Data centers take to the high seas

By Chris Mellor, Techworld.com |  Data Center

International Data Security, a U.S. startup, plans to open the first of 50
ship-borne floating data centers at Pier 50 in San Francisco in April.

Floating data centers are said to be much more environmentally friendly than
land-based data centers. Other green data center locations have previously included
Siberia, Iceland, Smartbunker, a UK NATO military site, and a Japanese coal
mine.

The company aims to have 22 container ships housing data centers around the
U.S. coastline and 28 elsewhere around the globe. The data centers will be constructed
in the ship's cargo space and also housed in shipping containers stacked on
the deck, using products such as Sun's
Blackbox
and Rackable's ICE
Cube
. It is said that each ship will have a minimum of 200,000 square feet
of potential data center space.

The Pier 50 ship already has its 'anchor' tenants. The full fleet of 50 decommissioned
cargo ships is said to have already been purchased.

The ships will be moored in ports and have power and network connections run
out to them. Power demands will be supplemented by on-ship generators running
on the ship's bio-diesel supply, allowing sustained power outages of up to one
month. To help reduce the demands on the cooling system for the generators and
data containers, sea water will be used to cool the air-conditioning towers
with a 30-40 percent power reduction expected. Waste heat from the data centers
will be re-used to heat the ship's accommodation.

As well as sea-water cooling, bio-diesel and re-use of waste heat, the floating
data center's environmental credentials are increased by the ships themselves
being recycled instead of scrapped.

These marine data centers are being targeted at the disaster recovery market
initially. The San Francisco area is well known for its San Andreas fault earthquake
risk.

IDS says that a ship-borne data center can be commissioned in just a few months
whereas building a land-based data center can take a year or more and be hindered
by real estate constraints.

IDS stands for International Data Security and is run by CEO Ken Choi and president
Richard Naughton, an ex-US Navy admiral.

It is a private company and is so new that it doesn't even have a website yet,
or indeed, much of a presence via web search engines which is perhaps curious
in that it is quite close to the launch of its first ship data center facility.
A somewhat basic data sheet has come to light. It is not known if IDS is going
to be floated.

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