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Florida Town Builds Data Center In Water Tank

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the zombie-proof-computing dept.

Data Storage 104

miller60 writes "The Florida town of Altamonte Springs has converted an old water storage tank into a new data center. The decommissioned tank previously held up to 770,000 gallons of water, but its 18-inch-thick walls provided a hurricane-proof home for the town's IT gear, which had to be relocated three times in 2004 to ride out major storms. The Altamonte Springs facility is the latest example of data centers in strange places, including chapels, shopping malls, cargo ships, old particle accelerators and caves."

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104 comments

And it's great for sysadmins (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866050)

You just dive in and swim to the server racks.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (5, Funny)

bysin (173686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866064)

You just dive in and swim to the server racks.

There's a new job opening in Altamonte, a sysadmin that is SCUBA certified.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866288)

How To Be An Old Geezer, Nigga!


With the aging Baby Boomers there are now more elderly people in America than ever before. It becomes more apparent that a segment of them do not know how to age gracefully. Traditionally, this way of life was learned from extensive contact with and careful observation of the previous generation of elders. In today's fast-paced world this is less and less viable. While not intended to be 100% comprehensive, this document is a quick HOWTO reference to at least help today's old people get started. The following are the most important points, the time-tested things you really MUST do in order to be an old person in the modern world.
  1. Fuck the younger generations as much and as hard as you possibly can. This point is critical and cannot be overemphasized. Most other points are related to this one. That's how key it really is. There is one great way to do that, better than all other ways combined:

    Vote as a single homogeneous bloc. This is politically very powerful. Use that power to run up massive debts that you have absolutely no intention of paying. That way, future generations can inherit them. You need to do this even though collectively, you are the single wealthiest demographic group in existence.

    Your retirement from Social Security is the best way to arrange this. Sure, you could have taken personal responsibility for your life and started saving for your own retirement from a young age, but where's the fun in that? It's vital that you let Social Security remain the Ponzi scheme that it is so that no young person today has a hope of collecting a dime from it BUT they still have to pay into it (hah-hah! I guess the joke's on them!). BE CERTAIN that any politician who even suggests changing Social Security towards long-term viability is ending his or her career in politics.

    Sure, they are your children and your grandchildren, but so what? Now that they've grown past early childhood they aren't so cute anymore anyway. That makes it easy to treat them like you hate their guts even if you don't know you hate them. If you faithfully practice the points outlined in this document, then soon any guilt you might feel over what you've left for them to inherit will melt away and be replaced by an insatiable sense of entitlement. In the event this should fail, the constant coverage of the current pointless foreign war that the flower of our youth is going off to fight will serve as an excellent distraction.
  2. Run a homeowner's association. As a retiree, it's not like you have to work for a living anymore. You've got some time on your hands. What better way to use it than to take your neighbors to court over such worthy matters as the difference between white paint and off-white paint? Those bastards should have read and memorized their 100-page homeowner's covenant before daring to modify their own property. As an added bonus, any time they spend in court and not at work means even less opportunity to pay off the debts you've left for them to inherit. Any monies they pay as a result of losing the lawsuits serves the same goal, so it's a two-for-one!
  3. Drive very slowly, particularly on one-lane roads where it's difficult or impossible to safely pass you. Every time you do this means one more chance to make it hard for someone to get to work on time. That way, not only is a significant chunk of their paycheck taken from them to pay for your retirement and your medical care, but as an added bonus you add insult to this injury by hindering them from getting to work in the first place so they can make the money that pays for your expenses! That'll teach 'em. Whatever you do, don't ever pull over and allow the ten cars stuck behind you to pass, especially not when they have a clock to beat and you don't.
  4. When you are a customer at a restaurant, grocery store, technical support line, or the like, be as helpless as possible. Your goal is to be a really high-maintainence customer. Sure, you could demonstrate that with your age has come wisdom, but that wouldn't make you feel important and special. Instead, ask a lot of stupid questions that you'd already know the answer to if you noticed the most obvious of cues. Ask for a lot of trivial changes to a product before you will buy it. Demand a lot of extra effort and attention from whoever is trying to serve you. Transform from "sweet old grandma" to "mega-bitch" in a split-second if such attention is not immediately granted. Do not, under any circumstances, notice that all the other customers behind you are waiting.

