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Data Storage Network Networking

Former NATO Nuclear Bunker Now an 'Airless' Unmanned Data Center 148

An anonymous reader writes A German company has converted a 1960s nuclear bunker 100 miles from network hub Frankfurt into a state-of-the-art underground data center with very few operators and very little oxygen. IT Vision Technology (ITVT) CEO Jochen Klipfel says: 'We developed a solution that reduces the oxygen content in the air, so that even matches go outIt took us two years'. ITVT have the European Air Force among its customers, so security is an even higher priority than in the average DC build; the refurbished bunker has walls 11 feet thick and the central complex is buried twenty feet under the earth.
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Former NATO Nuclear Bunker Now an 'Airless' Unmanned Data Center

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  • by Isarian ( 929683 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @12:36PM (#48932613)

    Do staff go down with O2 tanks for maintenance, cleaning, server work, etc?

    • by kogut ( 1133781 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @12:39PM (#48932639)

      Hopefully the "low staff" was intentional, and not a side effect.

    • by MrKevvy ( 85565 )

      'We developed a solution that reduces the oxygen content in the air, so that even matches go outIt took us two years'."

      This sentence may have been written in there.

      • 'We developed a solution that reduces the oxygen content in the air, so that even matches go outIt took us two years'."

        This sentence may have been written in there.

        No, it's just consequence of /.'s old lack of compliance with Unicode and disregard of the mandatory space after punctuation in the source. So when the pasted text was rendered, the ellipsis was suppressed nothing was left between the words "out" and "It".

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      Same as how upkeep is done in submarines. They also have very low oxygen, but enough for a person not to die. Of course, there are side effects... your thinking is slower, and wounds take a lot longer to heal, but it does work, and the low O2 in the air does keep fires from spreading.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @01:05PM (#48932885) Journal

      Do staff go down with O2 tanks for maintenance, cleaning, server work, etc?

      Easy problem. They just hired some Perl divers to do admin. Those guys can hold their breath for an impressive amount of time and are comfortable with CLI use, natural fit.

    • How common are datacenter fires? The last time I heard about a computer catching fire was more than 20 years ago, and the fire was minor and didn't spread to adjacent equipment. They seem to be putting a lot of effort and expense into solving a "problem" that has already be adequately solved.

      Other than fire suppression, is there any other practical advantage to locating a datacenter underground?

       

      • My cynical suspicion is that have a datacenter in an underground oxygen-purged bunker is something you cost-justify under 'disaster recovery' or similar; but actually do because of a vague, gnawing, ill-defined dissatisfaction with the fact that your life is basically as safe as it is tedious. The same sort of thing as why really boring federal agencies build huge SCIFs and random suburbanites lovingly shop for tacticool accessories to cram onto their AR-15.

        That aside, I assume that they got it for peanu
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        How common are datacenter fires? The last time I heard about a computer catching fire was more than 20 years ago, and the fire was minor and didn't spread to adjacent equipment.

        I suspect the battery stacks, generator fuel, or high current wiring for delivering electricity would be some points of greatest risk.

        Theft is not that common in above ground datacenters, either; the facilities are serious about physical security. It is probably due to the same reason the facility is underground in the first pl

      • by TimSSG ( 1068536 )

        How common are datacenter fires? The last time I heard about a computer catching fire was more than 20 years ago, and the fire was minor and didn't spread to adjacent equipment. They seem to be putting a lot of effort and expense into solving a "problem" that has already be adequately solved.

        Other than fire suppression, is there any other practical advantage to locating a datacenter underground?

        I would guess that they could NOT figure out a cheap and safe way to supply good air to breath down that deep. So, they decided to go low oxygen environment. Tim S.

      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        Other than fire suppression, is there any other practical advantage to locating a datacenter underground?

        Surface natural disasters wouldn't have an impact. So you don't need to worry about storms, wind, hurricanes, tornados, etc. Terrorism, explosions, etc also are minimized, at least from outside sources. Physical security is also improved. Cooling may be easier depending on how it's constructed to utilize more consistent temperatures...but that could also work against you if you don't have enough coolin

        • So you don't need to worry about storms, wind, hurricanes, tornados, etc.

          But you need to worry more about floods or earthquakes.

          • Simple rain could be an issue too. Most mines have to be actively pumped to keep up with water seepage, I cannot imagine how this would not be an issue in a bunker.

            • Bunkers embedded in hills are naturally flood resistant. :) Germany isn't reknowned for its earthquakes.

      • Fire in a Bitcoin mine...

        http://www.coindesk.com/galler... [coindesk.com]

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Do staff go down with O2 tanks for maintenance, cleaning, server work, etc?

      No, just red shirts.

    • Not really an issue. Humans are fine in low-oxygen environments - so long as they don't go running around too much. Think how high mountaineers have to go before resorting to the tanks,

      • I should clarify that low oxygen percentage isn't the important part - it's low partial-pressure of oxygen. Reduced-oxygen at atmosphere, or atmospheric composition at reduced pressure, or even low-oxygen at high pressure (Diving on trimix) or high-oxygen at low-pressure (Spacesuits). It's all the same.

    • Do staff go down with O2 tanks for maintenance, cleaning, server work, etc?

      Agreed. And don't forget to include the Facility Infrastructure (UPS, Transfer Switches, Switchgear, etc). To that point, I wonder how their generators function with no oxygen. Kinda hard to ignite diesel with no oxygen, just sayin'.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      I'll commit slashdot heresy by quoting the first paragraph of the actual article instead of knee-jerk imagination usage.

