5 Crazy But Clever Places to Put Data Centers


Photo via Jay Woodworth via Flickr CC

Data centers suck up a lot of energy, so it pays to put servers in places that can keep them cool and running efficiently. While some companies are choosing to make what they have work better, others are thinking location, location, location. And when it comes to hunting out ideal locations, well, the sky is the limit. Lately we've seen data centers installed in some really random places - but while unusual, they're smart uses of space. Here are five just such brilliantly oddball locations.

1. Shipping Containers
Being small and mobile is a big part of creating efficient data centers that can be used anywhere, and even smarter is using existing structures. Used shipping containers make a perfect home for data centers, and Microsoft is taking advantage. Containers of servers can be added or moved as needed, and outside air cooling keeps them efficient.

2. 300-Million-Year-Old Caves
Specifically, limestone caves. One in western Pennsylvania is home to an ultra efficient data center. The limestone can naturally absorb 1.5 BTUs per square foot - and vents attached to ceiling ducts also push head up to the ceiling where the limestone absorbs the heat with ease, cutting the energy requirements of the center by 10 to 15%.

3. Nuclear Bunkers
Talk about data security! Old nuclear bunkers are a brilliant place for a data center, as proven by one such bunker converted to a highly efficient data center in Sweden. It looks like the bat cave, and the efficient cooling capabilities of the structure along with the region's cooler temperatures means the center can be naturally cooled for the majority of the year.

4. On The Ocean
Google has gotten itself a patent to build an off-shore data center. Seems crazy to put electronics like that out on water, but in fact, it's a clever idea. The ocean water will work to cool the servers, while wave-generated electricity provides a power source. Other than coming in to dock during storms, the ship-turned-data-center could sail 3 to 7 miles off shore, or wherever it is needed.

5. Cathedrals
IT geeks think data is holy, so why not put it under a cathedral? Actually, this is a great place to store a data center, and Finland's Uspenski Cathedral is starting the trend. Housed in the cool depths underneath the cathedral, the center's waste heat warms up water pipes that are channeled to heat nearby homes.


Photo via Wikimedia

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Tags: Computing | Electronics | Energy Efficiency | Environmental Footprint