Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

North Slope Server Farm

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the shades-of-an-alistair-maclean-novel dept.

The Internet 151

A nameless cringer writes: "Netricity proposes an Internet data storage center on Alaska's North Slope to take advantage of the isolation (maybe a polar bear would break in), cold (easy to A/C; just open some vents to the outside), and abundant natural gas to run the generators. There's already a fat pipe running down the Alaska Pipeline to 'america.' Oil pipeline & data pipeline -- two good targets ... " And like anything else about the North Slope, raises hard-to-answer questions about the preservation of nature vs. human comfort.

cancel ×

151 comments

Re:Raid-Earth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#223798)

Yea but how likely is it that some dipshit in a backhoe is going to be out in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness digging up your fiber? Oh wait, nevermind. Backhoes must be magnetically attracted to fiber. :-)

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#223799)

I repeat, stronger than last time. No. [...] Note: I'm an east-coast lower 48er.

I repeat: Go away, you Lower 48er environmentalist whacko luser. You don't have to live in Alaska: you've probably never been here. You've just swallowed some eco-terrorist propaganda about how precious our hunk of frozen tundra is. You're as clueless as the people who're wondering about volcanoes on the North Slope.

Just because you dweebs down there screwed up your own backyards doesn't mean that you have some "been there, done that" morally superior position from which you can dictate to Alaska on how to balance environmentalism and economics.

You want to talk to Alaska from the environmental high ground? Fix your own back yards, and stop trying to meddle in ours.

Fat Pipe to "America" (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#223800)

That fat pipe runs to the "Southern" coast of Alaska... no further... either they are going to have to run fiber to the lower 48 (submarine cable or down ALCAN)... or have to do a satellite shot.. and satellite shots to Geosynchronous Satellites... from far North Lattitudes.... isn't the same cup of tea as from lower 48... if you don't understand the phenomena alluded to in this posting... then you don't know SHF RF in general or the dynamics of Satellite Links... from any perspective... Look it up... the Russians use Molnya (sp) orbits for Satellite comms... very different approach to business than GeoSync orbits..

Temperatures (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#223801)

You're a god-damned idiot. If you would bother to read the documentation, it says that it's good to -40 Farenheit. Jesus fucking christ. I mean, it's not like -40 C and -40 F are the same god damned temperature.

Idiot.

"Two good targets..."? (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 13 years ago | (#223802)

Why are slashdot readers paranoid about *everything*?

- A.P.

--
Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

It isn't *always* cold up there (2)

rlk (1089) | more than 13 years ago | (#223804)

As far as ambient cooling, it's easy to forget that it can get fairly warm up there for 2-3 months of the year. The record high in Barrow, at the extreme northern tip of Alaska on the coast, is 78F. Inland (except at high elevation) it's going to be somewhat higher, and the normal summer temperatures will be substantially higher (Barrow's normal diurnal temperature range in mid-July is 34-46F). So there will definitely need to be air conditioning -- very substantial air conditioning -- for the 1-5% of the year when the temperature exceeds 50F. The daily insolation up there is also very high, due to the continuous daylight in the summer, even if the sunlight's weaker than at lower latitudes.

To take this to extremes, the average annual temperature in Verhojansk, Russia is about 2F. Problem is that the record low is about -90, but the record high is 98F, which is probably a bit higher than the record high in Key West. Average case planning isn't enough; they've got to take into account worst cases, too. That means figuring out what to do up to temperatures of maybe 85F or higher.

Dumping excess heat in the permafrost isn't a very good solution, either. Ice isn't a terribly efficient conductor of heat (neither is stagnant water), so it will simply melt the permafrost. That's bad news, because suddenly you're sitting on top of a swamp and your foundation isn't much good. Not to mention that it's messy environmentally, too. I believe the pipeline and associated structures are well-insulated, as much to protect the permafrost as to keep the oil flowing.

It might actually make more sense to do this in Valdez, at the southern terminus -- it's a lot more accessible, it's still fairly cold most of the year, and the ocean is available as a heat sink all year round (the ocean up there is pretty cold at all times).

Not so good idea (2)

nerdin (1330) | more than 13 years ago | (#223806)

You have to think about earthquakes and volcanos: Alaska is not very friendly about that. Winter storms aren't precisely friendly.
Whoever has this plan, also has a very romantic idea of Alaska.
I think there are better places in North Russia, Norway, or Canada.

Re:Preservation of nature vs. Human comfort? (2)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 13 years ago | (#223808)

Indeed Lord Ender, I've been running this same argument for years. As a philosophy major, I have honed my acceptable definition of the word 'nature' to the following:

  • Precise: 1. Whatever exists. 2. the set of all extant of which a tiny subset is dubbed artificial.
  • Colloquial: 1. Some warm fuzzy feeling about the good old days before we people screwed everything up. 2. generally meant as an antonym of artificial.

Probable reasons for continued use of the poor colloquial definition: Locke's state of nature hypothesis. biblical notion of a pre-Fall more natural, i.e., better, state. the historical etymology from the Latin for born suggesting that what is there at the conception [of a thing, e.g., the earth] is what is natural, i.e., better, than what is unnatural [or artificial], i.e., worse.

Street Creds - Yeah yeah, this sure looks like a poststructuralist account. Sorry about that, but a deconstruction, a genealogy, is occasionally useful, especially when dealing with such an obvious case of origin (see Derrida). That said, I am all about the precise usage of this word and generally prefer a different warm and fuzzy term for our simpler terran coinhabitants and the sorts of environment and ecology they each require for survival.

-l

n.b.- I have intentionally avoided any argument for or against protection of environments relatively devoid of artificial structures.

Re:pitfalls (2)

Genom (3868) | more than 13 years ago | (#223809)

Things like thousands of miles of data cables. Never mind that you might want to hook up not just to North America, but also to Asia and Europe. Enviromental factors in terms of the cold effect on equipment. Effects from Solar Storms (northern lights, etc)

Eh...ditch the thousands of miles of data cables and use a sattelite uplink. Encrypted, of course. The auroras might give some problems with this though - I'm no expert in that field, but it would seem to me that they might have some effect. Perhaps a way to utilize the periodic auroras could be found (ok, now I'm just getting silly and speculating)

Now that I'm thinking about it, why not start junking the old obsolete sattelites up there and replacing 'em with sattelite-based data storage...oh...wait...NASA's too busy watching coffee grow...dang.

Re:pitfalls (2)

Genom (3868) | more than 13 years ago | (#223810)

Hrmm..problem is the infrastructure is expensive and involves burying the cables, which is extremely poor for the environment, etc...etc...etc...

