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6 Weird Data Center Locations

Many data centers are located in or near metropolitan areas because of their proximity to customers and to potential employees. However, as available land diminishes in tech corridors and local governments and residents begin pushing back on additional development, data center providers are looking at alternative housing options for their facilities. 

Unconventional locales are not just intriguing, but they also offer some great advantages. 

Why Locate Data Centers in Unusual Places?

In some instances, data center providers are tasked with delivering cloud accessibility to rural communities or businesses that have chosen to set up shop in less-than-hospitable regions of the world. 

In other scenarios, visionary data center providers want to push the limits of what’s possible by subjecting their data centers to rigorous conditions and environmental hazards. Their efforts, if successful, may make previously challenging locations, such as the ocean or space, viable for data centers.

These data centers are inspiring for innovation-minded data center providers. Learning about unique data centers is a great way to think of new ways to approach old challenges, such as accessibility, temperature, and environmental obstacles. 

6 Data Centers Located in Unusual Places

While data center providers don’t typically shy away from challenges, they are also practical. Any unique data center location occurs because of necessity or innovation. 

Here are a few of the more unusual data center locations. 

1. The Submersible Data Center

Project Natick is an experimental prototype designed by Microsoft to deliver data storage and processing capabilities to users on Scotland’s Orkney Islands. This shipping container-sized data center is compact and portable. 

Designers have created the system to be scalable as well. Interested parties can order the data center to size, deploy it rapidly, and leave it on the sea floor, where it can operate independently for years. 

Theoretically, one could order multiple units to maintain the system’s portability while scaling up computing and data storage capacity. 

2. The Former-Church Supercomputing Hub

Data centers are known for their bland aesthetics. The typical warehouse-like structures are unassuming to the uninitiated. However, one data center turns heads because of its beautiful architecture and cutting-edge supercomputer. 

For decades, the Torre Girona was a normal church that hosted its congregation several times a week for religious services. Today, it is known as one of the most beautiful data centers in the world. It houses the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and its flagship system, the MareNostrum supercomputer. 

The MareNostrum is part of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and is used for various research projects, including biomedicine, weather forecasting, cancer research, and climate change analysis. 

3. The Underground Data Center

The Bahnhof Data Center looks similar to a supervillain base out of a Hollywood blockbuster, but in reality, it is one of the most secure and well-protected data centers in the world.

Located in Pionen, a former nuclear bunker in Stockholm, Sweden, the Bahnhof Data Center is buried 100 feet underground inside the White Mountains. It is secured by 15.7” thick metal doors.

The structure has an area of nearly 11,000 square feet, with about half dedicated to hosting. Around 2,100 square feet house back-end systems; the remaining regions are workspace, passageways, and break areas. 

4. The Hurricane-Proof Data Center

 The city of Miami is a hub of diversity, known for its bustling nightlife and rich culture. However, the coastal city is also positioned on the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, which is under constant threat of hurricanes from June through November. 

Enter the Equinix NAP of the Americas data center, a facility designed to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds. Located in the heart of Miami at an elevation of 32 feet above sea level, the MI1 facility is one of the largest single-building data centers in the world. It is six stories tall and approximately 750,000 square feet in area.

The MI1 provides internet access to 148 countries, most of which are located in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. It also serves as the primary network exchange between the United States and Latin America. 

The center displayed its hurricane-resistant capabilities when Irma, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall in Florida in early September 2017. The center survived and avoided any service disruption. 

5. The Glacier-Cooled Data Center

When the Lefdal Mine Datacenter opened in 2016, it was the largest in Europe. While other data centers have since supplanted it, Lefdal is still one of the most innovative data centers located in a unique place. 

Built 150 meters into a mountain, the data center is powered by locally produced renewable energy. Glacial water from Norway’s second-largest fjord cools the Lefdal Mine Datacenter. The fjord is fed by water from four glaciers and is 565 meters deep. 

6. The Renewable, Desert-Bound Data Center

With 7.2 million square feet of data center space, the Tahoe Reno 1 in Nevada is the largest data center in the world. It’s also entirely powered by renewable energy. Located in the Citadel Campus in Northern Nevada, the Tahoe Reno 1 provides connectivity, data storage, and cloud services to millions of people across North America. 

The Tahoe Reno 1 Center is part of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRI), which is also the largest industrial park in the world. The TRI is home to numerous other facilities, including the Tesla Gigafactory 1. 

Looking to the Future of Unique Data Centers

As technology evolves, unusual data center locations will become more prevalent. Ultimately, the demand for data, cloud services, and AI processing will likely push data center providers to explore the final frontier: space. 

Some organizations are already laying the foundation for space-based data centers using low earth orbit satellites (LEOs). While it remains to be seen if everyone will move from the cloud to the cosmos, it is an exciting proposition. 

For now, the world’s most uniquely located data centers will remain on this side of the atmosphere. 

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