resulting in delays that were not unlike a traffic jam. Imagine thousands of us all driving on the H1 freeway to attend a major event at Aloha Stadium. Traffic slows when a massive amount of people are on the same route at the same time.

Just like freeways are not built for every resident and visitor to drive on them simultaneously, the infrastructure that connects Hawaii to the rest of the world is not designed to support hundreds of thousands of simultaneous high-definition video streaming sessions. Hawaii is primarily connected to the world via undersea fiber cables that allow signals in the form of light to travel incredibly fast. But even at the speed of light, a signal sent to California and back to Hawaii can result in some delay if a deluge of signals are going the same way at the same time. Our local economy depends on seamless connectivity for everyday activities including credit card transactions, video conferences, emergency services, and online courses, and many of us have become accustomed to these activities occurring with no delays.

This is where local data centers can help. When data is stored here in Hawaii, it eliminates the travel to the mainland and back before allowing you to do what you’re trying to do. A data center stores critical data, computing equipment and hardware such as servers, data storage drives and network equipment, for large businesses. Data centers also provide redundant power, cooling and security to ensure the data and systems are online and accessible with almost no downtime. Aligned with this, data centers are generally located above ground level in buildings that are reinforced for disasters such as flooding.

Here are some additional reasons why local data centers are so important here in Hawaii:

  • Connectivity: Hawaii's strategic location in the Pacific Ocean makes it a hub for trans-Pacific telecommunications cables. This connectivity provides fast and reliable internet access for data centers, particularly for companies focused on serving customers in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Disaster Recovery and Resilience: Our Aloha State is susceptible to hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and more recently devastating wildfires. When these events happen, electricity is degraded, travel becomes difficult, and service reliability is tested. Partnering with a local data center can keep local businesses online, avoiding cash only transactions in the middle of a disaster. In some cases, Hawaii’s geographic isolation can be beneficial. A local data center provides enhanced physical security in the event of a disaster on the mainland.
  • Job Creation and Technological Innovation: Data centers require specialized skills to operate and grow, which means high-tech jobs that pay well right here in Hawaii. There are also many technology, information and computer science higher education courses, degrees and certifications that can be earned here in Hawaii.
  • Tax Revenue: The economic activity required in designing, building, and maintaining a data center facility generates significant tax revenue in the form of general excise tax, property tax, and others.

If the 2016 Eddie video stream had been hosted at a local data center, the impact may not have been noticeable. Many video streaming providers host their services locally today, which is why we can all stream new releases on the same evening. Over and above that, local data centers are critical to our economy and the continuity of daily operations in Hawaii.

Evan Horton is director of service delivery at Hawaiian Telcom. Reach him at 

© Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Visit this article in the Star-Advertiser.

Share this article: