Iron Mountain Data Centers

Storage facility 220 feet underground gives agencies another data center option

Government agencies looking to outsource the ongoing management of their data centers now have another option. Iron Mountain, a storage and information management company, has opened the doors of its storage facility 220 feet below ground in Boyers, Pa., for agencies and other enterprises seeking a secure, multitenant data center environment.

Iron Mountain officials have leased out space in the company’s underground facility to a select group of enterprise and government organizations over the last decade. Now, the company is offering Iron Mountain Data Centers, a portfolio of services for data migration, networking, tape handling and the recycling or repurposing of decommissioned data center assets. This means agencies can outsource the complete management of their data centers, company officials said.

Organizations have two options for data center space in Boyers. Iron Mountain Wholesale Data Centers provides a dedicated, secure space for all or part of an organization’s data center operations, offering services that include engineering and design, development and construction and ongoing facility operations and management. For organizations that need less space, Iron Mountain’s Retail Colocation solution provides a shared environment with scalable space and reliable power and cooling, officials said.

Iron Mountain’s underground data center in Boyers is located in a former limestone mine 220 feet below ground, with ambient temperatures in the mid-50s. The facility operates on efficient geothermal cooling and has natural protection from extreme weather, officials said. More than 2,700 employees work in an underground city spread across 145 acres. The facility has its own restaurant, fire trucks, water treatment plant and a week’s worth of back-up power. Iron Mountain officials also are exploring the possibility of offering additional data center locations in key markets on existing company-owned land.

Several government organizations and companies have leased space in the Iron Mountain underground facility. Since 2008, Marriott International has leased 12,500 square feet for a data center for disaster recovery purposes.

“The days of evaluating data center providers based primarily on space are long behind us,” Michelle Bailey, vice president of data center initiatives and digital infrastructure with 451 Research, said in a statement.  Services for disaster recovery, security and compliance are essential to satisfy business requirements, particularly in highly regulated vertical markets such as financial services, government and healthcare, Bailey said.

Putting data centers in underground bunkers could be a wave of the future, as cities run out of building space or look to secure critical information from disasters or other threats. Several cities worldwide are either exploring the possibility of putting data centers in secure, underground bunkers or have already done so.  Hong Kong, for example, has almost reached its upper-limit for growing skyward. As a result, officials might dig out rock caves under the city and build new data centers underground.  Meanwhile, Swedish IPS Bahnhof converted a military bunker below central Stockholm into a state-of-the-art data center back in 2008.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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