New data center to be built underground, in former limestone mine

How’s this for a creative location for a “green” data center: underground.

Data Center Knowledge reported this week on one of the most unusual data center developments I’ve heard of. We all know about the trend to use shipping containers to build modular data centers or the host of data centers in Oregon and Washington that take advantage of low-cost hydro power.

cave_0.jpgSource: matthewvenn, via Flickr
SubTropolis is a lot more welcoming than this.

Now, LightEdge, a colocation, cloud and consulting company that is owned by Qwest founder Phil Anschutz, is building a new data center in a former limestone mine. (As a reminder, Anschutz was the subject of an insider trading suit related to Qwest that was ultimately settled.)

The former mine, underneath Kansas City, Mo., is now a business park called SubTropolis. It’s huge. And it turns out it could make a great home for a data center.

A CNN video from a few years back that covered SubTropolis features an executive from Paris Brothers, a company that uses space in the complex for warehousing, who says: “It’s 70 and overcast every day, regardless of what’s going on outside.”

That’s a nice environment for a data center too. Not only is the temperature relatively cool, the structure itself is incredibly strong (LightEdge’s press release calls it a “fortress”). The way the limestone was mined, huge limestone pillars were left behind, supporting the entire structure. Limestone is three times stronger than concrete, according to Dick Ringer, an executive with Hunt Midwest, the company that owns the complex, who was quoted in the CNN video.

LightEdge expects to open the first phase of its data center, which will cover 60,000 square feet, during the first quarter next year. The complex has a total of 5 million square feet of space, and LightEdge noted that could support future expansion.

The LightBridge press release has more detail about the electric power it will use and also says that six telecom operators, including AT&T and Time Warner, are expected to be able to provide connectivity for customers that use the data center. This will be LightBridge’s fourth data center.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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