Underground clouds? Welcome to the future – data centers are starting to look at abandoned limestone mines as potential locations to expand their computing power. Aggregate Research reports that security and cost-effectiveness are primary goals for data centers – and unlike standard locations in urban centers, mines offer plenty in the way of both: they’re immune to extreme weather, and have consistent temperatures in the mid 50F range, along with consistent humidity. Old mines also often have lakes or aquifers in their lower reaches which can provide an economical and eco-friendly way to keep servers cool – a key consideration for data centers. Add the security that comes from having a single entrance and throw in plentiful electrical power leftover from the mine, and you have pretty much the perfect space for a data center to operate.
According to Paul Geista, the major hurdle in getting underground data centers up and running is installing all the fiber optic Internet connections required to make them a reality. Geista is a director at the New York office of Callison, an architecture firm currently converting a former limestone mine in the Northeast into a data center for a confidential client. He told Aggregate Research that locations like these really appeal to clients who place a high value on security like “government, financials, hospitals – anybody who needs long-term secure data storage.” Since projects like this are done in complete secrecy, Geista says they do pose challenges to developing a business. “We’ve been struggling with how to market it,” he said. “It’s like: If I tell you, I have to kill you.”