Don’t get me wrong; working for a hosting company can be an exciting job, with security issues, angry customers, attacks, downtimes and other daily disasters, working at a hosting company can feel like being in a warzone.
It’s fair to say though, when most people think of hosting companies and datacenters, they don’t typically get that excited. After all, most datacenters are just rows of servers and cables in safe, bland buildings on a par with a million other offices around the world.
However, I said ‘most’. A few datacenters are on a mission to change that perception. In fact, by changing the perception of what a datacenter is they also want to alter how the Web works and the role websites play in our lives.
Here are three examples of extreme datacenters- what makes them stand out and what do they mean for the future of the Web?
1. A Datacenter That Can Survive a Nuclear Attack
The bunker, code named Pionen White Mountains during its military days, rests below nearly 100 feet of solid rock. It was used as a military installation and was designed to withstand even a near-direct nuclear strike.
However, equally interesting to the datacenter’s durability is its design; a space-themed layout that wouldn’t look out of place in a spy movie. With simulated daylight and greenhouses, the location’s 15 full-time employees have one of the most unique work environments on the planet.
Even the backup system is unique: it’s powered by old submarine engines and comes with an alarm klaxon from the same source!
Obviously, the datacenter has become notorious, but not just because of its location. Recently, it has started to host a few servers for the controversial site Wikileaks.
However, this isn’t the only nuclear bunker that’s been turned into a datacenter. In the Netherlands, the company Cyberbunker has turned a manmade bunker into a datacenter. The company, at one time, played host to The Pirate Bay as well as other controversial sites.
2. A Portable Datacenter You Can Move With One Hand
A nuclear bunker might sound pretty cool location for your host, but it’s not exactly portable. If you need a datacenter that can move, you need to talk to Elliptical Mobile Solutions. This company develops portable datacenters that can be set up anywhere and moved with ease.
Every unit from Elliptical comes with a full rack of space, built-in cooling systems and various armor options to protect against various physical attacks.
These datacenters are primarily used in military and disaster recovery situations, where a small datacenter might need to be deployed in a location that, otherwise, would be impractical.
The company even offers a self-propelled unit; it’s about the size of a refrigerator and can be moved easily by one person.
Best of all, since the cooling system only cools the equipment and not the room that it’s in, this datacenter is remarkably power efficient – useful in environments where power may be scarce.
You probably won’t host your site on one of the mobile units, but the smaller cabinets may be appearing in datacenters all over the world. This enables the creation of ‘microdatacenters’. These can host sites (and other content) without fulfilling all the special requirements, such as fire suppression and cooling, that would otherwise be needed.
3. A Datacenter 7 Miles Out to Sea
Finally, we have the most extreme datacenter ever created. The controversial hosting company HavenCo had a datacenter on the micronation of Sealand, a WW2 anti-aircraft platform in the English Channel, about seven miles off the cost of England in international water.
HavenCo’s big draw was that it could host content considered illegal by other hosting companies. This was all because the datacenter was in international water and on a “micronation” with dubious legal standing. Although the company had a policy against child pornography, it allowed other controversial content such as copyright infringing works.
As extreme as these companies are, the real point of interest is how far they have gone to keep content online; it says a great deal about the role of the Web in our lives.
Nuclear bunkers, ocean forts and armored containers are places we put only the most important things in our lives; the things that are critical to our survival and our well being. The fact that these installations now host servers for communications shows just how important the Web is and how vulnerable it is perceived as being.
Despite the fact that there are plenty of ways to attack a site hosted in a nuclear bunker, such extreme measures demonstrates how far the Web has come in just a few decades.
It also raises questions about what the next evolution in extreme hosting will look like. Though HavenCo has stopped operating, it won’t be long before other micronations try their hand at hosting. Legal issues surrounding hosting are becoming ever more prominent; international waters or countries with weak regulations are the perfect solution for those hosts that are looking to stretch the rules.
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