Age is just a number
A 90-year-old former printing plant seems like an unlikely location for a 21st-century datacenter, let alone a critically acclaimed green datacenter. Yet Digital Realty Trust, on behalf of an undisclosed Fortune 500 client, successfully transformed part of Chicago's R.R. Donnelly printing plant, built in 1917, into the world's first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-certified datacenter. The rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
Located near The Loop, the 20,000-square-foot datacenter has raised-floor space with 4,000 kW of available IT load. Securing the LEED award required using as much of the existing facility as possible; it also took advanced commissioning, a process to ensure that all of its systems are designed, installed, and tested to perform according to the design intent and the building owner's operational needs.
Features of this particular project include sophisticated tools for measuring energy consumption, as well as equipment and a monitoring system that help improve performance of the ventilation system and indoor air quality.
Life after the military
The last thing you might expect to discover while tramping through the forest is a datacenter. You will find one (if you know where to look) in the middle of the woods in Uitikon, outside Zurich. There, collocation provider GIB-Services and IBM partnered to transform a hidden, former underground military bunker into a highly secure, 360-square-meter data storage facility.
Beyond finding a smart reuse for a retired bunker, the partners devised a nifty, eco-friendly approach to putting the facility's 2,800 MWh of annual wasted heat: warming the nearby public pool for free. (The town did have to invest in hooking up the thermal transfer mechanisms.)
Out in the open
Looking ahead, we may soon see companies opening up building-less datacenters, with Microsoft leading the way. The company has already embraced self-contained "datacenters in a box" at a facility in Chicago, cramming hundreds of containers into a 700,000-square-foot building.
The next step: foregoing a physical structure to house the containers altogether. The company's Generation 4 Modular Data Center for its cloud computing infrastructure calls for containerized servers inside a secure perimeter with no roof. According to a New York Times blog entry, Microsoft says it can build a new datacenter in about half the time if it doesn't bother with walls, a roof, and the like.