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Water Tank Just the Latest in Unique Data Center Design

by on October 27, 2010

Increased interest in greening data centers have led some organizations down some unusual paths. One such path was followed by the city of Altamonte Springs, Fla. when it decided to build its data center in an abandoned water tank. The dome-shaped tank, which once held 770,000 gallons of water, was chosen for its ability to protect the center from hurricanes–its concrete walls are eight inches thick–and proximity to city hall.

When the city, population 45,000, moved into the tank, it also made IT improvements that improved its network up times and disaster recovery platform. Before setting up shop inside the water dome, down times of up four days a month were common for the system.

Disaster recovery was, well, a disaster. On his first day on the job, the current IT director for the city was told all the data on the system had been lost. He had to rebuild the system’s data from old backup tapes stored in cartons. What’s more, when the central Florida city was threatened by hurricanes, all its IT equipment had to be taken offline and packed in secure storage to protect it from potential water damage. That meant that at the time it was most needed, the municipality’s emergency operations center had to be shut down because all the Internet support infrastructure had been dismantled.

That changed when the city’s data center moved into the tank. Two SANs were installed. One at the data center and a second that mirrored it at an offsite disaster recovery site. Tape was scrapped and backups were kept live for 30 days, then written to optical media. Cabling was improved with the use of dark fiber.

Altamonte’s offbeat solution to its data center problems is part of a trend among organizations strapped for cash these days. “Everyone’s looking to find newer, greener ways of building data centers and looking at the natural landscape to do that,” Enterprise Storage Group analyst Bob Laiberte told Computerworld.

And this is just the latest in some very unusual data center designs that have cropped up in recent years.

In Stockholm, Sweden, Internet service provider Bahnhof has set up shop 100 feet below the surface in an old military bunker built to withstand the blast of a hydrogen bomb. Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung said he styled his data center after the many unsual villian lairs of the James Bond films.

Microsoft_container_datacenter Microsoft created a data center in Chicago made entirely out of shipping containers. This efficient use of space that the shipping containers provides gave Microsoft 11x times more room than a conventional data center in the same space.

QC_silo_scaled Sun Microsystems helped CLUMEQ (Consortium Laval, Université du Québec, McGill and Eastern Quebec) build a data center in a silo that used to house a particle accelerator.

Iron_mountain Iron Mountain created an extremely energy-efficent data center located 22 stories underground in an abandoned, “nuke-proof” limestone mine.

800px-Orthodox_cathedral_Helsinki And a data center built by the Finnish IT company Academica in a bomb shelter under the 19th-century Orthodox Uspenski Cathedra lin Finland, will not only safeguard data, but it will also heat local homes. The water used to cool the servers will be recycled and used to warm up to 500 homes or 1000 flats. The water is then returned to cool the data center, creating a continuous, environmentally successful cycle.

One Comment
  1. 770k gallons sure is big. I’m glad that everything has improved. Maybe you can show us pictures of this dome-shaped tank you’re talking about.

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