    When it's time to pay, write out a check and take your sweet time about it. Even though you knew what store you were going to visit, DO NOT under any circumstances prepare the check in advance by filling out everything except the dollar amount.
  5. This is another important point. Perform all of the above faithfully and consistently. Then whine about how misguided the younger generation is as though you didn't have anything to do with that. Complain that they don't respect you. Act absolutely astonished that anyone would see you doing all of the above and would respond with anything other than gratitude, praise, and admiration. That will add an element of mindfuck to the heretofore material damage covered by the previous points. It's especially effective if you have the compulsive liar's talent of learning how to sincerely believe this as you say it. You can complain about how "back in my day" the youth were better/more submissive/kinder than today's youth while conveniently forgetting that the elders of that generation actually tried to give their children a better world than they grew up in. It is advised that you set your irony detector to "off" while doing this, however.

By faithfully following these steps, you too can be a typical American old geezer.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868066)

I live in a hurricane zone in Florida. The joy of a water tank is that it will not flood. Flooding is perhaps the greatest hazard of hurricanes. Some storms drop tremendous amounts of water and if those storms are moving slowly they can stay overhead for a solid week. Huge rains accompanies by abnormally high tides with storm surges as well all lead to a sudden aquatic environment. It can get very deadly at times.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (2, Interesting)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#33869530)

I worked at Eckerd College, in St. Pete, back in late '90's/early 00's. Now, this school is right on the inter-coastal waterway (has it's own private beach) and about 2' above sea level. Man, ever try unracking every farking server in a small school and man handling them up through an uncooled attic opening, there to be wrapped in multiple layers of plastic? In the summer?!!!

They finally got funds to build a real data center (instead of using old admin offices on ground level) and now the machines are at least 25' above sea level. Won't do much for a direct hit, as entire spit of land school's on will likely be washed away but luckily, Tampa Bay area seems to mostly lucky, when it comes to hurricanes.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866162)

Well actually, if they would fill it with pure water that would give no problems. Doesn't conduct electricity and it will cool those servers down.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (2, Informative)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866234)

The energy costs etc. of keeping it pure enough to not conduct would far exceed the energy costs of sufficient AC.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866342)

Vegetable oil and lard both have very low conductivities. But then you would need a sysadmin who is SCUBA qualified AND doesn't mind swimming in oil or pig fat.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (3, Interesting)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866456)

Mineral oil is better because it's inorganic and therefore won't go rancid.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866670)

Time to get my vision checked, I guess. First time through I read that as "and therefore won't go racial."

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868212)

Water is inorganic, oils of all types are organic. The term "organic" basically means it has carbon in it. It has little bearing on whether or not things grow in it if you leave it out.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (2, Informative)

pantherace (165052) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866888)

You could use Fluorinert and avoid having to deal with purity, but that would still far exceed the cost given the one time I got a price on it...

Apparently, it's sold more widely now, so at $40 per 5 mL, to fill the 770,000 gallons... $23,318,136,600

(Probably cheaper in bulk) I wonder about Google going to this someday.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (1)

PsyciatricHelp (951182) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867978)

Pure Water leads to other issues. H2O is not a happy molecule and tends to rip ions from other atoms to stabilize itself. AKA Pure water + electricity lead to very fast rusting. Not too mention the Electrolysis. Though that could then be used for a fuel cell.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (1)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868138)

> Doesn't conduct electricity and it will cool those servers down.

Pure distilled water certainly does conduct electricity! Throw a hair dryer or toaster in it and it will go bang. The hope you'd have of keeping equipment up and running in water is to keep the high voltage power supplies out of the way. 12 and 5V lines probably won't be affected much but 110V and 240V PSUs will simply go bang the second they hit the water.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868996)

No, it doesn't.

Look it up. Truly pure water conducts NO electricity. However, trace minerals and metals in the water do conduct electricity. And since it is nearly impossible to get straight H2O, this is not feasible.

But if it were kept entirely pure you could dump all the toasters you wanted into it.

Re:And it's great for sysadmins (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867576)

Better, if IT doesn't make their deadlines you could threaten to close the doors and drowned them like rats in a bucket. Muaahahahahaha!