Wireless seemed like a good idea, but if what you say is true, traditional sattelite methods wouldn't work too well.

Sounds like we need something new to be able to do this well. Grr... And Alaska seemed so perfect a location for this type of thing. Maybe a giant spike at the rotational North Pole...nah ;P

The idea of orbital datahavens still sounds good to me though - too bad it'll never happen.

Local Talent? (1)

BooRadley (3956) | more than 13 years ago | (#223811)

Are they gonna hire the systems and network gurus for this brilliant project from the local population (think "Northern Exposure") or are they going to structure salaries and benefits to entice some pot smoking sysadmin to move due North from the Valley? :)

I wouldn't mind the gig, but I think I'd freeze my nuts off. Hard to imagine the good aspects to watching a bunch of servers in a place where the main hobbies are alcoholism and insomnia.

Wait a minute. That sounds like my current gig! Where do I sign up?

Re:Natural cooling (1)

bcboy (4794) | more than 13 years ago | (#223812)

>Remember, it's the cost per megawatt that counts and solar isn't cost competative yet even if you could run a data center on only solar.

Solar is very cost competative, especially when you factor in things that aren't explictly in the price of fossil fuels: cost of clean-up, quality of life, and the cost of maintaining a dependence on foreign oil. Protecting interests in foreign oil is very, very expensive.

The U.S could have spent far less simply by investing in renewables.

No penguins? (3)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 13 years ago | (#223813)

I think this plan is silly. Everyone knows there are no penguins in the northern hemisphere, no matter how cold it may be. Here's my proposed solution:

Buy hundreds of laptops and fit them with wireless LAN cards. Remove the standard casing and put the insides into a penguin-shaped case. Put wheels powered by an electric on the bottom of each penguin and let them loose at the South Pole. You now have highly redundant, mobile, distributed data storage. If you can't visualize what I mean, watch a few episodes of the Batman TV series, I'm sure at least one must feature motorized penguins running amok.

The only question is what OS to run on these servers.

Why not just bury it? (2)

crovira (10242) | more than 13 years ago | (#223816)

No need to go that far out of town.

Soil maintains a constant temperature. Several thousand feet of it give an enormous thermal mass.

Put server farms in played-out salt mines (they're already being used for document storage.) The holes, really BIG holes, are already there.

Its dry, secure as Hell (you'd literally have to tunnel through thousand foot thick firewalls,) and you can put a power generating station near the opening.

Re:What about the sysadmin? (2)

Saono (12019) | more than 13 years ago | (#223817)

The slope is already fully armed with sysadmin, tech support staff and everything else needed to survive for the oil company purposes. It wouldn't take much to lure more techies up there especially for a hosting company of some sort.

Most permanent employees on the slope (aka north slope) work on shifts. Commonly a shift such as two weeks on, two weeks off. The average workday is officially 12 hours for most people but depending on your job/company/etc. it can be anywhere from 12-16. And yes, no weekends while you are up, you work 7 days a week.

The advantages of this system? Unless you are a smoker you don't have to spend a single dime while you are up north (at oil fields alcohol is banned). At least working for the oil companies they supply everything from food/soda/snacks to living facilities and exercise areas. Then when you come home you are off... no office, no nothing. you can sleep all day and stay up all night and travel at any point as long as you are back at the airport to catch the plane to head back up for work (oh ya, the planes are normally company covered too). For someone who is a roamer or likes having large chunks of time off this is great. 6 months a year off of work and with many companies you continue to accrue normal vacation time too which is an extra bonus.

Many like the wages, depending on the company its just like any other job, good, bad or otherwise but the thing that really pumps people up is the overtime since its 4 hours a day guaranteed and you are working 7 days a week so there is even more in there.

Anyway, its not that bad. For me I like sleeping in my own bed but my experiences with the slope as a whole have been good. Lots of rules to follow (usually with good reason) but its a pretty nifty way to live for many people.

With what I just said - its not a problem to lure people to the slope. Pay them well, tell them they will get all the soda and snack food you can stuff in their faces and that they will have 6 months off a year and they will come. Oh yes, they will come.

-Alan

Re:Natural cooling (1)

swb (14022) | more than 13 years ago | (#223818)

There's a convenience store in northern Minnesota, that's supposedly heated and cooled almost entirely by a large supply of ground water which is cycled through a heat exchanger.

I'm not sure how much supplemental heat they have to use in the winter (-30F is not uncommon), but they're apparently able to run the coolers and the building A/C exclusively off of the ground water.

Now if you could just steal enough electricity from the phone lines, you could run the heat pumps for free..

Big $$$ (2)

Jethro73 (14686) | more than 13 years ago | (#223819)

Having lived in Alaska for 3 years, I can tell you, it is going to cost big bucks. I have been waiting patiently for this to happen, though... the location is ideal.

On the upside, there was a wealth of good tech talent up there that can be had relatively cheaply. Hell, I would go back up there for a while to help with that. (Still have family up there anyway)... where can I send my resume? 8^)

Jethro

Re:Natural cooling (1)

Hesperus (16733) | more than 13 years ago | (#223821)

Remember, it's the cost per megawatt that counts and solar isn't cost competative yet even if you could run a data center on only solar.

I beg to differ. The price of solar energy has been lower than the price of fossil fuels for a couple of years now.

And what's more... if you live or do business in California the state will share the cost of installation.

http://www.AltEStore.com/cart/ [altestore.com]
____________________________________

There is no Alaska Pipline to 'america' (2)

Monkey (16966) | more than 13 years ago | (#223822)

There currently is no oil or LNG (Liquid Natural Gas)pipeline to the lower 48 as the post implies. Perhaps the poster was referring to the 800 mile Trans-Alaska Pipline>which runs from the North Slope to Valdez where it is shipped via tanker (remember the Exxon Valdez?) to the lower 48 and refineries in the Virgin Islands. [alaska.net]


Presently, there are negotiations underway to run a full blown LNG pipeline down either the Alaska Highway or through the Mackenzie Valley in Canada's Northwest Territories from the North Slope to the lower 48. Like any project of this scale, there are many legal and environmental issues that have to be resolved before this happens.


Incidentally, a data center of this size would require more bandwidth than the entire state of Alaska has running into it.

They'll HAVE to run Unix (1)

bluestar (17362) | more than 13 years ago | (#223823)

Who's going to mount an Arctic expedition just to hit Ctl-Alt-Del every time NT crashes? Talk about your Blue screens...