      The technological core of the new Erwin bunker has been designed to run autonomously, and outside of maintenance times the servers deep beneath the earth will operate in a low-oxygen environment to reduce the risk of fire.

  • by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @12:44PM (#48932683)
    Kind of an inaccurate headline. "Airless" makes it sound like a vacuum...which would naturally make air cooling impossible.
    • What about a liquid filling the room?

    • I suppose technically, if there is very little oxygen, it's not air anymore, just a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide gasses.

  • They still haven't changed the default password of '321654'.

  • I am impressed (Score:2, Informative)

    by Stachel ( 718095 )

    I had to look up this European Air Force. Turns out they've existed longer than I thought! From http://www.europeanaf.net/ [europeanaf.net]:

    The European Air Force has now reached its teens!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2015 @12:51PM (#48932737)

    There's no such thing!!!

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @12:55PM (#48932771)

    "...security is an even higher priority than in the average DC build; the refurbished bunker has walls 11 feet thick and the central complex is buried twenty feet under the earth."

    Uh, the average DC build isn't done under the threat of nuclear attack and surviving the aftermath.

    Don't make it sound like the customers of this data center demanded 11-foot thick walls, or that any DC design would.

    Those physical benefits are merely a side-effect of an era we would like to forget about.

  • Haha. This is essentially impossible.
    The more equipment, the more broken equipment, the more techs need to go in to work on it.
    An airless data center would have to be a very small data center, because if someone has to go in and fix something, well, they are gonna need oxygen.
    • im sure firemen and scuba divers might be able to help with that....
      • im sure firemen and scuba divers might be able to help with that....

        Not really. Can you imagine repairing a Dell server with scuba tanks and all that?
        It's not that it couldn't be done, of course it could. But it would be much too costly.

    • Haha. This is essentially impossible. The more equipment, the more broken equipment, the more techs need to go in to work on it. An airless data center would have to be a very small data center, because if someone has to go in and fix something, well, they are gonna need oxygen.

      So, all those transatlantic communications cables...I suppose those are all just a myth because we humans would never logistically put something that could break below thousands of feet of water.

      Don't even get me started on the logistics behind putting shit in space. We'll need to call Spock for that logic showdown.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        They do but then they take a big expensive ship find the cable and bring it to the surface to fix it.
        The real issue is not if it is possible because it is possible. The big question is if it is worth it?
        Removing all the 02 mean no fires and reduced corrosion.
        It also means more cost for fixing thing that go wrong.
        The simplest way to do this would be to flood the bunker with Argon since it heavier than O2 and N2 it should displace the O2 but again the question would be why?

      • Don't even get me started on the logistics behind putting shit in space. We'll need to call Spock for that logic showdown.

        And the cost is such that only one time, the Hubble Space Telescope, were repairs done to an unmanned orbiting object. Because of cost.
        It cost hundreds of millions of dollars to fix that thing.
        Cost is important to business. You cannot ignore it, if you do you often find you are making no money at all.
        It happens all the time.

      • Well it's not the middle of the cables that fail...it's the darn ends of the things where they're constantly being plugged/unplugged that fail...
    • Could be filled with a liquid and maintenance made by scuba divers.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @01:03PM (#48932857) Journal
    I wonder what constraints were placed on the problem that made "displace the oxygen in this sealed bunker" a two-year problem? Maybe it's a quote taken out of context and refers to how long the entire environmental control setup took?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ITVT have the European Air Force

    ok, so a fictional agency that replaces a number of real ones?

  • by gnunick ( 701343 ) on Thursday January 29, 2015 @01:06PM (#48932893) Homepage
    Why does a "group of over 30 players from all over Europe" care about heightened security, and how could they even afford hosting in such a datacenter?

    The [European Air Force] was founded in 16th December 1998 by Serval and some other flight sim players from the Netherlands.

    http://www.europeanaf.net/ [europeanaf.net]

    • I bet the 'Confederate Air Force' would have air superiority in a fight. Their planes are demilled but at least they have planes.

      • by gnunick ( 701343 )
        Ha, good point! But then again, does the CAF ever actually practice aerial combat in those vintage planes? I doubt it. I'll bet the EAF could virtually fly circles around them.
  • So this is the customer who requested this study: Proposed Disk Array With 99.999% Availablity For 4 Years, Sans Maintenance
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

    It makes sense now.

  • ITVT have the European Air Force among its customers.

    Air Force? Europe? Why didn't the French use it to get to Africa instead of bumming rides on US transports?

  • All those basement dwellers evicted for this data center are struggling in the big blue room with the yellow light and being mistaken for zombies.
  • Hypoxic air technology for fire prevention

    Hypoxic air technology for fire prevention, also known as oxygen reduction system, is an active fire protection technique based on a permanent reduction of the oxygen concentration in the protected rooms. Unlike traditional fire suppression systems that usually extinguish fire after it is detected, hypoxic air is able to prevent fire.

    Design and operation

    Air with a reduced oxygen content is injected to the protected volumes to lower the oxygen concentration until the

  • the refurbished bunker has walls 11 feet thick and the central complex is buried twenty feet under the earth.

    Finally my World of Warcraft characters will be safe!

  • I don't see any cooling towers in the picture- are they hosted remotely or perhaps using some kind of heat sink to the ground?

  • by thunderclap ( 972782 ) on Friday January 30, 2015 @01:10AM (#48937565)
    Now we know where the new Pirate bay servers are. And I look forward to the MPAA and police trying to seize these.

The computer is to the information industry roughly what the central power station is to the electrical industry. -- Peter Drucker

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