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Dig Deep for Underground Data Center Assurances

View the original article published on Data Center Dynamics: https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/content-tracks/design-build/dig-deep-for-data-center-assurances/100369.article

Given the growth in Big Data analytics, the advent of IoT, decentralization, and now AI for robotics, drones and autonomous vehicles, these developments have a significant impact on virtually every industry sector.

Equally significant are the places where these important compute and storage operations live. While there are many dimensions to operational risk, any assessment should begin with a location that provides assurances for the security and confidentiality of this sensitive and at times proprietary business function.

Look down

For some, the answer is right under their feet. By operating in facilities beneath the Earth’s surface in suitable geographic areas, these data center locations deliver a resiliency unmatched by any above-ground structure.  The surrounding rock within a mine creates a natural shield from all weather extremes and events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. Severe weather comes in many different forms but exists everywhere. Any of these events can operationally impact any region or above-ground structure.

That said, some underground data center designs fail to consider the value associated with placing all critical infrastructure such as utility transformers, gensets and chillers underground. For example, our body’s critical organs are all located under our rib cage for two very important reasons – physical and operational protection.

This is akin to the logic behind placing critical infrastructure underground – physical and operational protection. Much like the weakest link in a chain, any critical infrastructure above ground or outside can significantly diminish the entire data center’s resiliency, performance and ultimately the assurances of being underground.

While it is easy to grasp the protective aspects from natural and unnatural events, there are a wide range of other day-to-day assurances and benefits realized by siting a data center underground. Maintaining an operationally stable temperature environment is much easier underground, functioning like a biosphere.

Todd Murren is the General Manager of the Bluebird Underground Data Center.