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Data Centers in Strange Places 187

johannacw writes "Would you house a data center in a diamond mine or an old chapel? These organizations did, with great success; many of these facilities offer the latest in cooling and energy technology, among other advances. 'If you want an even more hardened environment for your data, you might look at the aptly named InfoBunker in Boone, Iowa, about an hour outside Des Moines. [...] The 65,000-square-foot, five-story site is dug deep into the ground. No one gets in without passing though the 4.5-ton steel door and then a three-step process. A scanner uses radio frequency to read the would-be entrant's skin as a biometric identifier. He then needs to use a keycard and enter a code on the keypad. This three-tier security is standard for high-level military installations, McGinnis explains.'"
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Data Centers in Strange Places

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  • Patented by Google (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KillerCow ( 213458 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @06:24PM (#20933397)
    From TFA:

    [caption] DeBeers' data center, in the Arctic Circle, in two retrofitted shipping containers.

    So, they are paying Google royalties [slashdot.org] for the technology which Google invented, right?
  • Best one I've seen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Render_Man ( 181666 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @06:44PM (#20933623) Homepage
    The best data center I've seen is an un-named co-lo company in Canada who has their operations on the top floor of a mall in what used to be movie theaters.

    The escalators go up to the floor and promptly end at a wall. A one way mirror hides an RFID reader which 'open sesame' style activates the wall to move and let you in.

    No signs, or outward indications as to it being there. Lotsa space, redundant everything and all hiding in plain sight. It was pretty cool.
  • Re:I always wonder. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stripe7 ( 571267 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @06:49PM (#20933667)
    Data centers can be in strange locations, before the advent of data centers companies just put their computers anywhere. Two strange locations I know, a closet in the womens bathroom at a company and a closet in the another companies machine shop. One had access issues, the other had massive metal dust issues. One large company for some strange reason put all their printers in their computer room, talk about paper dust issues. One other one I remember was under the companies staircase.
  • Above the ceiling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maggard ( 5579 ) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @07:48PM (#20934265) Homepage Journal

    File server, print server, dual tape loaders, UPS, all setting on shelves, mounted above the level a suspended ceiling, with a mirrored fail-over setup at the opposite side of the building, also above ceiling-level.

    It was a medical office and they were floor-space constrained so 'going up' seemed the logical solution (there was an absurd amount of space up there.) They'd had the electrician in to put outlets up there, the shelves were reinforced and had a lip added so nothing accidentally slid off (there was even a strap with a buckle to make sure nothing ever dropped down.) The hardest part was lifting the hardware up into place.

    It was a complete "you've got to be kidding!" scenario when I first saw it, but I had to admit for a crazy location it was a sweet setup and worked great for their needs.

  • this remembers me... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by medea ( 38161 ) * on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @08:35PM (#20934605) Homepage
    ...of a company which built a datacenter in the late nineties into an old swiss army bunker in the swiss alps. they even made a promotional video with the traditional heidi topic.

    you can have a look at it here [hochu.li]. internet-hype at it's finest... :)

    the company (mount10) does not exist anymore but the datacenter still does and is beeing actively used by Swiss Fort Knox [swissfortknox.com]... :)
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @08:38PM (#20934641) Journal
    A friend of mine bought an old missile bunker in the UK to use as a data center back during the late-90s boom. It had redundant power-grid connections, lots of cooling, and raised floors, so it cost a lot less to condition the space for data-center use than if he'd started with a basic warehouse shell like many of his competitors, and it was close enough to London for latency not to be a problem but far enough that the real-estate costs were cheaper.

    U.S. geography isn't always that cooperative - most of the missile bunkers were out in not-even-flyover parts of the country like North Dakota and eastern Montana, where there was almost no telecom infrastructure nearby and it was tens of milliseconds away from SF, NYC, or even Chicago.

    And Canada has their own problems - even though most of the people live within 50 miles of the US border, the Canadian government has been doing things like offering tax incentives to put call centers in remote areas to deal with unemployment - former fishing ports in Prince Edward Island, etc. - where there's not enough local telecom infrastructure to get high bandwidth connections or diverse routes. Too bad, since they've got a pool of educated people who speak good English and something that passes for French and could use the jobs.

  • Re:missile silos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dharmadove ( 1119645 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @08:42PM (#20934675)
    I have done quite a bit of research on using them. I had the idea to use it for hot sites, data storage and other DR related. One of the main problems is environmental. Old Titan II silos are FULL of asbestos and other carcinogens (PCB's). There is a very large cost to cleanup, drain, and refurbish the infrastructure. Much more than the purchase price. I found one in eastern Washington near major fiber optic lines, power and transportation that was ideal (with LOTS of work and $$$). If I had a 10-20+ million for purchase / startup (environmental impact studies, engineering studies, etc.) and good investors I might have had a go at it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @09:16PM (#20934909)
    AT&T Long Lines built a whole lot of these in the 1960's, they are anywhere from 5000 to 100,000 square feet, many of them are buried underground to survive a nuclear strike and they have on-site generators, diesel tanks, water tanks and other infrastructure that was intended to make them self-sufficent in case of all out nuclear war.

    These would be great for a data center since they used to serve the old coaxial trunks and microwave links and new fiber lines are built along the same paths as the old system. Also some of them have microwave towers that could be useful as well (I think there was a Slashdot article on these a few years back...)

  • by Sentri ( 910293 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2007 @09:56PM (#20935245) Homepage
    For the trifling sum of 1.5 million dollars you too can be lairing it up in style...

    "The Missile Base consists of 57 acres of real estate. The center secured portion of the property is protected by the original barbed-wire-topped chainlink fence. There is a paved road leading into the property with dual entry gates.

    Above ground is the original 40 X 100 shop building, two concrete targeting structures, two manufactured homes, two 8 X 8 X 40 storage containers, and the silo tops of the three missile silos, two antenna silos, one entry portal and a few other misc structures.

    Below ground is a huge complex consisting of 16 buildings and thousands of feet of connecting tunnels. The major underground structures are:

    Three - 160' Tall Missile Silos
    Three - 4 story Equipment Terminal Buildings
    Three - Fuel Terminal Buildings
    Two - 6 story Antenna Silos
    One Air Intake/Filtration Building
    One 100' diameter Control Dome Building
    One 125' diameter Power Dome Building
    One - 6 story Entry Portal Building
    and a few other misc buildings and areas."
    - http://www.themissilebase.com/ [themissilebase.com]

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Titan-Missile-Base-Central-Washington_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ1607QQihZ009QQitemZ190132455924QQrdZ1 [ebay.com]

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/10/10 [penny-arcade.com]

    If only I had the money and the crazy and the US citizenship necessary :-p
  • "225 watts of power" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crucini ( 98210 ) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @02:23AM (#20936735)

    To make the best use of the power available, ADC is building what Cohen calls state-of-the-art HVAC systems that can cool in excess of 225 watts of power.

    Sounds like a denominator is missing. Likely candidates are:
    • Square foot and
    • Rack unit.

    Reporters puzzle me. I realize they're not EE's, but don't they have some tenuous linkage to reality? Does 225 watts for an entire data center sound right to a reporter?

    And watts of power are my favorite watts. As opposed to watts of mass, newsprint, or innumeracy.
  • by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @05:45AM (#20937519)
    In the UK there's an outfit called http://www.thebunker.net/ [thebunker.net] - they've bought two old MOD command-and-control nuclear bunkers and fitted them out as datacenters and archives.

    3m thick walls, TEMPEST shielding, fences, dogs, even frickin' EMP protection...

There's no future in time travel.