Sign me up for a gig! (2)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#223824)

But only if I can admin remotely.

I guess the current job, er, climate makes this the best time in the last decade to float such a scheme though.

--
Poliglut [poliglut.com]

Re:Natural cooling (2)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#223825)

generate some electricity, not nearly enough, but enough solar panels around will help the situation a lot.

The one thing Bush got right was that the problem right now is that there is more demand than supply. He says that means we must explore more and relax environmental standards so we can build up our production capabilities. You say conservation is the way to go.

I say, you're both wrong.

We need to do both of what you guys say, but neither will solve the problem.

The problem was demand exceeding supply. That situation did not come about because we didn't have enought conservation, nor becuase of environmental concerns. The problem came about because energy was so cheap in the early 90's that there was no money in building power plants. There are many now under way (see this [poliglut.com] story on Poliglut for a graph of the last twenty years), but the reason demand exceeded supply was because there was no money in building new plants for a while and that even now that there is, it takes a while to build them.

P.S. None of this should be taken as an argument against conservation, just that it's a fools paradise to believe it would have helped CA this time.

--
Poliglut [poliglut.com]

Re:Summers are hot there (3)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#223826)

Alaskan summers are nice and warm with mean temp of 75 degrees.

Huh? Anchorage (one of the warmer parts of Alaska), for example, only averages above 65 for nine days in the heat of July, after that it's all downhill.

On the North Slope things are much colder. That same July peak only has them at 46.


--
Poliglut [poliglut.com]

Re:Natural cooling (5)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#223827)

Who marked this insightful? Maybe funny, but really!

a. Don't build them in hot climates.

This is the only legit part of the post. Of course, if the cost of energy is less than the cost of labor (remember that a lot of the labor is in hot climates!) then hot climates still make a lost of sense. Labor is your largest cost after all.

b. If you do build them in hot climates you should have to build a large solar panel array on the top of the facility.

That's great as a throw away comment. That solar array isn't going to give you nearly the power you need, nor produce it efficiently. Remember, it's the cost per megawatt that counts and solar isn't cost competative yet even if you could run a data center on only solar.

c. When it's cold outside, open the windows. Nothing is dumber than having the air conditioning on in the winter! If dust bothers you, suck in outside air and filter it.

Think climate control, not air conditioning. The moisture is important too. Opening windows (except in a desert and you already said we can't build there) will corrode all your systems. In the colder days you talk about the air conditioners are very efficient in terms of heat transfer and act mostly as humidity control.

d. In hot climates build them underground. Once you get a few feet down the earth's crust is actually pretty cool. Extend large heat sinks into the surrounding terrain to use the earth's natural cooling.

Once again you have a decent idea for homes, but it doesn't scale to the energy requirements of a data center.

e. the source of the problem is the heat generated by equipment, why not design coller equipment instead? This is possible, there just is a lack of motivation to do it

They have. One P4 throwing off 50 watts, but running 200 web servers is a lot more efficient thatn 200 486's.

--
Poliglut [poliglut.com]

Re:Comfort only matters if you go outdoors (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 13 years ago | (#223828)

In order to keep your feng shui aligned properly, you SHOULD be concerned about views and climate.

-Chris
...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...

Re:No. (2)

Xenu (21845) | more than 13 years ago | (#223829)

Get over it. Alaska is not your personal nature preserve. Too many tree huggers in the lower 48, make that the urban areas of the lower 48, think that every piece of federal land should be turned into a national park. Screw the people who actually live there. They should be content with being allowed to contemplate the natural splendor of the wilderness. So what if they don't have self determination, jobs or a functioning local economy. All miners and lumberjacks are environmental rapists.

Re:What about the sysadmin? (2)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 13 years ago | (#223830)

An orgy room? Oh yeah, that's exactly what *I* want to see in such a facility.

"Oh My God! Who shaved the fucking walruses?"

What about the sysadmin? (5)

tenor (29482) | more than 13 years ago | (#223831)

Sure it is well-cooled and isolated. But who exactly is going to sys admin a site on the North Slope? How much will you have to pay to have a nerd give up his life to administer that site? Think about it: no women, no electronics superstore, no Borders, no cops, no boss on site, unfettered access to pr0n, nobody watching,... wait a minute, maybe it won't be that hard to find someone after all...

j

Re:What about the sysadmin? (2)

timothy (36799) | more than 13 years ago | (#223833)

Oh, I dunno ... there are places that sound similarly confining (see HavenCo [havenco.com] ;)) and if you like snow, darkness and books, it might not be so bad.

More importantly, though, it should be staffed like the Enterprise, with a co-ed crew made up only of attractive youngish people from all races in skin-tight clothing.

With 1/2 a million (!! could that have been a typo?!!) servers, they could probably due with a small colony of sysadmins, build a small orgy room, holodeck, etc.

timothy

No real impact on nature (5)

Calimus (43046) | more than 13 years ago | (#223835)

There really wont be any impact on the animal life in the area if this site goes up. I have a relative that worked on the North Slope for many years in the employ of the oil corp. While he was there he filmed the wild life and the effect that the oil facilitied had on them as well as human presence.

Many were shocked to find that after the construction was finished the wildlife moved right back in and hardly payed the large pipes any attention. While they will keep their distance from humans they seem to care less about all the steel and concreat.

As for who would stay up there and for how long, my relatives shift was 3 weeks up at the slope and 2 weeks at home and the company flew him there and back. He always seemed to like the schedule as he felt like he was always getting a 2 week vacation.

The only real problems I can see with something liek this is hardware breakage and replacement. If something goes down and there isn't a replacement on site, it could take a few days pending on a few factors.

1. Availability of a replacement
2. Shipping time to a staging point (Usualy Ancorage)
3. Flight time (weather is a massive factor here as the cross to the slope is well into the arctice circle and the plane must cross the Brooks Range)

Other then those areas, the only other thing I could suggest is that there be 3-4 ppl on site all the time since human interaction is a must even for the most anti-social person in a place like that where going outside could mean facing -70+ temps and everyting is all white for most of the year.

Re:Tell the SA's they are in training for MARS (1)

Sogol (43574) | more than 13 years ago | (#223836)

this sounds exactly like my job now except for the trip to Mars bit.

"Preservation of nature"??!! (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 13 years ago | (#223839)

And like anything else about the North Slope, raises hard-to-answer questions about the preservation of nature vs. human comfort.

"Preservation of nature"??!! Render unto me a ****ing break!


