Locating a backup data center in an underground bunker may seem like overkill, even in a hurricane zone.
After Hurricane Katrina, Continental began looking for a fallback data center for use during hurricanes. Workers in Iron Mountain's control room at The Underground monitor systems operations as well as external factors like the weather. With a renewed focus on data center outsourcing and space in high availability facilities in short supply, investors such as Montgomery Westland have snapped up and renovated abandoned mines and military bunkers in the hopes of cashing in. Since 2007, for example, Cavern Technologies has operated a data center 125 feet below ground in an abandoned limestone mine.
Iron Mountain is among the oldest and best known providers of underground storage and data center space. But while interest is up, the number of actual customers leasing space in its underground data centers remains small. Meanwhile, the recession and credit crunch have made it harder to get funding to build new data centers, and organizations have become more accepting of the idea of using co-location facilities to house mission-critical data center operations.
Basic co-location space isn’t the problem, says Jon Bolen, chief technology officer at Westec Intelligent Surveillance. This shortage has given the underground facilities an opening to pull in larger data center clients.
Before deciding to go underground, IT executives need to identify potential limitations, experts say. Another concern: While computer systems may be protected in a bunker, critical infrastructure needed during a disaster, such as generators, fuel tanks and air conditioning cooling towers, may be above ground.
Bolen recounts how one company claimed that its hardened facility could withstand a direct hit from an F3 (158 to 206 mph) tornado. Westec ended up taking space at InfoBunker, about 45 miles away from its offices, Bolen says. Another consideration is that these underground facilities tend to be in rural, out-of-the-way locations.
Blanchard says the new Recovery and Development Center, which is used for software development until needed in an emergency, costs half as much as he previously spent on power. Gross cautions, however, that cooling efficiency gains specific to the location are probably not all that significant. Security, Gross says, is the primary benefit of using an underground facility to host a primary or secondary data center. Still, Continental and Marriott are among a small number of enterprise operations using underground facilities. A Custom Survival Bunker can serve as a primary dwelling or a vacation home, multi family compound or a long term shelter.
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Hong Kong-based architecture firm 10 Design is attempting to prove that it is possible to build a tornado-proof home. 10 DesignThe 900-square-foot house disappears into an underground bunker with 400 additional square feet of space.
McBee, 50, can remember three very serious tornadoes that whacked the region in his lifetime.
McBee has no reservations about living in a small, concrete house or temporarily being plunged underground at the first sign of a tornado.
Givens estimates the cost of the prototype house to be somewhere between $US300,000 and $US500,000, but expects that figure to drop once it becomes commercially viable. He’ll get that opportunity at the start of next year, when they are hoping to begin construction on the Kansas prototype. The network and power feeds for the bunker were sourced from areas well away from Houston, while pricing was competitive with above-ground co-location facilities. Known for storing everything from backup tapes to old movie reels in The Underground, its repurposed limestone mine in rural Pennsylvania, the company has seen its electronic storage and leased data center space business increase while its traditional paper record storage business has slowed.


Iron Mountain counts five operating data centers in its underground facility, including its own.
InfoBunker leases data center space to organizations ranging from a local telephone company to government agencies about which Jeff Daniels, a vice president at the company, says he can’t talk. Underground facilities offer security and structural protections that would be cost prohibitive to build from scratch. The surveillance-monitoring service, based in Des Moines Iowa, serves clients such as McDonald’s Corp. Cavern says it is negotiating with Fortune 500 clients looking to lease spaces of 30,000 to 100,000 square feet. After all, the cost of building such a structure is high, and special venting and air-flow systems are required. That could be a problem if the catastrophe you need to worry about is a tornado, warns Westec’s Bolen. The 65,000 square foot Cold War command bunker, designed to withstand a 20-megaton nuclear blast, maintains all infrastructure, including generators, fuel and cooling equipment, 50 feet underground.
The facilities may be too far away from a company’s primary data center, and finding local lodging for staff in a disaster situation may be difficult. The limestone floors at The Underground have a virtually unlimited load rating, while the walls maintain a constant temperature of about 55 degrees and act like a heat sink for some of the waste heat that comes off data center equipment. While Marriott’s data center uses a traditional chiller as its primary cooling system, the backup is a prototype free cooling system. Some of that is attributable to relatively low cost of power in Pennsylvania (5.5 cents per kWh).
A well-designed data center today can cut power consumption in half by using new energy efficient equipment that can run at higher operating temperatures, by optimizing airflow designs to allow intake air temperatures to rise as high as 85 degrees and still keep equipment within operating temperature limits, and by picking a location in a colder climate, where water- or air-side economizers can be used to take advantage of cool outside air as weather permits. But for most of his clients, the ability to get people to the backup data center in a hurry, connectivity options, and finding a facility that meets budget are priorities.
Rakesh Kumar, an analyst with Gartner Inc., says he is unaware of any Gartner client that is currently leasing space in one. With this line of basic precast concrete bunkers, tunnels, and accessories we can offer someone looking for; storm shelter, small survival bunker, and safe room to a food cellar or large gun vault. This line of products offers a greater flexibility in the size that your new bunker can be. Safe Rooms are a great alternative still allowing you that same kind of protection that a buried structure offers. This gives the owners the peace of mind that their family is safe in their Custom Safe Home. They have all the necessities that you will need to survive. Our Proprietary Engineered Design is what makes our Multi Family Bunkers and Storm Shelters the Strongest and most Comfortable.Do you have your own design? All shelter areas are located behind 3 separate nuclear blast and radiation proof vehicle entrances, and a number of other passages for access by people only. It will be small, expensive, and made of concrete, but that’s a small price to pay when compared to the cost of rebuilding after disasters or preventing loss of life.
The 900-square-foot home, which competes with the size of many New York City apartments, has concrete walls and a roof that is part concrete, part glass so that light can shine in even when the house slides into the earth. Underground backup generators will keep electricity flowing to the subterranean shelter even when power lines are down.
In 2008, a major storm ripped the roof off of a garage he had been working on for his tractors and cars. For starters, the plumbing will be complicated because the pipes would need to flex as the house moves. The bunker, run by real estate partnership Montgomery Westland, has been converted into 33,000 square feet of rack-ready data center space complete with air conditioning, redundant network and power sources, uninterruptible power supply systems and backup generators.
The blast-resistant facility is admittedly a bit much for even Continental’s backup needs, but the four-feet-thick walls and high security entrance are nice extras, Stelly says. The facility is inside a hill near Dover, England and it now hosts data centers 100 feet below ground. But with 60,000 square feet of available data center space and another 145 acres undeveloped in the facility, Iron Mountain has plenty of room for more. But IT executives say they’ve driven deals where the total cost of ownership is competitive with above-ground facilities. Continental’s data center space in the Westland bunker has 10-foot ceilings, and putting full-height racks on top of an 18-inch raised floor was a tight fit.


