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Bahnhof underground high security computer facility right in Stockholm Sweden

Going underground: Will data centers become data bunkers?

Hong Kong is one of the most vertical cities in the world. Like many cities, when it ran out of space, it simply built up instead of out.

But Hong Kong has almost reached its upper-limit for going skyward. And as a financial capital of the world with an incredibly dense population, space is at a premium. That means that large dedicated computing areas, like data centers, have to compete for space with everything else, even though they are in great demand.

The solution for Hong Kong might be to stop building skyward and to start looking under its feet. Data Center Knowledge recently reported that Hong Kong may  dig out rock caves under the city and build new data centers down there. Apparently putting a data center in a deep cave isn't such a bad idea because the naturally cooler below-ground air could help maintain temperatures as long as the cave is properly ventilated.

The biggest problem with the underground concept is likely to be price. It was estimated in the Hong Kong scenario that digging out a tunnel for a data center would cost up to $600,000 per meter. That makes for an expensive project that all but the most profitable data centers would be hard pressed to ever overcome.

But there may be other advantages to building underground. Apparently other underground data center projects are in the works, or even  have been completed in other places, using decommissioned military bunkers as their base of operations. Swedish IPS Bahnhof converted a bunker below central Stockholm into a state-of-the-art data center back in 2008.

The main advantage to using a military bunker, besides the fact that it's already been dug out, is that they were built to survive a nuclear war. Governments looking for the ultimate level of security may want to consider it.

Even with the structure already in place, it will still be expensive to store data in a nuclear-proof  bunkers. Probably credit card companies will take advantage of it. So you can rest easy knowing that in the event of a nuclear war, both cockroaches and your MasterCard bill will survive.

Posted by John Breeden II on Apr 01, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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