Data Center Design Trends: From Tame to Wild and Wacky

By Chris Kenney | August 5, 2014

As with most forms of technology and infrastructure, data centers and data center designs are constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of enterprises, their customers – and most importantly, their data.

Some of these evolutions make complete sense; for example, TechNavio’s recent Global Data Center Rack Market 2014 report found that rack units have nearly doubled in height in the last ten years, most likely in an attempt by data center managers to make the most of smaller spaces and rising real estate prices. The analyst firm’s VP, Faisal Ghaus, told Datacenter Dynamics that these taller racks may soon mean data center workers will need ladders to reach the upper shelves.

Other changes are seriously pushing the boundaries of what a data center can and should be. In Arthur Cole’s recent IT BusinessEdge article, he reviews some of these out-of-the-box data center designs and concludes the only thing stopping innovation now is human imagination. For example, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn has built a data center inside a long tunnel at a Chinese industrial park. The intent of this “green tunnel,” as it is being called, is to take advantage of the natural wind speed and temperature, which has reportedly lowered power consumption by a third. Similarly, Peak 10 is building a data center in Florida that has been designed to resist hurricanes. By building above flood elevation and utilizing high-impact windows, the facility is being constructed to protect data at all costs, especially during a natural disaster.

However, one of the most intriguing of these new data center designs comes from Boston Internet Exchange (BOSIX) member, Iron Mountain. The storage and information management company constructed an underground facility to utilize the naturally cooler temperatures and achieve a level of security (think natural disasters, such as an earthquake, or military attack) unseen with above ground data center facilities. The data center occupies a former limestone mine, is 220 feet below ground and features 1.7 million square feet of space. Iron Mountain isn’t the only organization to build underground. Norway’s Green Mountain data center occupies a former high-security NATO ammunition store and is located inside of a mountain and Hong Kong officials and real estate firms have recently explored the possibilities of developing purpose-built caves to house data center servers.

Whether these data center design trends last the test of time is yet to be seen, but regardless, it’s important that data center providers, such as Markley Group, continually work to provide customers with diversified storage options that ensure peace of mind and safely-kept data.

What do you think about these new types of data centers? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below or connect with us on Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you!