A datacenter isn't even on the same order of magnitude as other, probably more vital, things we're doing in Alaska. On the grand scale of things, it's hardly even a blip. Only the most rabid, anti-development environmentalist would even consider the idea that it might be a problem. $DEITY save us from rabid environmentalists.
--

issues with this (2)

joq (63625) | more than 13 years ago | (#223844)

Wouldn't this be more of a target out in the wild? Think about it, if your a company who's going to (fall for this `plan') wouldn't you think someone would have an easier time breaking into some place where they probably have about > 25 law enforcement agents, most of whom are likely not trained properly (not to troll, but think about some high tech espionage case) what are they gonna do call for Gentle Ben or something?

Might sound like a cool idea but I think it has issues. Sweden, Norway, and parts of Finland (their nothern parts) have equally cool places full of the resources too, maybe the EU should jump at the idea. Maybe not, when the crap hits the fan who are you going to turn to an Eskimo who only knows fishing and shit?

They should set up a colo space in meat market like environments filled with freon cooled rack spaces powered by potatoes is what I think somewhere in Idaho

Summers are hot there (2)

selectspec (74651) | more than 13 years ago | (#223846)

Alaskan summers are nice and warm with mean temp of 75 degrees. And of course 24 hours of daylight. So this facillity will have to have air as well as heat. Plus, if something goes wrong during a storm, the admin had better live in the building.

Re:Summers are hot there (2)

selectspec (74651) | more than 13 years ago | (#223847)

Wow, I stand corrected in a pile of FUD. The national weather service puts gives Fairbanks a mean temp of 63 F in July. I've been to Alaska several times in the summer, and it was really warm when it wasnt raining. Anyway, sorry about the fud.

No. (1)

walnut (78312) | more than 13 years ago | (#223848)

I repeat, stronger than last time. No.

Alaska is one of the last few true wildernesses in the United States. There is enough of an ecological threat to the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) from oil drilling, that tech-heads, imbuing urbanesque idealized idiocy need not contribute to the generalized threat to Alaska. Consider the ramifications of your actions to a fragile eco-system. Yes, cool weather is ideal for storage, but think about the infrastructure necessary to support such a data warehouse. Think about the land, think about the number of people which would be needed to maintain both the data warehouse and the line between there and the rest of the world.

Yes, there is significant less ecological damage which a data warehouse specifically puts out than an oil drill, but you are still making an impact on the environment. Don't think in terms of local economic boosts, but think in terms of world environmental responsobility. We've already ruined a good portion of the lower 48 with overly congested highways, air pollution, and our ideals. Most of us have already entered into volounteer slavery to the allmighty dollar. Don't foist these mistakes on one of the last true paradises based on economic greed for both the corporations and the tech-centric living in the lower 48 (and elsewhere).

Backpackers, environmentalists, and nature lovers in general have generally adopted a leave no trace philosophy, bent on maintainig the natural beauty of the land. Thousands of people spend many hours volounteering each year to repair simple hiking trails, which are well overgrown with people. Forget what sounds cool. Consider the consequences. We have as much a responsibility to maintaining the environment as we try to convice Brazil they do, when they slash and burn portions of the amazon. Alaska is one of the last few places in the US which is truly wild. Its not like we're taking an existing structure and refurbishing or rebuilding it, this requires entirely new construction on a massive scale. The pipeline already has caused major migration shifts for caribou and other animals. This is NOT like dropping in an alaskan office for IBM.

Just because the dotcom-mega-spend plan fell through, don't start taking your business plan from big oil or timber. Make an effort to remain concious of the impact you truly make.

Note: I'm an east-coast lower 48er.

Re:No. (1)

walnut (78312) | more than 13 years ago | (#223849)

I repeat: Go away, you Lower 48er environmentalist whacko luser. You don't have to live in Alaska: you've probably never been here.
Its a shame you didn't post your actual account, I'd have been curious to see if you were really from Alaska or a Sunny Californian High School Poser...who has never been to Alaska.

But anyway, wrong about both of those. For starters, I'm not an "environmental whacko" as you'd like to believe. While I do raise environmental concerns, its because industry, including the tech industry, commonly overlooks them. Constant industrial expansion without maintenance to the environment, is extremely nearsighted, and not planning for the long haul. Maine (where I grew up), has commonly sought the ballance between the timber industry and its environmental policies. Yes the paper companies bring in business, but go up to Millonocket and breathe the air on the east side of the city... Tell me if its healthy.

While a data center doesn't cause that kind of direct polution it does cause other problems. For starters, you have increased emissions of vehicles during construciton and later as support to the structure. Ecologically whatever land within 25 miles of said construction will experience upheaval from noise (construction and vehicles frightening animals), pollution (tools and automobiles) and a degree of contamination (building materials). Expect major migratory patterns for some animals to be forced to change.

The things about animals however, is that they don't change migratory patterns well. Usually they pick the "best route." Forcing them to take an alternate means that there may be less food or more dangers (of course the danger was expanded when the construction took place). This leads to a disruption in the food chain, and you start to see every aninimal which is intertwined in that be slowly driven down in numbers. Take a basic bio-101 and you'll learn it.

Oh yeah, and I've done some pretty good backpacking and kayaking up in Alaska. Gotta say, the rain up there is pretty ...unique.

When I state the ecosystem is fragile, I mean that minimal impact destroys a large portion of growth for a given year. Its like leaving a board over a portion of your front yard for a week, soon you find dead yellow grass under it, which will take about two weeks to regrow. Yet in a fragile environment, that may be a single night, and it may take a full year to regrow. That is common in Alaska, especially when you start to get as far north as the north slope.

You've just swallowed some eco-terrorist propaganda about how precious our hunk of frozen tundra is. You're as clueless as the people who're wondering about volcanoes on the North Slope.

While I do have some friends who did go the eco-terrorist route (really, tree sitters and everything)... I believe on working within the system, and making slow changes to a more environmentally friendly system. Its not an effort to limit expansion, its an effort to manage expansion in an environmentally friendly manner - which I believe is possible.

In this case it means limiting such massive new growth in a highly under-developed area because the infrastructure growth necessary to supply the larger structure would be taxing on the environment. A better place winds up being North Dakota or eve the Upper Peninsula, assuming that they would want such development. Granted it is not as cold for as long, but cooling costs are minimized.

Do I think that a frozen hunk of tundra is precious? Yes.

Just because you dweebs down there screwed up your own backyards doesn't mean that you have some "been there, done that" morally superior position from which you can dictate to Alaska on how to balance environmentalism and economics.

