Futuristic Data Center Efficiency Ideas

Five Futuristic Data Center Efficiency Ideas

1. Building a Data Center Under a Cathedral

There are a ton of jokes we could make about building a data center under a church, but we’re gonna pass. Taking data center efficiency to a whole new level, the Atos data center was built inside a former bomb shelter 30 meters under the historic Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland.

This concept isn’t new, as various other data centers have been built inside caves and bomb shelters deep underground to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and security benefits. Additionally, the Atos Data Center will be using the nearby sea water to cool its servers. Its cooling practices are not necessarily what caught our attention, though. What’s cool about this facility is that it transports the heat produced by the server equipment up to the city to heat buildings and provide hot water for the residents.

2. Offshore Data Centers

Well, this data center doesn’t exist yet. There’s not much known about its current development, other than it being recently filed as a patent by Google. The idea is to build a floating data center that uses the waves to extract power and the sea water to cool the servers. Not only is the concept completely green, but it also eliminates the need for real estate. No word on how they’re going to deal with tsunamis, icebergs, and pirates!

3. Using Ponds Filled With Alligators

Let’s talk about Google again! As we’ve mentioned before in a previous post, Google takes physical security of its data centers very seriously, but we never thought they’d take it as far as stocking their moats with killer alligators!

We’re kidding! Google doesn’t have moats, they have ponds – and this particular data center is in South Carolina, where an alligator pretty much just waltzed in and claimed it as his home. Google’s Berkeley County data center is testing the use of ponds to keep its systems from overheating. Soon after initiating the pond project, algae started forming there, so Google stocked the pond with fish that feed on the algae. Soon after that, an alligator showed up to eat the fish. Unfortunately, they’re gonna have to get rid of the alligator after it grows to 6 feet – it’s currently at 4 feet.

4. Data Centers in Space

Here’s another efficiency idea that is still in its conceptual stages. It’s called ServerSky and it involves building a data center in space! The benefits are tremendous, as it would be completely self-sufficient and wouldn’t cause any pollution – at least, not to the Earth. It would use solar power for energy, deep space for cooling, with no real-estate restrictions. There is a problem though, that hasn’t been worked out. It’s not clear how it will stand against radiation and how much damage it will get.

The ServerSky is actually a very reasonable proposal for the energy problems that data centers are creating. With use of the internet becoming more widespread around the world, more data centers are needed to keep up with demand. Along with this, the need for more energy arises – the biggest data center can require as much energy needed to power a small town!


5. Stocking a Data Center with Server Lifts

While data centers focus on cutting energy costs, they might overlook simple methods of ensuring the highest levels of data center efficiency. One of these areas is the deployment stage – the task of moving and lifting servers and other heavy rack-mount equipment. These tasks are typically carried out using manual labor with 2-4 employees carrying equipment, not knowing that this process can be optimized for efficiency as well. Accidents happen all the time, especially when lifting heavy equipment with several people within a confined environment such as a data center. If a server is dropped, you’ll end up with tens of thousands of dollars of rack-mounted equipment that no longer works. Even worse, you might end up with an injured worker!

So what’s the best way to bring efficiency to this task? While this isn’t a futuristic idea, you can invest in a specialized server lift. Having a server lifting device to carry the heavy IT equipment and then hold it in position during an install saves time and money, thus creating a more efficient data center.


Data Center Security

Data Center Security:

Let’s Get Physical…


Let’s be honest, how secure is your data center? You’re initial thoughts might go something like “it’s ironclad, the Fort Knox of all data centers, nothing could possibly be more secure.” And virtually, yes, you’re ready for anything. You probably have firewalls, VPN gateways, intrusion detection systems, monitoring systems, the whole nine-yards. No one will be manipulating their way into your network anytime soon. Your network is impenetrable!
But what about your data centers physical security? Sure you’ve thought about it, set up some precautions, installed a few security features, made some regulations, some rules. You’re probably thinking you’re well protected. However, you more than likely didn’t spend nearly as much time creating the master plan to protect your facility, as you did when you considered your network. Unfortunately, that is all too typical in the industry. Physical security is often placed on the back burner, largely forgotten until an unauthorized party manages to break into or sneak onto a site. So with that in mind…

It’s time to get physical- as in physically securing and protecting your data center.

As with all things, there will always be someone who takes things to the extreme. Physical Data Center Security is no exception. Iron Mountain houses four of its datacenters 22 stories underground in an old abandoned limestone mine. Google has been known to keep its server cages in complete darkness, outfitting its technical staff like miners and sending them spelunking into the cages with lights on their heads when anything needs to be updated or repaired. Visa not only has a moat, but also has a briefing room; its walls opaque like any others, but with the push of a button, they become transparent glass, revealing what’s beyond–a NASA-like command center with a 40-by-14-foot wall of screens, including Visa’s network overlaid on a world map. These, however, are rare cases. Companies like the three I listed above, store massive amounts of invaluable, irreplaceable, important data. It is understandable that they are slightly paranoid about their security.

Data Center Security Checklist

So what can you do to protect your data center from attack you ask? Read below to find out how a fictional data center is designed to withstand everything from corporate espionage artists to terrorists to natural disasters. Sure, the extra precautions can be expensive. But they’re simply part of the cost of building a secure facility that also can keep humming through disasters.

  • Location, Location, Location
  • Have Redundant bandwidth providers
  • Don’t do anything to publicize what is at the location, no data center here signs
  • Control all access to prevent potential piggybacking intruders
  • Secure all doors, windows, and walls
  • Have a Disaster Recover Plan in place
  • Hire a company to locate all of your physical security weaknesses
  • If possible construct with materials that provide ballistic protection, like Kevlar
  • Vegetation and landscaping are your best friend
  • Keep a 100-foot buffer zone around the site
  • Use automatic bollards and guard stations at vehicle entry points
  • Plan for bomb detection
  • Limit entry points and don’t forget to watch the exists too
  • Have security systems, like ,closed-circuit TV, and ensure 24×7 backup power
  • Install at least one mantrap
  • Keep a well-trained guard and security staff
  • Make fire doors exit only
  • Use plenty of cameras
  • Implement agreements to ban discussion of anything to do with the facility
  • Lock down all cages, cabinets and vaults
  • Harden the datacenter core with additional authentication requirements
  • Plan for secure air handling to keep intruders and chemical attacks out
  • Ensure no one can play hide-and-go-seek in the walls and ceilings
  • Use two-factor authentication such as bio metric identification or Electronic Access Control Systems (ACS)
  • Have an effective server equipment handling solution, such as a ServerLIFT, to prevent downtime during a high threat time
  • Enforce a no food and drink rule in computing rooms
  • Have a “Threat Conditions Policy”
  • Destroy all paper, disks, and data prior to disposing of it outside the facility
  • Use extra precautions with visitors, they pose one of the greatest threats

If you would like to see some of these security measures in action, Google, interestingly enough released a video showcasing the security and data protection practices they use in their data centers. However, in true secretive Google fashion, near the end of the video there’s a reference to their use of additional security measures not shown–which can only be a reference to the sharks with friggin’ laser beams on their heads!