Let’s be honest, when you think of a data center, “cool” is probably not one of the first words you might use to describe it. “Cloud computing,” “flexible capacity,” or “carbon footprint” are used a lot more commonly along with a multitude of numbers to refer to the total square footage, server racks, power usage, or miles of cable that a data center uses.
However, some data centers are, in fact, “cool,” and below are some of the coolest in the world (and no, we’re not talking about data centers that are less prone to overheating). Many of these look cool while some have cool features – and others are just plain cool, thus dispelling the myth that data centers are essentially all business with no style. Let’s take a look:
Iron Mountain Data Center (Butler County, PA)
This “experimental” data center room was built into a limestone mine. It cools equipment directly into the limestone itself, which can absorb 1.5 BTUs per square foot. Because of this, the room uses no cooled raised flooring and it directs heat through ceiling panels and blows it across the roof of the shafts to cool. The facility also uses water from an underground lake to cool. Ultimately, the goal is to determine the site’s geothermal properties and take advantage of them to save on costs (cio.com).
Deltalis Radixcloud Data Center (Attinghausen, Switzerland)
Serving as the former command and control center for the Swiss Air Force, this particular data center is very secure, ensured by the fact that it is tucked deep into the Alps. Due to its location, it takes advantage of cool air and glacial waters to cool the facility at a low cost (networkworld.com).
Barcelona Supercomputing Center (Barcelona, Spain)
The former Torre Girona Chapel on the campus of the Technical University of Catalonia is the home of the school’s supercomputer called MareNostrum. This supercomputer is housed in a glass room and sits inside the chapel, which was built in the 1920s. The school needed a facility it could quickly convert to a home for the supercomputer and the chapel was chosen because of its location on campus. Its location within the religious setting along with the subdued lighting make for an impressive visual experience (networkworld.com).
Bahnhof Modular Data Center (Kista, Sweden)
The Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof leases traditional data center space from a variety of locations. However, the company has recently built a modular facility made of a central, inflatable hub that can connect to three portable armored-steel rooms that house data center hardware. The inflatable hub serves as an office as well as a space for unpacking gear headed for the hardware rooms. The company says that the modular nature of the facility means that it doesn’t require a huge initial investment and also means that it can grow as demand grows (networkworld.com).
Lakeside Technology Center (Chicago, Illinois)
Built in what was formerly the printing facility for the Sears catalogue, the building has been converted to a 1.1 million square foot data center called the Lakeside Technology Center. The reinforced floors, tall ceilings, and high-capacity air ducts needed to accommodate printing presses proved quite ideal for data center equipment and cooling needs as well. Now a telecom hotel leased to Equinix and Global Center, the facility has room for 210,000 computer servers and stores approximately 300,000 gallons of fuel for backup generators (cio.com).
Citi Data Center (Frankfurt, Germany)
The facility uses fresh air for cooling, reverse osmosis to reduce sediment build-up in cooling towers, and saves approximately 13 million gallons of water per year doing so. This data center also uses virtualization to reduce the number of physical servers needed. The Citi Data Center boasts a green roof made up of living plants that help reduce runoff from the building and to keep it cool. Like the roof, the green wall shown above is also made up of living plants that don’t necessarily improve the efficiency of the center, but helps to promote biodiversity at the site (cio.com).
Pionen Data Center (Stockholm, Sweden)
The Pionen Data Center is located in a Cold War-era defense bunker. One of its coolest traits is that it could literally take a hit from an H-bomb and still keep ticking. This facility uses some of the most advanced and sophisticated military technology on the planet and powers its back-up generators with dual-submarine engines. To make the working day more bearable in essentially a granite cave 100 feet below the streets of Stockholm, the facility has greenhouses, an artificial waterfall, and a 686-gallon salt-water fish tank (cio.com).