Unusual Data Center Locations? Mines and Floating Barges

24 Sep 2015 by Datacenters.com Technology

"The days of data centers being located in traditional high-rise buildings or expansive, single-story structures are over. Now, providers are getting a little more creative with where they decide to construct their data centers, with facilities being created inside caves, abandoned mines and floating on large bodies of water.

Norway mine turned data center
In late August, ZDNet reported that a former mine in Norway will serve as a spacious location for the new Lefdal Mine Data Center. The mine, abandoned years ago, is situated by a fjord on the northwest coast of the country. The first pieces of equipment were moved in at this time, with the first customers occupying space in August 2016.

Once completed, the mine-turned-data-center will provide more than 1,200,000 square feet of space and will be Tier III certified. The expansive structure contains multiple levels laid out in a grid pattern, all connected through a spiral access road to allow for two-way trailer traffic. Each level also includes large galleries which eventually house clients' data centers. There are 75 galleries throughout the facility of varying sizes.

The project will make use of the mine's service tunnels, which will contain water-coolant pipes, power and communication lines. The facility will utilize a modular design for each client space, with plug-and-play containers for quick, seamless deployment. However, the space will also allow for the more traditional data center builds, including data halls, rooms and floors, depending on customers' preferences.

The unique location also allows for sustainable practices, including using fjord seawater for cooling purposes. Because the mine is below sea level, this will negate the need for pumps and boost the efficiency of the overall cooling process.

The first phase of this build will provide 30 MW of capacity, with a full total of 200 MW once the facility is completely populated. This makes it one of the largest data centers today, bigger even than Facebook's 120 MW data center in Sweden.

Floating data center
In 2013, experts began to speculate about a strange barge floating in the San Francisco Bay. Experts noted that the floating structure could possibly house a data center belonging to Google, CNET reported. It was discovered that the search engine giant was awarded a 2009 patent for a floating computing structure, and one expert noted that a barge could be an ideal data center location thanks to inexpensive power and access to water for cooling. While Google's floating data center project never came to fruition, it did raise eyebrows in the technology industry.

Now, startup Nautilus Data Technologies has taken this idea and run with it, according to Data Center Knowledge. In sharp contrast with Google's mysterious floating data center projects, the company is being open about its plans to build several floating data centers from which to offer its services.

Nautilus has already established a successful proof-of-concept and is currently working to construct four, 2 MW data halls on a 250-foot barge currently docked near the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California.

This is surely a project to watch, as it could open a whole host of new possibilities for data centers."


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