7 Crazy Cool Data Centers

Some data centers are built in modern buildings, and some are in old paper mills or Cold War defense bunkers.

Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading

February 9, 2015

8 Slides

All data centers share a few commonalities: They generate massive amounts of heat while draining equally large amounts of energy. However, some businesses are getting creative with how and where they store data.

Data centers are more than just massive facilities packed with overheating servers and air conditioners. Most contain the best hardware and software available in modern technology, with the capacity to send and receive millions of pieces of data per second, which is especially important as cloud computing matures and more companies invest in moving apps and data to the cloud.

As more businesses begin to invest in cloud capabilities, the use of data centers becomes less of an option and more of a priority. Small and midsize businesses are especially exhibiting a strong growing interest in new forms of data storage.

"As SMBs take steps to enhance their IT infrastructure, the availability of advanced storage resources has been an important part of their thinking," said Ray Boggs, VP for IDC's small and medium business research, in a recent report. "Cloud storage in particular has been a growing part of portfolio of storage technology that SMBs have been using and plan to expand in the future."

[IT Stereotypes: Time to Change]

The major trends driving the design and development of data centers have been subject to change over time. Now, with skyrocketing energy costs and increased attention on sustainability, companies of all sizes have begun to revamp their strategies in order to cut back on how much energy their facilities consume.

Most modern data centers are designed for power efficiency, as increasingly larger facilities try to consume less, and more natural, forms of energy. Many of the world's largest data hosts are trying to maximize their use of air and water that's naturally cool enough to balance the heat generated by their many servers. This goal has motivated plenty of service providers to build their data centers in colder climates.

Some businesses have gotten more creative with their environmental strategies. At its data center in Frankfurt, Germany, Citigroup has a "green" roof made of living plants that help cool the building and reduce runoff. It also uses reverse osmosis as a means of decreasing sediment build-up in its cooling towers, which saves 13 million gallons of water per year, reports CIO.com.

In an interesting twist on sustainability, businesses large and small have begun to store their data in repurposed old buildings. Many structures, such as Google's Finland-based data center, located in an old paper mill, already have sufficient space to house thousands of machines.

In terms of design and location, there are a few data centers that stand out from the pack based on their geographic placement, architectural innovation, massive size, and environmentally friendly strategy. Let's take a look at some of the most intriguing facilities.

About the Author(s)

Kelly Sheridan

Staff Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial services. Sheridan earned her BA in English at Villanova University. You can follow her on Twitter @kellymsheridan.

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