Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A data centre inside a mountain, cooled by glacier water

A new data centre has been unveiled deep inside a Swiss mountain in a rock chamber that was the Command and Control centre for the Swiss Air Force. As well as offering a secure Tier IV collocation facility, it's also energy-efficient, using the mountain's natural cooling resources, including glacier water.

The Deltalis RadixCloud data centre was built by Minkels, part of the Legrand Group, for operator Deltalis and follows on from a trend for new data centres in extreme locations that provide security and energy efficiency. (Back in January I reported on the Green Mountain data centre located in a former NATO ammunition depot inside a mountain beside a fjord in Norway).

imageThe data centre consists of several multi storey buildings built into the granite rock, providing military-grade security. A modular design - from racks to rooms to entire caverns are available - is an integral part of the development, maximising energy efficiency. Canton Uri, the electricity provider, produces a large enough surplus of hydroelectric power to be an energy exporter, so continuity of long-term renewable energy supply is assured.

The facility also benefits from a cool, year-round temperature inside the mountain, as well as abundant cooling water, all of which helps to minimise the electricity bills and CO2 emissions. In subsequent phases of development underground water will be used for cooling and waste heat will be available to use for district heating.

The data centre is close to Zurich, has good road and rail connections and has access to the main north/south high-speed fibre Internet route through Switzerland.

The project has just been shortlisted for the finals of DatacenterDynamics EMEA 2012 Awards, in the category 'Most Extreme Data Centre Deployment'. The award ceremony will take place in London tomorrow.


Review:  Well the data centre certainly has everything going for it. Modular design, cool (and constant) temperature, cold water for further cooling, plentiful renewable energy available and a future use for the waste heat. Plus, of course, the secure location.

I can imagine there are quite a few other ex-military or government facilities like this one dotted across Europe that may well end up as data centres. No doubt there are data centre builders already looking for opportunities in disused tunnels, mines and other underground locations.

It will certainly be difficult for many companies to compete in terms of security and energy efficiency with these locations. A London-based co-location data centre, for example, can hardly offer the same capabilities.

© The Green IT Review

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