The drive to build data centers underground arises from fears about natural disasters, terrorism and security intrusions. Underground data centers offer a number of advantages for organizations needing maximum data security. The entry points into an underground data center are easy to monitor and guard. These points could be almost invisible to the untrained eye and many will never know what the underground facility is used for. There is potentially unlimited space available for these facilities to be built out, since most underground data shelters are built in retired mines and limestone caves. Climate control is very easy underground because temperatures in caves systems essentially stay at a constant, cool temperature.
There are at hundreds of underground data centers in the United States. Many of the underground data centers are owned by private co-location companies. Some are shared locations housing the data centers operations of several private companies who have collocated space underground.
One of the largest underground data centers is owned by Iron Mountain. The facility is located in Butler County, Pennsylvania; 220 feet below the limestone rock surface in a former mine. Security services provided by the facility include magnetometry, x-ray scanners, closed circuit TV, badge access, and 24 hour guard. Iron Mountain’s data center holds 7 million gigabytes of digital data, emails, backup files, digital medical images and medical records. The facility stays cools due to the constant 52 degree temperature underground. There is also an underground lake that is used to help cool the data center. All of Iron Mountain’s critical redundancy apparatus is located underground so that the datacenters can continue running should an event occur above ground.
InfoBunker is located fifty feet underground in a former military communications bunker near Des Moines, Iowa. It houses 65,000 square feet of data center space used by insurance companies, telephone companies, teaching hospitals, financial services, e-commerce, security monitoring services, and county government. InfoBunker also hosts 2 backup data centers.
Cavern Technologies is located in a former mine under 125 feet of limestone. Cavern’s website mentions that it has over 300,000 square feet of underground data center space available. The facility holds data from health care, insurance, universities and technology companies. Manufacturing and professional service companies have also begun using this facility. Security is maintained by guards, biometric scanning, and smart card access. The data center is air cooled with all climate control systems underground. Redundancy equipment for this datacenter is also located underground.
Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Google Plus, Twitter @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.