Road trips are always defined by the places there isn't enough time to see. Writing about The Cloud through the lens of a road trip is tricky, because those gaps of things unseen tend to be on other continents. The presumed technical advantage of The Cloud is that it's a global apparatus, and here we were barely able to take in the lower forty-eight, barely able to take in a single city. While our 2007 Toyota Tacoma unfortunately could not traverse the Atlantic Ocean, here’s a quick overview of some aspects of international cloud infrastructure that you might want to know about.
The things that shape data-center geography outside the U.S. aren't all that different from things that shape data-center geography in the U.S. In general, large companies building cloud infrastructure seek access to land, and appealing climates—environmental, financial, and political. Places with high concentrations of Internet exchanges, network infrastructure, U.S.-friendly governments, existing tech sectors, or highly educated populations (Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Singapore) become logical locations for data centers. Proximity to this Internet backbone reduces latency and it's easier to hire people to work there. Scandinavia, a region popular with companies like Google and Facebook, isn't particularly rife with backbone or dense with Internet exchanges, but it makes up for this with cool climates, access to hydroelectric and geothermal power, and vast expanses that instill both existential despair and stoicism.