What NORAD and the Bluebird Underground Data Center Have in Common
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Colorado Springs is home to the NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which protects the continent from aircraft, missiles, and space vehicles. The Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a fortress deep within the surrounding mountain, shelters NORAD’s Alternate Command Center. This mountain delivers the best in natural defense, and the inherent protection of the surrounding rock is heightened by the addition of advanced man-made security measures. While NORAD is an international defense organization, the strategy to keep this underground facility secure is not that different from the strategies used by some non-military facilities. Leveraging the naturally protective characteristics of the rock, the isolation and stable atmosphere inherent to an underground facility, and placement of all critical infrastructure within the underground space are strategies used by the Bluebird Underground Data Center.
Located in Springfield, Missouri, the Bluebird Underground Data Center is hidden 85 feet beneath the earth’s surface within a structurally sound limestone mine. Our location offers protection from Mother Nature’s worst, such as fires, tornadoes, flooding and even earthquakes. While protection from earthquakes may not seem inherent to an underground facility, the specific location and its geology are what ensures this unique level of protection. The Bluebird Underground Data Center is located within a geological formation known as the Burlington Formation that spreads from Iowa to northwestern Arkansas and from western Illinois to western Kansas. This formation of limestone is approximately 350 feet thick and keeps the Bluebird Underground Data Center rock-steady in the event of an earthquake.
Being sheltered by 85 feet of rock protects the data center operations and insures a higher degree of reliability. The environment affords a comfortable 64 to 68 degrees year-round, helping to reduce cooling demands, while maximizing operational efficiencies. Redundant chiller units and a closed loop chilled water system ensure temperature and humidity set points. A Hot Aisle/Cold Aisle temperature management system is employed throughout the facility. Being underground ensures precision control of the data center management systems and eliminates complications experienced by above ground data centers exposed to weather volatility.
While underground data centers are not uncommon, many of these facilities do not fully leverage the benefits of their unique location. According to a 2016 study done by the Ponemon Institute, mechanical failure accounts for 64 percent of all data center outages, with nearly a quarter of outages attributed to UPS failure alone. Though most subterranean data centers utilize space underground for customer equipment, some elect to house much of their critical equipment above ground. Placing the critical operations equipment required to run the data center on the surface and exposing it to above ground risks exposes the customer’s operations and negates the benefits of being located in a protective environment. At the Bluebird Underground Data Center, both customer space and all critical infrastructure are protected underground by 85 feet of limestone, tapping into the full protective potential offered by the natural surrounding environment and reinforcing our 100 percent uptime guarantee.
Though the Bluebird Underground Data Center may not be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of NORAD, we take advantage of its naturally-hardened environment to provide our customers peace of mind for their operations. For our customers, our services translate to quality, continuity, and performance.