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What Lies Beneath Our Feet: Underground Data Centers

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 2

I don’t know how much you love horror movies but if you do, I guess that the first half of the title must have either scared you a bit or give you the thrill. In these movies, there is always something dreadful going on underground, whether is it about a mythical beast or some alien monsters. Do you remember Tremors and its disgusting and deadly worms? If you do, then you might get a clear picture of what I mean.

However, some other times and in some other types of movies from a different range and from a different genre, what is to be found under our feet is nothing else but a treasure… or even many of them! You just have to think about wonderful productions such as Indiana Jones or The Pirates of the Caribbean and you'll get what I mean.

Mannheim, underground
Credit: brongaeh on Flickr

Leaving cinematography and imagination aside, I must mention that even in real life there are some treasures down there, lying deep underground, which might have actually been a source of inspiration for many creations belonging to the human kind and civilization. Down there, there are all kinds of prized metals and gemstones, as well as crystal-clear water, as the source of all life on this planet! So here you have it: deep inside this earth humanity finds what is perceived as precious (e.g. diamonds) and what we need in order to go on with our lives (drinking water). The more you dig, the closer you get to the fire that burns endlessly in the center of earth, but… I guess that we can’t really reach that core!  Nonetheless, the underground serves also to host and protect - the natural resources , ourselves in case of disasters (think of bunkers, for instance) and our dearest belongings. Lately, we dig deep to protect not ourselves but valuable information.

Iron Mountain

Pennsylvania, U.S.

Iron Mountain
Credit: coloandcloud.com

Iron Mountain is the world’s leading brand in data management. It was founded in 1951 and today it offers a variety of services to companies in need to outsource their records management, waste management and other essential services. Iron Mountain’s remarkable and already famous underground storage facility lies 220 feet below ground in Pennsylvania, U.S. In its 145-acre space and it safely hosts tones of information in all possible formats belonging to companies, governmental agencies and institutions. Recently, Iron Mountain decided to enter the multi-tenant data center market by expanding the data center services it offers to their clients. Iron Mountain is not alone though; in Sweden, one of the world’s most impressive underground storage facilities is to be found.

Pionen Data Center

Stockholm, Sweden

Bahnhof’s Pionen “White Mountain” data center
Credit: from coloandcloud.com
Pionen Data Center
Credit: architectmagazine.com

Built in 2008, this storage facility used to be an old nuclear bunker just below the ground of Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city. It is dubbed as the “James Bond Villain” data center! Fair enough; the feeling it gives you when you take a look is that everything we know from Hollywood movies is simply true! Except for valuable information, this underground facility also includes waterfalls (!), greenhouses and simulated daylight!  It is located below 30 meters of granite and contains 1110 sqm of space. What is more is that it can withstand a hydrogen bomb.  In other words, only Super man could break in such a space!

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Mulls Underground Data Centers
Credit: datacenterknowledge.com

Currently there is a debate in Hong Kong regarding the realistic (or not?) project of building underground data centers. Some claim that it is undoubtedly an expensive solution, but some others consider that it would prove to be very efficient and effective.  It seems that there might be no other safe and efficient way than to build underground data centers, given the serious space problem that Hong Kong is facing. The plan is to dig out rock caves in order to build this data center, altogether contributing to what is seems to have become an ongoing trend worldwide.

Green Mountain


Green Mountain, Norway
Credit: theatlanticcities.com

At the same time, there is also Norway’s Green Mountain Project that is currently under construction. The city of Helsinki has its own “underground city” already. In the United States, apart from Iron Mountain’s “Underground”, there are many other underground data centers. The Mountain Complex, the Montgomery Westland, Cavern Technologies have their own data centers in Missouri, Texas and Kansas, respectively, just to mention some of  the impressive storage facilities spread around the country.

How do they say it about blockbusters? “Coming soon in the theaters”? In our case, it will be “Coming soon to an underground bunker beneath your feet!”

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May 18, 2013 4:15am
Hey Johnny, This is really cool. How amazing does that Stockholm Data centre look! Great article.
May 18, 2013 5:50am
Indeed, it's fantastic, it feels like coming from a scince fiction movie!
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