That's thinking outside the box (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866058)

Why didn't they just use some colo company and save a bunch of money on maintenance and headcount?

Re:That's thinking outside the box (2, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866102)

Why didn't they just use some colo company and save a bunch of money on maintenance and headcount?

(tongue-in-cheek) why not outsource outside USA? I heard some geos have much cheaper labor, that should be good for the town's budget.

Re:That's thinking outside the box (4, Insightful)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866106)

I'm betting that the warm fuzzies of having undeniable 24/7 access had some appeal. Plus the sense of control. A point of failure (the colo) is removed, The uncertainty of how the contract renewal is removed. And the jobs stay in town, which matters to government.

Lightning (-1, Troll)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866118)

Isn't a water tower made out of, ah, metal?

And don't they get these things called, ah, thunderstorms in Florida?

And don't thunderstorms produce these surges of static electricity called, ah - help me out here - ah, lightning?

And, ah, wouldn't lightning be attracted to all that metal stuff?

Seriously - I hope that somebody put some long hard thought into how they are going to try to ground this thing.

And what the heck kind of surge protectors are going to be sitting at the ingress and egress points.

Re:Lightning (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866132)

RTFA, it's made of 8" reinforced concrete. My bigger problem with the article was the use of optical media for archiving, get a real archival solution and use good tape like LTO.

Re:Lightning (1)

ebuck (585470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33870558)

Optical media is water resistant. You just dry it off and perhaps buff off any water spots. Try doing that with tape.

Re:Lightning (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866220)

Seriously - I hope that somebody put some long hard thought into how they are going to try to ground this thing.

Um, the cold water pipe?

Re:Lightning (2, Informative)

espiesp (1251084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866226)

Not all water tanks are metal. Plus, this is not a water TOWER. It's a water tank that sits on the ground. You didn't even have to RTFA, just had to look at the picture.

Re:That's thinking outside the box (1)

ebuck (585470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33870534)

Maybe because private enterprise can't be trusted with public (yet sensitive) data? Maybe because the other nearby companies are underwater during the same outage periods? Maybe because it actually costs more?

You can't assume that it's cheaper just because a corporation does it. With plenty of competition, sometimes the corporation is cheaper; but, that doesn't mean it's always cheaper (or that there is even sufficient competition in your area).

in the butt. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866062)

I'll bet almost nobody has ever put their datacenter up their girl's butt.

in my pocket, on my droid (3, Funny)

wagadog (545179) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866072)

...is more compute power, memory and disk than the Cray-2 I did my dissertation work on.

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866164)

...is more compute power, memory and disk than the Cray-2 I did my dissertation work on.

That's what she said about what's in my pocket too!

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866320)

Unless I'm misunderstanding my own processor, the AMD RM-70, which is a fairly recent processor if not remotely top of the scale, and pulls about 1.6 GFLOPS but why does it barely compare to...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cray-2 [wikipedia.org] which peaked at 1.9 GFLOPS .....in 1985??

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (2, Informative)

ndege (12658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866422)

...is more compute power, memory and disk than the Cray-2 I did my dissertation work on.

yes yes, but could you actually do your dissertation work on your droid today?

<rant>
I have heard many people claim things like, "my wristwatch has more power than a supercomputer in the 60's that took up an entire floor of the building". The next question to ask is, what did that computer that took so much space do? The response is something along the lines of, "it ran the payroll for 190k employees." I then ask if their wristwatch can run the payroll for 190k employees. Then it dawns on them that the old systems of yesteryear weren't quite so simple and trivial.
</rant>

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866442)

attach a bluetooth keyboard and I don't see why he can't write a dissertation on his droid... :P

Granted the wristwatch thing annoys me too.

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33867390)

attach a bluetooth keyboard and I don't see why he can't write a dissertation on his droid... :P

He can write the words, but can he do the research he's writing up?

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866600)

The point is not "My watch is a super-advanced high-tech piece of technology, especially compared to those simple and trivial old supercomputers."

It's "Computing power has advanced to the point where we can pack many times the power that used to take up a floor into a device that fits on my wrist and use it for something as trivial as telling the time, and it's cheap enough that I could buy it to own without breaking the bank besides. Isn't progress cool?"

And isn't it?

