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September 21, 2015

Churches, bunkers & skyscrapers: 5 strange data centre locations

CBR compiles a list of the top five weirdest places data centres have been built.

By Joao Lima

The data centre industry is finding new ways of reinventing itself, but the places where facilities are being built are also changing and becoming more creative.

CBR investigates some of the most unexpected places data centres have been built.

1. Churches

Some would say that having a data centre built in a religious place will give more data protection than any other location with the hand of God. Examples of organisations opting for a holy data centre include Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, Boston College and Academica.

Barcelona Supercomputing Centre installed its MareNostrum supercomputer in the former Chapel Torre Girona in Barcelona. The super machine, deployed at the 19th century church, is a 0,240-core IBM PowerPC computer capable of 63.8 FLOPS — 63.8 trillion floating-point operations per second.

In the US, Boston College took over St Clement’s Chapel to install a 4,000 sq ft data centre. The building has in total 60,000 sq ft and houses the institution’s Information Technology Department.

Back to Europe, in Finland, IT service provider Academia has built a data centre 30 meters bellow Uspenski Cathedral. The 2,000 sq mt facility was built in a former electric substation for global IT outsourcer Atos.

2. Skyscrapers

Putting a data centre in the middle of a metropolis is common, but building one 160 meters above ground is rare.

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The Intergate.Manhattan data centre in New York stands as the tallest data centre in the world. The hub boosts one million sq ft and 40 MW power supply.

Five cooling towers on the top of the 32 floors building at 375 Pearl Street cool down the data centre which has been design to be scaled as demand increases. Fuel to keep the equipment going is stored in the basement.

3. North Sea

Located in the Principality of Sealand, the data centre is located on top of a former anti-aircraft deck built by the British government to protect the UK from Nazi attacks during the WWII.

The owners of the infrastructure – the Bates family – have claimed sovereignty over the location which has always been refused by Britain.

In 2000, the deck was turned into a data centre for organisations and individuals to deploy their data out of the authorities reach.

Operated by HavenCo, the facility was shut down in 2008, not before Pirate Bay showing interest in acquiring the place.

4. Nuclear bunkers

Swedish internet service provider Bahnhof invested in a cold war nuclear bunker to install its data centre business and headquarters.

The Pionen White Mountains facility is located in central Stockholm, 100 ft under the granite rocks of the Vita Berg Park.

It took the company two years to build the data centre out, and it now has 12,900 sq ft of floor space for its services.

5. Mountains

Built in a highland region in the US, the Ozark Mountain data centre goes for the name of The Mountain Complex.

Located outside Branson, Missouri, the three million square facility uses the air of the region to cool down its IT equipment.

With 34 foot ceilings, the complex offers collocation and off-site data storage through an alliance with CenturyTel.

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