Behind every awesome technology is a data center. These facilities provide space, connections, and all the accommodations necessary to keep your systems up and running. Once offering little beyond row after boring row of racks and servers, innovation has radically changed the IT hosting environment both inside and out. Check out this introduction to some of the coolest data centers on the scene.
5. Google Finland
When you’re technically balling like Google, you don’t own a single data center – you’ve got a whole network under your belt. From Oregon to Singapore, each facility offers something unique. For example, the Finland data center is known for its cutting edge cooling technology. To optimize energy efficiency, Google cools the facility by recycling the brisk native air from outside and raw sea water from the Finland Bay. The company claims this approach helps reduce energy consumption by 50 percent.
4. Portugal “Cube”
If we’re talking presentation, Portugal Telecom’s new data center may have this thing sewed up. The telecom giant built a square-shaped facility in the heart of the Portuguese mountain ranges amid a spacious moat, which creates the illusion of a giant cube floating on water from afar. Taking up almost 19 acres, the location will eventually accommodate four twin buildings that offer 12,000 meters of space for usage. A strategic location in one of the coldest regions of the country will enable the center to use up to 99 percent free cooling in concert with coolers pumping rain water.
3. NSA – Spycenter USA
Okay, cool may be a stretch, but the Utah Data Center is at least one of the most controversial of its kind. NSA is in control of the ginormous, $1.7 billion facility that houses 20 buildings, enough backup power to run the operation for three days, and exabytes worth of storage capacity. NSA has reassured the public that the location is an intelligence center designed to bolster national security. Those who believe in the conspiracy theory say at least part of its plans involve spying on the American public – hence the recorded phone calls, swiped emails, and other private details it allegedly holds.
2. iCloud Data Center
Need more proof that Apple is going all in with cloud computing? Look no further than the iCloud data center. Located in Maiden in North Carolina, the facility is specially made to power the company’s surging cloud computing service iCloud. Equipped with its own solar farm, Apple is reportedly the only tech giant using 100 percent renewable energy, giving it an environmental edge over competitors such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. The commitment to fueling a greener internet has earned it the title as the most environmentally-friendly data center operator by Greenpeace.
1. “Bond-esque” Bahnhof
If there were ever a James Bond, he would grab his tech from this place. Tucked inside the White Mountains of Stockholm, Sweden, the Bahnhof Data Center was once a bunker built to protect the country from nuclear strikes. Today, it is the home of ISP services and countless servers. The facility is buried 100 feet underground, so it can only be accessed from a tunnel entrance and stepping through a massive metal door that boasts more than a foot in thickness. In addition to IT equipment, Bahnhof features artificial water fountains, greenhouses, and two submarines that act as backup generators.
Gartner estimates that enterprise data capacities will increase by more than a whopping 800 percent over the next four years. For the sake of happy customers, data center operators will be challenged in creating IT environments that enable organizations to support this massive growth. There are still strides that need to be made on the energy efficiency front, but all signs indicate that industry innovation is on the right path.
Top photo Credit: Charleston’s TheDigitel via Flickr