...And I wouldn't propose such a thing. But the jump on the band wagon and get screwed by the tech-sector for a garounteed loss is probably not a good idea either. If you don't think that the tech sector is only looking at it because they think they can squeeze some lax regulations for a rotten business trade (growth is not just a good thing) then you are wrong. I garountee that they are trying to hoodwink what they percieve as a bunch of back-water buffoons.

And I'm sure you've heard it before: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

You want to talk to Alaska from the environmental high ground? Fix your own back yards, and stop trying to meddle in ours.

And I promise you I spend my time working in my backyard as well...

We (the human race) are parisites. We use until an area is destroyed, and then only (a few) try to fix the damages which we've caused. To not make any effort to learn from the past efforts (i.e. the lower 48) is asking to repeat our mistakes. If Alaska chooses to repeat such mistakes, don't be surprised when big business skips out on them as well at signs of trouble.

I don't expect you to agree with me, I expect you to recognize my right to a differing opinion.

Re:Natural cooling (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 13 years ago | (#223854)

My point with the solar panels is that you should use every available resource to reduce your load on the power grid. Using solar power will:

a. generate some electricity, not nearly enough, but enough solar panels around will help the situation a lot.

b. Reduce the amount solar energy heating the building or getting reflected back into the atmosphere by converting that photonic energy into electricity. We should be mass-producing solar panels and putting them on top of all building in sunny areas.

Natural cooling (4)

Madman (84403) | more than 13 years ago | (#223855)

It isn't a lack of technology but a lack of regulation that's the problem. Nobody wants to make more efficient equipment of facilities because it's going to hit them in the pocketbook. So why not be smarter about it?

Instead of building a co-lo facility where you couldn't find any skilled labor to run it, why not build one near a source of cool water instead. Then you could exchange the heat into a moving current of a large body of water. The heat you add would be negligible to the environment, and you'd save money. It could also be built near a source of skilled labor. Nuclear power plants already do this.

Some more ideas on better co-lo facilities:

a. Don't build them in hot climates.

b. If you do build them in hot climates you should have to build a large solar panel array on the top of the facility.

c. When it's cold outside, open the windows. Nothing is dumber than having the air conditioning on in the winter! If dust bothers you, suck in outside air and filter it.

d. In hot climates build them underground. Once you get a few feet down the earth's crust is actually pretty cool. Extend large heat sinks into the surrounding terrain to use the earth's natural cooling.

e. the source of the problem is the heat generated by equipment, why not design coller equipment instead? This is possible, there just is a lack of motivation to do it

Because there are many SysAdmins in Alaska.... (4)

ckm (87462) | more than 13 years ago | (#223857)

This is idiotic. The article states that there will be at least 1/2 million servers in the data center. Even if they had a farm of OS/390 machines, they would still need a large quantity of SysAdmins... Any benefit gained by this location (availability of natural gas, cold) would be immediately lost in paying experienced sysadmins hugh amounts to live near the facility.

If they need lots of gas, why not locate near a gas pipeline, and for cooling, near a river or other large body of water? Nuclear power plants use rivers/lakes/ocean for cooling, why not data centers?

Never mind the fact that there seems to be only one (!!) fiber optic cable connecting them to the internet.... Let's talk about the cost of laying another cable going through another location.

Sounds like a stupid idea thought up by some marketing idiots.
-- CKM
internet systems architect - scalability - commerce

bringing jobs (1)

graniteMonkey (87619) | more than 13 years ago | (#223858)

One thing the company poses as a good thing is that it brings about 250 jobs with it. My guess is that they won't be hiring a lot of locals for the positions, though. They'll probably be flying in the best and brightest(who for some reason want to live in Alaska) from every other state.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's interesting to note. Those positions will probably pay pretty well, too.

Re:pitfalls (1)

Mr Windows (91218) | more than 13 years ago | (#223860)

Things like thousands of miles of data cables. Never mind that you might want to hook up not just to North America, but also to Asia and Europe.
You've got a point with Europe, but not with Asia. At the closest point, Alaska and Asia are about 20 miles apart. Not a very long cable!

Re:Natural cooling (1)

fsck! (98098) | more than 13 years ago | (#223861)

Think climate control, not air conditioning. The moisture is important too. Opening windows (except in a desert and you already said we can't build there) will corrode all your systems.

That depends on your definition of 'desert', which really means 'almost no liquid water.' There are places in the Arctic and Antarctic where sea lions that died a hundred years ago have yet do decay because there is no liquid water. It's well below freezing all the time, but it's still a desert. Too bad their probably isn't any high speed access on the ice continent.


--

Re:Natural cooling (3)

Life Blood (100124) | more than 13 years ago | (#223863)

Just one problem with the whole river scheme, environmentalists are already criticizing nuclear plants for doing this. Its called thermal pollution.

Re:Great, more fiber... (1)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 13 years ago | (#223866)

Actually, FedEX has trucks up here, they're based out of Deadhorse, (a somewhat industrial village). There is fiber to Valdez, and then more fiber to Seattle.

Have to admit, it was weird seeing a FedEx truck above the Arctic Circle.

Needless to say, the UPS guys don't wear brown shorts.

Re:"Preservation of nature"??!! (1)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 13 years ago | (#223867)

Did you read the artcle?

Do you know what you're talking about?

There is so much natural gas around here, the oil companies are reinjecting it into the ground! There are trillions of cubic feet of gas around here.

The "Central Gas Facility" handles 8 Billion standard cubic feet of gas daily! That twice the volume of the next largest in the world.

Re:Permafrost (2)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 13 years ago | (#223868)

They build the buildings on stilts. Not a big deal. About 8 to 10 feet off the tundra.

Buildings that have to be on the ground, eg. Airplane Hangars, Firestations, have thermal siphons that are like radiators for the ground.

They keep the ground frozen with metal fins and ammonia.

Re:Big $$$ (3)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 13 years ago | (#223871)

I'm sitting on the North Slope now, working for one of the oil companies mentioned in the article.

The problem is going to be permitting. You can't build anything on tundra without asking all kinds of people. It's still years away.

They could however lease one of the decommissioned facilities, if they are still around. They are *enormous* to put it lightly. Hell, there are oil storage tanks here that are 50,000 bbls of oil in volume.

Re:What about the sysadmin? (4)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 13 years ago | (#223872)

To sound like a broken record, I work on the NorthSlope. I'm here now.

We work shifts either 1 week or 2 week shifts. I'm a two weeks on, two weeks off schedule. I actually live in Philadelphia and fly up here every two weeks.

and yes, the money is good enough for me to cover travel costs, and live pretty well.