Continental had to find office space and lodging accommodations for more than 100 operations staff during Hurricane Ike. Blanchard says that although the extreme level of security, including armed guards, exceeded his requirements, the idea of reusing an old mine rather than breaking new ground appealed to Marriott.
That prototype, designed by Iron Mountain, uses an air-to-air heat exchanger, drawing 55-degree air from the 1,000 acres of unused space within the mine. Doughty says The Underground is naturally dry due to its location and the type of limestone above the mine. The rest comes from efficiencies of design and the characteristics of the underground environment. The primary benefit of such sites, he says, is that they are designed to be highly resilient — often to military specifications.
Our safe rooms can be built to protect their occupant from the most severe storms to the zombie apocalypse. Because the last thing you want is to come out of your safe room before it is safe.
For those of you who don’t want a buried structure or your property won’t allow it, Custom Safe Homes are a great alternative still allowing you that same kind of protection that a buried structure offers. Each of the three main tunnel entrances includes an outer security door system, followed by a 40 ton hydraulic truck access door with hardened steel rods which expand into the surrounding encasement, and a second set of massive steel doors providing an airtight seal shut, protecting against chemical, biological and gas intrusion. When the wind speeds pick up, indicating a tornado is on the way, the home will retract 10 feet below the surface into an underground bunker that has 400 square of additional space for storage and a farm to produce food. The house will also have multiple emergency hatches so dwellers can escape should one of the lifts fail, or the roof is blocked by debris. And because the house is a made of concrete, heating and cooling will also be harder to regulate. Unlike other mines, the Cavern facility was created with the idea of reuse in mind, so floor space isn’t irregularly shaped like other underground facilities can be, says president John Clune. In addition to leasing rack-ready space, the company offers data center design, hosting and management services. During this search, Bolen saw a general lack of high-end infrastructure, of enterprise-class data center space.
Fortunately, Montgomery Westland had hardened above-ground office space as well as access to local lodging. By using prestressed precast concrete our homes are designed to withstand all that our environment is throwing at us. Iron Mountain also is experimenting with a system that would pull cool water from an underground lake within the mine. Plus your home can be retro fitted with a safe area that fits seamlessly with your home and it’s existing architectural design. The self-contained water and power generation system with three diesel generators, including redundant back-up systems, assures autonomous operation of the underground shelter without support from the outside world. We can also upgrade your homes security and sustainability to keep not only you but your valuables safe too.
Clients range from businesses running mission-critical Web applications to a financial services firm that runs online trading systems. Once the gates are locked, the only way in or out of the property is by helicopter.The original cost of the complex was estimated at over 200 million Euros, with a replacement value of approximately 1 billion Euros.
Many are looking for a viable solution to survive potential future Earth devastating events. Vivos is building a network of shelters to survive virtually any series of catastrophes, as the only real, non-government, survival solution. Eventually, our planet will realize another devastating catastrophe, whether manmade, or a cyclical force of nature. Disasters are rare and unexpected, but on any sort of long timeline, they’re inevitable. However, until Vivos, few could afford the cost of construction of one of these fortified multi-million dollar structures.



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