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33867040)

I have heard many people claim things like, "my wristwatch has more power than a supercomputer in the 60's that took up an entire floor of the building". The next question to ask is, what did that computer that took so much space do? The response is something along the lines of, "it ran the payroll for 190k employees." I then ask if their wristwatch can run the payroll for 190k employees. Then it dawns on them that the old systems of yesteryear weren't quite so simple and trivial.

Given enough memory and the proper firmware, certainly.

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868514)

Your rant has some merit on regarding a wristwatch. An Android phone? Not so much. For all intents and puroses it's a fully functional programmable computer (and programmable from a realistic standpoint, not from the "everything's programmable standpoint). Sure the input is a bit tedious compared to a full-sized keyboard, but on the other hand I'd wager it's a lot more friendly than punch-cards.

About the only major downside is the small screen, which is annoying, but doesn't limit capabilities in any significant way.

Basically, in this age we're well past the point where we're carrying around things that are "technically" computers. Today we really can carry a computer (in the practical, rather than technical sense) in our pockets.

Re:in my pocket, on my droid (1)

ebuck (585470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33870632)

You run your payroll for 190K employees on your cell phone? I didn't think so.

With transportation we seldom make the same mistakes we make with computers. All transportation is equivalent, but depending on distance, people to convey, time available, existing infrastructure, etc. some forms of transportation are infinitely superior.

Good luck having your employees submit all their time cards using your cell phone's touch screen keyboard. Just because they both compute doesn't mean they are equivalent until you remove all the requirements. A system with no requirements is not a used (or usable) system.

Totally off-topic (2, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866104)

I lived in Altamonte Springs for three years, working as a contractor in the area. Nice place, if a little on the warm side in August. :)

Re:Totally off-topic (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866156)

Could be ontopic... was worried about how it will handle refrigeration, and air circulation in its current shape, and if the place in August is hot maybe could be a problem there.

Re:Totally off-topic (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868052)

Well, there's always the Space Shuttle, couple miles away, as a backup

But yes, Altamonte is indeed nice as the GP says. For them balmy days, they could run with the top up, I guess.

Re:Totally off-topic (1)

spamking (967666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33869358)

But yes, Altamonte is indeed nice as the GP says. For them balmy days, they could run with the top up, I guess.

Or just open the hatch . . .

Strange places? (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866130)

How are this strange places? A data centre doesn't need windows, doesn't need easy highway access, doesn't need to sit next to the subway station or even close to high populated areas (close as in walking distance) - it's a bit like a "build and forget" kind of structure that are best kept a bit out of the way.

So you're naturally looking for cheap space, that is safe against the elements. Existing strong buildings come in play of course - like this water tank. Chapels are also often constructed well. Same for former bunkers and other underground locations like abandoned mines.

Yes it's interesting, maybe not obvious, but thinking about it this are not strange places but actually quite logical places to build your data centre. The only one that sounds strange to me is the shopping mall one. Space in shopping malls tends to be pretty expensive.

Re:Strange places? (1)

Slayer Silver Wolf (1861504) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866188)

Yes they don't need all those things but that doesn't make these locations any less strange. Also taking into account what they do need: good cooling, a dry environment, fairly easy access for personell, somewhere your average idiot isnt going to stumble in (as you said build and forget) as well as protection from the weather. I don't know about you but the last place I would ever think to find a data centre would be inside an old water tank or a Particle Accelerator some of these other locations aren't that strange though I do agree a shopping mall for example seems like a fairly normal place to house a data centre.

Re:Strange places? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868862)

Just wait until the server is still online, but nobody knows where the physical location is anymore. It'll be much fun trying to find them.

Re:Strange places? (1)

espiesp (1251084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866268)

Think run-down no longer profitable smaller shopping mall that gets completely bought out for the sole purpose of using it as a datacenter/office space. Unfortunately those malls are usually not in the best parts of town. Maybe that's good in a way because property is cheap and it's not bad for business.

Re:Strange places? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866310)

How are this strange places?

Well, let's see you try to squeeze an article out of this non-story!

Re:Strange places? (2, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866346)

The only one that sounds strange to me is the shopping mall one. Space in shopping malls tends to be pretty expensive.

