Data Centers Take to the High Seas
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.
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.