The Green Gorilla

Operation Underground

By: Angela Weight

Thinking of taking your company’s data center operations underground? Considering the shrinking availability of above ground facility space, lack of funding and the threat of natural disasters, locating in an abandoned military bunker or limestone cave, isn’t such an absurd idea. In fact, it’s becoming a realistic option for a growing number of businesses.

Companies like Continental Airlines, Sun Microsystems and Marriott International are already resting a little easier knowing that their data centers are protected from nature, nuclear attacks, electronic eavesdropping, and a handful of other threats that make IT guys shudder.

Going Green 100 Feet Down

If you’re planning a move to a more environmentally friendly facility consider this:

–     Transforming a decommissioned bunker or limestone cave into a data center is the ultimate example of recycling. Rather than breaking ground on new construction, a growing list of companies have made the eco-wise decision to utilize what’s already been provided by Mother Nature and the military.

–    Many underground facilities take advantage of renewable wind energy to power their operations.

–  Subterranean air quality is usually very good, with stable temperatures for more reliable, natural cooling.

Skeptics argue that housing data centers in Cold War-era bunkers doesn’t make a lot of sense. Their cooling systems are usually quite outdated and designed for people, not high density servers. This could call for some extreme underground remodeling. Another drawback is ceiling height, sometimes as low as 10 ft, making rack placement a tight squeeze.

However, anyone who’s lived through the nightmare of having their company’s mission- critical operations jeopardized by Mother Nature’s wrath or compromised security, would appreciate the top notch protection these facilities tend to afford. Some are literally nuclear blast resistant (if it ever comes to that).

Five Notable Underground Data Center Facilities

If you’re shopping for a new data center site and finding available space in short supply, check out one of these subterranean real estate offerings.

Prairie Bunkers Data Center Park, near Hastings, Nebraska, has 760 acres of military grade reinforced concrete bunkers and offers abundant fiber optic connectivity. According to their Web site, prairiebunkers.com, the facility boasts high sustainability and energy efficiency by reusing existing structures and utilizing geothermal cooling. Located outside of earthquake, forest fire, flood and hurricane zones with tornado proof walls, Prairie Bunkers provides clients with data protection that’s nearly natural disaster proof.

Iron Mountain, a western Pennsylvania limestone mine, is perhaps the oldest and most well-known underground data center and electronic storage provider. With 60,000 square feet of usable space and another 145 acres to be developed, this 220 foot below ground facility houses Marriott International’s data center and a handful of others. Amenities include a 24-hour security system, water treatment plant and fire company.

The Bunker, near Dover, England, is a ten-year-old, 50,000 square foot colocation facility housed in former nuclear bunkers used by the Royal Air Force. The top-security complex is equipped with two-ton steel doors, three meter thick walls, CCTV, round the clock surveillance and even vicious guard dogs.

The InfoBunker, not far from Des Moines, Iowa, houses a 65,000 square foot data center facility in a Cold War-era underground military bunker. If the subterranean location doesn’t offer enough security in and of itself, the InfoBunker is made of three foot thick concrete walls designed to survive a 20-megaton nuclear blast from over two miles away. Now, that’s peace of mind!

Cavern Technologies, outside Kansas City, Missouri, is situated 125 feet underground, in a three million square foot abandoned limestone mine. They boast a 67 degree year round temperature, which equals 20 to 30 percent savings on yearly cooling costs for their clients. In addition to spacious suites built out to individual specifications, the Cavern facility offers low electricity costs, biometric security and high level fire protection.

If your company is looking to relocate its data center to a bunker or cave, let SilverBack move your operations underground.

Partner Profile – Technology Management, Inc. 

Technology Management, Inc. is a “best in class” provider of turnkey project management, design, and construction services for data center mission critical facilities.  We are a client focused and facilities solutions driven organization.

With ever increasing information and systems requirements, on-going organizational and facility priorities and budget pressures, businesses today demand reliable and high availability mission critical facilities to support their operations. Technology Management, Inc. provides the expertise and experience required to consistently and seamlessly deliver reliable, flexible and secure mission critical facilities. Our project management and suite of professional consulting services are tailored to fit our customers’ unique business and facilities requirements. Our business practices are solely focused on data centers and our team consistently offers practical, cost effective and strategic solutions.

Technology Management, Inc. has successfully led and managed the development of over six million square feet of mission critical space, including facilities ranging in size from 200 square feet to 300,000 square feet. We have completed projects throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. For our clients that require design continuity in their global facilities Technology Management has completed consulting and project engagements throughout the world.

The Technology Management, Inc. professional staff includes senior level personnel; each averaging 15-20 years in the IT mission critical facilities industry. We have recruited, built and organized highly qualified teams of architects, engineers, and contractors for our client’s projects. We are careful and selective; our team members and business partners not only possess extensive previous project experience with us but also have proven themselves among the best in the mission critical facilities industry. Our project management engagements include the design/build of single or multiple sites including national roll-outs of multiple facilities.

We have built strong and lasting relationships across the years. Recent clients include Kellogg’s, OfficeMax, Meijer, Aflac and many others across all industries. Our website, www.tmiamerica.com, will acquaint you with our organization, capabilities and experience.

Leave a comment, pretty please...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s