The retail space, yeah. One of my first jobs was in a data center (mainframes, this was in the late 70s) in a shopping mall, in the basement. Maybe they got a break on the rent for helping heat the place ;-) (This was Ottawa, Canada -- they spend far more of the year heating living areas than cooling them.)

Re:Strange places? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867996)

Not lately, I'm afraid. Summer is longer than it used to be, and hotter. We've had temperatures in the 40's (celcius) much more often in the summer, and it doesn't get nearly as cold as it used to in the winter, either... three winters ago, I didn't even turn on the house furnace until mid-January.

Strange bedrooms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33867784)

Yes it's interesting, maybe not obvious, but thinking about it this are not strange places but actually quite logical places to build your data centre. The only one that sounds strange to me is the shopping mall one. Space in shopping malls tends to be pretty expensive.

I use to live there. That that particular area is depressed. Nice thing about that location aside from the easy access is it makes it easier to service the other surrounding businesses. Empty warehouses are another datacenter location.

The only strange location would be Taco's bedroom. :)

I too am building a data center... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866166)

...in your mom!

"Tapes are unreliable" (5, Insightful)

BaldingByMicrosoft (585534) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866198)

"Tapes are unreliable," DiGioia says. "Disaster recovery was nonexistent. It consisted of backup tapes in a box." ... "Backups are kept on disk for 30 days and then overwritten, and tape is no longer used. Documents are archived on optical disc and microfilm. "

...so, 30 days on a mirrored SAN. No monthlies, yearlies. Long term is on optical (what kind? Consumer media degrades... What's the retention target?) and microfilm (quaint).

So, the quick recovery offered by the mirrored SAN is sexy, with an appropriate price tag. Writing off tape entirely seems very wrong.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866246)

Agreed, another clueless soul bitten by AIT/DAT/DDS/QIC who will never understand real archival tape. If the data is worth anything (and government records are) then pony up a little bit of cash for a real tape solution. It might be as expensive as one or two of your servers but it's so worth it to actually have your data when you need it.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1)

ebuck (585470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33870782)

The disaster they most encounter and must recover from is hurricane induced flooding. Tapes do not perform well when wet. Optical media can be recovered from a flooded storage area. They are probably using a Optical Jukebox much like a tape library. Even if they lose the machine, they can unpack the other one (in a sealed plastic bag) and be running in under an hour. With tapes, the water will loosen the magnetic film, or provide enough adhesive properties as it dries to damage magnetic coatings where the tape comes in contact with itself. "Better tapes" means higher density which are more prone to damage.

That said, they might have gone with sealing their tapes in plastic bags when not in use. My guess is that such a practice relies on manpower and they've seen people slip up and not follow through with due diligence in the past.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866264)

Archives are overrated. Long Term (15+ years) archives are unreadable. Not because the media has gone bad, but rather the mechanisms aren't readily available. We have old media but no way of actually getting the data off. The data is mostly meaningless.

If you have to Archive something, print it out. If it isn't printable, it probably isn't worth archiving. And if it is worth archiving, you best make sure you're keeping the technology around that can read your archives.

Besides that, only data that is worth anything is live data. LTS Archives aren't worth much. Mostly used for CYA legal reasons.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866370)

Print it out? You've got to be joking. So someone can scan it in 5 years from now? The advantage of digital is you can move it to any storage medium you like without losing any quality. If it was data you cared about, you should have moved it to more modern equipment. Archives have to be taken care of; this is true of both analog and digital archives. Even stone degrades.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867170)

Why scan it in?

And printing it out isn't that bad an idea.

Most data that old is only for reference. Only needs to be read, never needs to be changed. It's kept for legal purposes ("look, I wrote that source code back in 1978! Here, a print-out of the then-current code base."), maybe for reference (checking old records).

Having it digital rarely helps - having it printed out at least prevents accusations of easy tampering, and gives you a copy that 20 years from now is surely readable (provided you take proper care of the medium). Those 3.5" floppies I have lying about at home I can't read any more! No computer with FDD.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33867612)

A CNC drill machine can work with an accuracy of less then a milimeter error. That means you could take a sheet or stainless steel and use one to drill or not-drill one million holes on a 10cm square. 125KB. Eight of those would store a novel - and it would still be readable in a hundred years, with nothing more than a magnifying glass. Make the plates out of gold and put them in a good box and safe place, and they'll be readable in a million years. How is that for long-term reliability?