Re:No. (1)

bopo (105833) | more than 13 years ago | (#223873)

Screw the people who actually live there.

You mean all twelve of them?

Re:What about the sysadmin? (1)

stoner (107456) | more than 13 years ago | (#223874)

Bastard! I hate tourists! ;-)

Easy to cool (4)

andy@petdance.com (114827) | more than 13 years ago | (#223876)

Sure, it'd be easy to cool the place, but that's not the issue. They're going to have to heat it.

Solid-state components prob'ly don't mind subzero temps, but the drives sure will. To pick one example, this Maxtor SCSI drive [maxtor.com] is only rated to run above 5C. Heck, NON-operating temperature is only -40C.
--

Comfort only matters if you go outdoors (2)

YIAAL (129110) | more than 13 years ago | (#223878)

As long as you stay happily with your computer, you're warm and safe. This should be a natural geek advantage where real estate is concerned: who needs to pay a premium for views or climate?

Skeptical (2)

NumberSyx (130129) | more than 13 years ago | (#223879)

I am skeptical about the purpose of doing this. Granted it is isolated, but if you can get people and equipment there, it is not isolated enough to discourage anyone who really wanted to get there. Isolation has its disadvantages as well, the police/fire/rescue people would have as much difficulty getting there as anyone and not to mention replacement parts. Since there is only one pipeline, it is easy to cut. Alaska is still inside the United States and is therefore still subject to U.S. law and Alaska State law. I really see no advantage to building there as opposed to some other less isolated area such as Montana where there might be a road and a small town nearby. Heck I hear Area 51 is vacant now.


Jesus died for sombodies sins, but not mine.

Re:Natural cooling (1)

ajna (151852) | more than 13 years ago | (#223882)

Instead of regulating common sense, why not just let the free market do its thing? If power prices were not artificially capped, perhaps the skyrocketing costs for electricity would make people and businesses realize on their own that building co-lo facilities (or any other power-hungry operation that demands a cold atmosphere) in California is a poor idea.

Preservation of nature vs. Human comfort? (4)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 13 years ago | (#223884)

Humans are natural. Just because we make more noticeable changes to our environment than other animals doesn't mean we aren't nature. If a beaver dams a river it is nature, but if people do it, it is polution? There is no one perfect state nature can be in. We are not ruing a 'balance'. Nature is always changing, animals are always evolving and becoming extinct. There is no 'nature' to 'preserve' and we humans are natural, too.

By strange coincidence (1)

spankfish (167192) | more than 13 years ago | (#223888)

Such a beast would be conveniently close to ye olde Siberian missile silos. Hrm.

--

Single points of failure? (1)

The Mutant (167716) | more than 13 years ago | (#223890)

Is there any redundancy to their net connections?

The article mentions "the existing fiber-optic line from the North Slope". Well, I'm a native New York living in London for the past four years, and frequently have experienced problems getting to North American internet sites.

And this wasn't related solely to my provider (Demon), as I also use Virgin and Freenet. When Demon can't reach Noth American, frequently they can't either.

It was out for an entire weekend about nine months ago.

Just seems problematic to me if they've only got a single pipe - no matter how thick - to the Lower 48.

Re:Natural cooling (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 13 years ago | (#223891)

Can I have some of what you are smoking???

You are going to SAVE money by burying giant heatsinks below an underground bunker????

North slope would be ideal... (2)

Timodious (178572) | more than 13 years ago | (#223892)

I am a sysadmin for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (the company that operates the Alaska pipeline), and have traveled to the north slope occasionally in that capacity. I would agree that the north slope would be an excellent place for a NOC/ASP/ISP/whatever.

I would consider working for the company if I could be assured that I would get the standard 2 week on/2 week off slope schedule. The commute is a pain, though.

#use Standard::Disclaimer;

Re:No real impact on nature (1)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 13 years ago | (#223893)

There really wont be any impact on the animal life in the area if this site goes up. I have a relative that worked on the North Slope for many years in the employ of the oil corp. While he was there he filmed the wild life and the effect that the oil facilitied had on them as well as human presence.

Either you are very young(/naive), or this is a troll. I'll assume the former.

Just because there are a few hours of video showing caribou ignoring some unmoving pipes doesn't mean that there is no impact: some changes take longer to show up, and some changes depend on particular, perhaps unlikely but nevertheless not impossible circumstances (eg errors). Did your relative also film the wildlife happily enjoying an oil spill? What about the air pollution? Physical barriers? Note that 4 hooved limbs are not conducive to scaling fences or climbing over pipelines, nor do all creatures know enough to avoid vehicles/roads. They do not know to not eat that rusty nail, or that taking refuge near that pleasantly warm high-voltage transformer may not be a good idea, or that that coolant leak is not a tasty treat. Animals also do not complain that their children are getting more asthmatic, or that pollution has reduced their chances of conceiving, etc etc etc.

Of course there's an impact.

gimmick... (2)

ledbetter (179623) | more than 13 years ago | (#223894)

This all just seems like a gimmick to me. I don't think this place really has that much advantage over a data center in a suburban industrial area. There's data and power there too. However, personnel costs are going to be much higher up there. Remote administration can help, but it can't setup new servers, or run cable. How many experienced administrators want to live up there in the freezing cold/middle of nowhere. Also, construction costs would be increased too! Plus, getting computers shipped there will be more expensive.

It just doesn't add up to me.. I mean lately we've seen "lets build a data center on an island", and now "lets build a data center up in glacial cold of Alaska", what's next; "let's build a data center in the middle of the jungle (anyone who can get through all the vines would be good at cabling), or maybe "let's build a data center at the bottom of the ocean (everthing water cooled!, plus there's fat data lines, and power running down there too!"

pitfalls (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#223895)

I can imagine all kinds of pitfalls to this, just based on the location. But these could just be engineering problems.

Things like thousands of miles of data cables. Never mind that you might want to hook up not just to North America, but also to Asia and Europe. Enviromental factors in terms of the cold effect on equipment. Effects from Solar Storms (northern lights, etc)

I am not completely sold on this. Maybe something closer to the Bering Straights.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

Re:Big $$$ -- Please (5)

acorliss (181527) | more than 13 years ago | (#223896)

Having lived up here in Alaska since '96, *and* having worked for one of the major telecoms up here that own some of the fiber going down to the lower 48, all I can say is WTF? This is the most near-sighted view of the project to date. These nitwits are focusing on temperature, power, and security, forgetting that all the while that if people can't get to your service, they're not going to use it. No, I'm not talking about physically, but do any of you people realise what Alaska's bandwidth situation is? Right now, we have three companies that own fiber that will sell you bandwidth (one, Alaska Fiber Star, can't seem to give you a quote on provisioning to save their life, though--*&)(&*^(*&% sales people!). The remaining companies, ACS & GCI both have sold a good chunk of what they have, but neither of them are sitting on so much bandwidth that they can afford to provide the needs of a datacenter on that scale with any kind of real redundancy. In short, I think this is ill-concieved, and not very well thought out. People will very likely want to move a tremendous amount of data in an out of this facility on a regular basis, and I haven't heard anyone involved in this project consider this critical access issue.

