To people who store data for a living, "the cloud" isn't so cloudlike. For them, the cloud means servers—and actual clouds (along with big weather events such as Hurricane Sandy) can put those servers at risk. "Obviously one of the primary concerns is security," adds Rich Miller, editor of Data Center Knowledge. These five companies are hunkering down and going rogue.
Iron Mountain Underground
This former limestone mine has an ambient temperature of 55 degrees and a single entrance defended by armed guards.
Limestone caves 125 feet underground offer natural protection from weather, and the constant 68-degree temperature reduces the facility's dependence on power to keep the servers cool.
Central Iowa (near Ames)
Deep inside a former Air Force bunker, old military architecture like reinforced concrete walls, air filtration that monitors for biological and chemical attacks, and an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) shield protect servers against any sort of attack.
Austell, Georgia; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Goose Creek, South Carolina; Pryor, Oklahoma
Clusters of data centers around the country speed up search results and (bonus!) ensure that no disaster will be able to take out all of them at once.
OFF THE GRID
The Data Plant pilot project is the size of a Dumpster and gets its energy from methane gas harvested from the sewage treatment plant next door. If it works, it'll be deployed at scale, so if the power grid goes down, Microsoft's computers will still be running.
Illustration by Vasava
A version of this article appeared in the May 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.