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#33871884)

More likely the 3.5 inch floppies themselves have gone bad. Floppy disks go bad. Newer CDRs and DVDRs do not last too long. For some reason the CDRs i burned back in 1996, 1997 still work fine while the CDRs and DVDRs from last year are falling apart.

I would still say tape is the way to go. Also if you back something up and forget about it until you need it. You may be doing something wrong. As the medium changes shouldn't one also change the archives to the newer medium? I.E. Your long term backups are on LTO2 tapes. A LTO3 drive and tapes come in. You should restore your long term LTO2 data. Then back it up on LTO3 tapes. Then you archive the long term LTO3 data. LTO4 come in, do the process again. It is time consuming and seems like a waste of time and resources. You are keeping your data on 'current' back up mediums. Also you are moving to newer tapes which in theory should last longer then the older ones. Having to restore and then backup the archive data while not under the gun is a lot less stressful.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866544)

Longterm archives are unreadable after 15 years? I disagree: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.01/nasa.html True, they never found the tapes they were looking for, but that's due to poor archival processes in the past. They were able to get the data off every tape they found which is how they know they never found the tapes they (and we) wanted. Properly maintained archives will last a long, long time.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868954)

Archives are overrated. Long Term (15+ years) archives are unreadable. Not because the media has gone bad, but rather the mechanisms aren't readily available. We have old media but no way of actually getting the data off. The data is mostly meaningless.

I have 30 year old archives that are readable. You're doing it wrong.

Four or five years ago I moved them from 9-track streamer to redundant, removeable SCSI disks.

Next iteration, in another five years or so, will probably be USB disks and rsync.net.

I can read all of it and it's completely meaningful.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866284)

Tape really is unreliable. Spinning media, never more than a couple years old and replicated over a network to more spinning media in distant places, is the most reliable thing we've got. And it has to be kept on a current software system!

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867186)

Can you still read old WordPerfect 5.1 files reliably? Or MS Word 5 files?

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868022)

Yes... but that's because the current version of Office has import filters for both formats...

Reading floppies that they're on? Not so much. But as it happens, those documents were transferred to IDE hard drives years ago, and have since found their way onto my network hard drive.

Printing them out is still far more reliable, though. Anything that's important enough to store is important enough to store in a medium that'll still be readable 100 years from now.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868038)

Sure can, just install the relevant software in a VM.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866294)

Consumer media degrades

Stop using crap media and you won't have that problem. I have 6 year-old consumer DVDs that still scan with under 15 parity inner errors (PIE) per 8 ECC blocks. That's nearly flawless. DVDs should be readable by all specification compliant drives until they reach 280 PIE per 8 ECC blocks.

Re:"Tapes are unreliable" (2, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867240)

I run a network of two servers for a primary school, and even I have remote site NAS backup and bi-monthly tape archives, rolling semi-annually. It's not just the kids work (which is for all intents and purposes of sentimental value only); Financial records, HR, medical, disciplinary, software and hardware configuration time... Jeebus, I'd feel naked without a decent backup system!

Grain Solo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866204)

What? No grain solo? I've heard of plans for a grain solo in Australia to be turned into one.

Do these people know nothing? (3, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866258)

Don't put your data centers in caves, mines, hurricane proof water tanks, etc.

When the time comes that we need to unplug skynet, you are just making things hard.

Re:Do these people know nothing? (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866590)

Hard...or thrilling? I vote the next major data-center-put-into-a-news-worthy-location be put into a volcano.

Re:Do these people know nothing? (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866716)

How do you keep the volcano sated? Throw an intern (obviously a virgin) into it once a month or something?

Take 10inches off those walls (5, Informative)

enoz (1181117) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866282)

Summary is inaccurate (as usual):

TFS: 18-inch walls
TFA: 8-inch walls

I think I got this email before (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866686)

Be the new you! Add or subtract 10 inches to your server room walls now!

!!! www.v1agra-weigthloss-dietextension-serveroom.ru !!!

Re:Take 10inches off those walls (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866848)

you read it wrong. It's:

TFA: 8-inch walls
TFS: 18-ch walls

same thing.