Re:Big $$$ -- Please (5)

acorliss (181527) | more than 13 years ago | (#223897)

Hogwash. The reality is that even with technologies like DWDM, you still have to have fiber that has sufficient reflective qualities along the walls of the fiber across a broader range of frequency. Yes, most fiber these days are adequate to one extent or another for DWDM, but you can't safely make that assumption when you're budgeting a project of this scale, can you? I thought not.

Futhermore, a cable like GCI's, which lays in the ocean, requires repeaters at given intervals. Each repeater is designed to operate over a specific range of frequencies, so one again, you have no guarantees that they're already prepared to do heavy DWDM. As I recall, when they laid their cable, DWDM was still in the early stages in the industry, and didn't have the acceptance levels they do today.

In short, don't think you can solve all of your problems by whipping some magic fiber-fairy out of your ass. Alaska is *not* the most well connected state on the Internet, and that *has* to be a consideration for any Alaskan-based data center.

As an additional side note, did you know that Alaska wastes an incredible amount of bandwidth to the lower 48 just to view Alaskan web sites? The lack of a peering agreement between the two biggest players, ACS & GCI, forces any subscriber on one to send all of their traffic through Seattle, WA, just to visit a site on the other. It's things like that which should illuminate the somewhat ludicrous bandwidth predicaments we find ourselves in up here.

Raid-Earth (1)

blunte (183182) | more than 13 years ago | (#223898)

Effectively one datapipe to the net? That doesn't scale very well, and it sure isn't very fault-tolerant.

They'd be much better off if they picked several sites across the world and ran a Raid-Earth system :) Sure costs go way up, but so does fault tolerance and scalability.

Strategically Good? (1)

mizhi (186984) | more than 13 years ago | (#223899)

Hmm, so we have a major source of power and massive amounts of data all in one location? Terrific target for terrorists. TTFT? =)

Re:Natural cooling (1)

daBum (191224) | more than 13 years ago | (#223900)

b. If you do build them in hot climates you should have to build a large solar panel array on the top of the facility. That's great as a throw away comment. That solar array isn't going to give you nearly the power you need, nor produce it efficiently. Remember, it's the cost per megawatt that counts and solar isn't cost competative yet even if you could run a data center on only solar.

I don't believe he meant to only run the datacenter on solar. I read it as a way to offset the load on the grid by pulling some of the power you use in the datacenter / AC from the solar panels / batteries. No, it wouldn't be 100% of your power, but during the summer, when all the utility companies are struggling to provide enough electricity to run all the AC's in the warmer areas, it would help. (hint: California isn't the only place that has had brownouts... Lots of areas have them, especially during dry summers)

But what do I know? IANAEE. (Electrical Engineer... only got a minor in it)

Re:Natural cooling (2)

autocracy (192714) | more than 13 years ago | (#223901)

  • Solar power comes in... DC! Why is this important? Because it's what your computer uses natively and what plugs direct to telco equipment (and Cisco stuff too...) And it doesn't cost you much above the initial installation cost either.
  • Cold air with a high relative humidity (the number that matters) gets a lower relative humidity when it passes through the machine, or heats up at all. That's the reason we have dew points...
  • True, you can't cool just through heat sinks in the earth, but it helps
  • Athlons new Palamino chips and Transmeta's if they ever reach market...


So you're a karma whore, eh? For the right price, I'll be a karma pimp...

Re:"Two good targets..."? (2)

ScuzzMonkey (208981) | more than 13 years ago | (#223903)

Good sysadmin = paranoid

Re:Easy to cool (2)

Beowu1f (209753) | more than 13 years ago | (#223906)

Uh, lets think about this two seconds? "...house at least half a million computer servers." I think these servers would provide sufficient heat. Keep in mind, the article is not thinking the building will just have open windows to the outside...it's not going to be a refrigerator with computers in it. There are HVAC (Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning) systems that use air from outside, filter it, and run it through the furnace (if need be...but I think they would just recycle a certain amount of air from inside, and bring in the rest of the air from outside to keep a constant temp.)

Location (1)

Placido (209939) | more than 13 years ago | (#223907)

Being from the UK I wasn't too sure where the North Slope was... well I knew it was in the North (duh!) but I didn't know how big it was or what... so for other non-US citizens...

I solemnly give you...

The North Coast [digital-neighbors.com]

It's pretty damn big! Where exactly in that wilderness are they thinking of putting this server farm?


Pinky: "What are we going to do tomorrow night Brain?"

Re:"Preservation of nature"??!! (1)

agentZ (210674) | more than 13 years ago | (#223908)

Data center no, but power plant next door, yes. You're going to need to drill for natural gas, collect it, transport it to the power plant, and then burn it. Unless you'd like to employ about 4 jillion caribou to do this, you're going to have an environmental impact.

Re:pitfalls (2)

agentZ (210674) | more than 13 years ago | (#223909)

Using satellites that far north would be difficult. You'd have trouble seeing geostationary satellites; they'll be awfully low on the horizon, if they're even visible at all. Dealing with multiple satellites just adds more and more complication to the system. Running multiple fiber lines would probably just be simpler.

Two quick thoughts.... (1)

pjdepasq (214609) | more than 13 years ago | (#223911)

Quick, someone file an RFC for an IP over oil so we can take advantage of a new protocol...

Second, let's patent the IP over oil so someone else doesn't.

If girlfriendless geeks complain about the valley (1)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#223913)

wait unil they get to Alaska, which has just about the highest male to female ratio in the states, outside of Paris Island.

Though, for a female SA who wants to be the center of attraction at a sausage fest, it might not be a bad gig.

Tell the SA's they are in training for MARS (4)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#223914)

You have to stay in this underground bunker, stuffed full of servers and UPS, and you have to live on hot pockets and instant coffee. You can't go outside, since there's only frozen tundra there.

