Software // Information Management
Commentary
12/30/2008
07:30 PM
Roger Smith
Roger Smith
Commentary
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Beating Swords Into Data Centers

Since my previous post about Canadian startup Bastionhost's hosting plan for an underground bunker in Nova Scotia, I've been investigating a number of former nuclear fallout shelters that have been converted into data centers.

Since my previous post about Canadian startup Bastionhost's hosting plan for an underground bunker in Nova Scotia, I've been investigating a number of former nuclear fallout shelters that have been converted into data centers.These include the InfoBunker, a 65,000-square-foot ultrasecure underground data center in Iowa, built in a decommissioned Air Force bunker, which extends five stories below ground, with multiple data floors, employee areas, and living quarters. InfoBunker boasts secure N+1 rack co-location (where multiple components [N] have at least one independent backup component to ensure system functionality continues in the event of a system failure) that starts at $850 a month. Built to survive a nuclear exchange in excess of three months, totally cut off from the outside world, and to function at full capacity, the Department of Defense's '60s-era design standard called for a facility that was able to survive a "Maximum Probable Event" (such as 20-megaton nuclear blast at 2.5 miles). As blogger Brian Tiemann (who visited the facility) opined, "Your data will be intact even if the rest of the Internet has been vaporized."

The Bunker is a 10-year-old ultrasecure co-location facility built in a former nuclear bunker in Kent, England. The 18-acre site is surrounded by a 3-meter-high barbed-wire perimeter fence. The underground data center is an ex-Ministry of Defense nuclear bunker encased in 3-meter-thick reinforced concrete walls. The only entrance is through a security check point, protected by bulletproof glass and electronic barriers. In addition to this physical security, The Bunker has an onsite security team made up of ex-military and police supported by guard dogs who patrol the facility 24/7/365.

Although The Bunker provides a variety of hosting platforms, it's especially enthusiastic about open source software: The company's director of security, Ben Laurie, was the creator of Apache-SSL.

Far and away, the most tricked-out converted nuclear bunker is the Pionen data center located 30 meters below the bedrock of Stockholm, Sweden. Bahnhof, one of Sweden's largest ISPs, created a facility that's a marvel of high-tech design with features like waterfalls, greenhouses, German submarine backup engines, and simulated daylight, not to mention a huge 2,600-liter saltwater fish tank.

Pionen conference room suspended above server hall

Pionen conference room suspended above server hall.
Photos courtesy of Albert France-Lanord Architects

In an interview with Pingdon, Bahnhof's CEO, Jon Karlung, explained the motivation behind Pionen.

View of servers from conference room

View of servers from conference room.
Photos courtesy of Albert France-Lanord Architects

"Since we got hold of this unique nuclear bunker in central Stockholm deep below the rock, we just couldn't build it like a traditional -- more boring -- hosting center," he said. "We wanted to make something different. The place itself needed something far out in design and science fiction was the natural source of inspiration in this case -- plus of course some solid experience from having been a hosting provider for more than a decade."

Regarding the visual inspiration for the facility, he said, "I'm personally a big fan of old science fiction movies. Especially ones from the '70s like Logan's Run, Silent Running, Star Wars (especially The Empire Strikes Back) so these were an influence," Karlung said. "James Bond movies have also had an impact on the design."

Karlung admitted that he had actually looked for the same outfit as the villain "Blofeld" featured in several Bond movies and had even considered getting a white cat, but came to the conclusion that might be going a bit far.

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When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
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