8 or 18? No natural heat sink? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866286)

The article states 8" concrete walls, although 18" makes sense as it is about the practical minimum if you design for crack protection. A concrete building is a natural for disaster protection, nothing too outlandish there. The last firm I worked for built a concrete vault for their server room, complete with bank vault door.

Although a working water storage tank would be way more fun, basically using the water system as a giant heat sink!

Failure to plan ahead? (2, Interesting)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866362)

From the picture caption in TFA: The city's water tank data center: Wings were added to each side, one for networking equipment, the other for administrative offices.

And in the body of TFA: Compared with the old setup, the new infrastructure offers improved uptime and superior disaster recovery capabilities. and The emergency operation center was shut down also because there wasn't infrastructure in place to support Internet access during a storm

So then exactly why is the networking equipment outside of the protected space?

Much better than new tank into old data center (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866392)

The Florida town of Altamonte Springs has converted an old water storage tank into a new data center.

Good thing they didn't convert a new water storage tank into an old data center.

Inevitable Onion headline (4, Funny)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866400)

"Area Data Center Actually Located in Data Center Facility; IT Experts Confused, Baffled"

Editors on the job as usual (0, Redundant)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#33866404)

The dome-shaped tank offered 8-inch-thick walls of reinforced concrete and was

8, 18, close enough I guess.

Re:Editors on the job as usual (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33866940)

The dome-shaped tank offered 8-inch-thick walls of reinforced concrete and was

8, 18, close enough I guess.

Try using that argument to defend a statutory rape case!

Re:Editors on the job as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33875246)

I'm not sure I'd necessarily want to invoke ten inches in *any* kind of rape case.

Air Jordan 1 shoes (0, Offtopic)

aotian (1915400) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867142)

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Re:Air Jordan 1 shoes (1)

bendytendril (1281160) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868142)

Are you suggesting I relocate my data center to a pair of Air Jordan shoes? I think that'd be getting off on the wrong foot.

Strange places? (2, Insightful)

RichiH (749257) | more than 3 years ago | (#33867534)

DCs are not moving into strange places. It's just that people are starting to realize that _any_ large and reasonably well-built structure is suitable as a DC. Electric power is usually a given, AC can almost always be installed and then you are down to "is it cheaper to get (redundant) fiber to this old structure or to build a new DC".

That's the beauty of a DC. The computers in there don't care where they are.

Better than these locations ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33868160)

Used to work for a "very large worldwide telecom" company that has a badly placed data center:
- hurricane zone
- flood plane
- end of an international airport runway

The good news is that data center is not used for any internal applications anymore.
The bad news is web hosting is provided there - of course, they charge premium rates since they are "the name."

The same company has another actively used data center over a public parking garage. It is used for both internal and external applications. I took the tour of that facility and as the manager talked about state of the art security, generators, networking, power from multiple substations and fuel priority just behind the local trauma center ... all I could think of was the parking garage and a packed van destroying all the servers.

To be fair, the new company purchased another company to get these assets.

Proof that politics is more important than intelligence. Data center engineers need to have larger balls and be part of the location decisions BEFORE they are made.

Just Doing His Job (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33868678)

Not to detract from DiGioia drastically improving the city's IT infrastructure and delivery, but how is this any different from the jobs thousands of IT managers/admins do every year? We're always looking to improve and re-use existing resources.

I think the real story here is "previous IT manager was a major failure; ignored technology for 10 years." I didn't see anything truly innovative about what DiGioia did. I guess what also must be newsworthy is getting a city to part with that much money for that big of an overhaul. That's the real accomplishment.

Cooling (1)

habig (12787) | more than 3 years ago | (#33870238)

I've often wondered why anyone would bother building a data center in a warm place like Florida. You double your power bill - paying once to use the power, and again to air condition the resulting heat away.

Put the same equipment up north, and for much of the year you just have to open a window. Or, duct the waste heat over to an adjacent facility occupied by humans who will pay to use the hot air.

No hurricanes to worry about, either.

Re:Cooling (1)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33871320)

cooling is only part of the problem. There are tons of data centers in the Arizona desert region, where temperatures can be over 110F for months straight. But they put them here anyway because insurance and disaster preparedness is dirt cheap enough to offset power cost. Natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and forest fires rarely pose a threat to property there.
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