But, you get full internet connectivity, and you can be put on the waiting list for a trip to Mars.

why not Antarctica? (1)

rampant_gerbil (221545) | more than 13 years ago | (#223915)

>(maybe a polar bear would break in),

oh, wait, they've got penguins down there... :-P

one small suggestion (2)

kentsin (225902) | more than 13 years ago | (#223917)

I would like to suggest to build a pair of data centers : on in north poal and the other in south. The issue is to utilize the solar power that you can switch from one to the other without providing extra energy. thank god. It is heavenly running, God bless them.

Re:Big $$$ -- Please (5)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#223918)

In short, don't think you can solve all of your problems by whipping some magic fiber-fairy out of your ass.

I think I am going to live my life by that axiom.

--

Great, more fiber... (1)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 13 years ago | (#223920)

Power, cooler temps, but probably no bandwidth. I would hate to be the fedex guy dropping off tapes....

I drove up there (From MN) a while back on a cross country motorcycle trip, and I could think of few things less fun then trenching fiber optic cable through that wilderness - environmental issues aside.

I have one word for this.... (1)

jmatlock (232136) | more than 13 years ago | (#223921)

Earthquakes.

Gee... what happens when Anchorage gets wiped out by another 9.6 earthquake? I'd bet that OC-12/etc. is running through there.... The entire state of alaska just south of the North Slope is highly seismic .. ( http://geohazards.cr.usgs.gov/eq/html/aks.shtml ) .. seems to me this would be a Very Bad Thing.

And as for a post above.. "How about the Bering Straits"... how about a data center that gets hit by a tsunami and blown into the ocean in about 3 seconds flat?

No thanks, but I'll keep my servers here in Georgia.. no earthquakes, no power outages (yay nuclear power!).. and hell, gasoline is still only $1.30 gallon here. :)

Yes (1)

delorean (245987) | more than 13 years ago | (#223922)

Good lord, I'll say you're a east-coast lower 48er. I'll also say you are an ass, to quote from Shakespeare.

The whole "preserve the wildlife refuge" is such a piece of !@#@#!!! Do you even realize HOW big Alaska is? It's not a little bitty speck off of California, dude. It is gargantuan! You could cut it in half and make Texas the third largest state instead of second. :) I lived in AK for 25 years, and we Alaskans are quite proud of that statement. Of course, now I live in Texas... but it's the truth and I can't deny it.

Did you know that the amount of State and Federal parklands and refuges already exceeds the a good deal of your east coast? I don't remember the exact figures but it is million of millions of acres of land-- already set aside. You can't even ride a bicycle through Denali National Park without a super-special impossible to obtain permit. A BICYCLE?! GIMME A BREAK! That is ridiculous.

And ANWR.... don't be stupid. The tundra has hardly been effected by the drilling and pumping of oil and the building of the pipeline. That stuff grows like mad and reclaims it's territory so fast. The wildlife don't care about the pipeline. If anything they have been known to use the shadow to cool themselves in the summer.

Geez louise, I like hiking and having natural areas just like the next person. But you really need to charter a flight and try to see all of the natural area of Alaska before start spouting off something you don't understand.

You know why I left Alaska? Jobs. There just weren't enough Sys Admin jobs to go around-- I had to work 50% on NT boxes for two years because I didn't know the right people to do sole unix work. Ugh! So here I am in warm Texas, and I'll be dreaming of those cool Alaska summers all to soon.

I don't think the idea is feasible, but if they want to spend money in Alaska I'll let 'em; those that can stay there sure you could some more. It is not an easy place to live, even in the "metropolis" of Anchorage...

So go blow off, you East-coaster. Go pick hypodermic needles off your shore and hike your little bitty Apalachians and leave regional politics to those who know their region.

redundancy (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 13 years ago | (#223923)

Have three or four data centers; land is cheap.

Permafrost (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 13 years ago | (#223924)

A ground loop would work fine for cooling things during the summer -- though you'd want to be careful to have that loop nice and far from the data center. Wouldn't be a good thing to have it sink in the mud, now, would it?

why now? (2)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 13 years ago | (#223925)

The numerous disadvantages seem to greatly outweigh the few advantages. It's isolated? So what? How big of a problem are break-in's at the high security server farms in southern california? If its that big of a deal, isolation seems like it would only complicate matters! (serious raid, security people outnumbered, call for backup? riight!) And if their sole internet connection goes down, do they fall back to a satelite or something? It just doesn't seem practical. Is this serious?
---

Re:Tell the SA's they are in training for MARS (2)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 13 years ago | (#223926)

Mmmm...hot pockets

Mmmmm. Slow packets.
---

Re:Big $$$ -- Please (2)

markmoss (301064) | more than 13 years ago | (#223929)

The technology exists to put all the world's traffic through a single fiber -- so wherever fiber exists, more bandwidht is just a matter of upgradeing the electronics at the ends, and that can be done just as soon as someone is wiling to pay for it.

However, I've never seen any large server project so exposed to a single point of failure -- when frost heaves or sabotage break that fiber, it might take a week to get it back online.

Re:What about the sysadmin? (2)

markmoss (301064) | more than 13 years ago | (#223930)

First, most sysadmin work doesn't require physical presence -- you could do it from a terminal in NYC (although personally I'd rather be on the North Slope), or even from a _desirable_ location as long as it's got good broadbsnd access. You do need some techs to plug stuff in, trace down cable faults, and swap out dead servers, but those "250 jobs" mentioned in the article are probably mostly the construction crew. Second, for the necessary on-site staff, you do the same thing they do to get construction workers on the pipeline -- pay them so much that they'll be able to retire in ten years... High pay and nowhere to spend it sure builds the bank account.

Re:Permafrost (2)

markmoss (301064) | more than 13 years ago | (#223931)

I'd worry about the whole million-square foot building sinking in the permafrost... I suppose there must be construction techniques that overcome this, but they are expensive.

talk about a pipe dream... (2)

therm0nuclear (301284) | more than 13 years ago | (#223933)

This is vapor if I've ever heard it. I don't know where these guys are going to come up with all this "existing bandwidth" that they intend to utilize. I live in AK, and there is not nearly the connectivity to support a project like this. Even assuming that the bandwidth issue is magically taken care of, there are the logistic nightmares involved in building any kind of structure on permafrost, supplying and manning said facility, impact to local communities, impact to wildlife, etc. The list continues... No way is this happening. But for the record (and for all you lower 48'ers reading this), there ARE qualified SysAdmins already living up here, and you'd probably have to pay most of us a helluva lot more to move Outside than to take a 2 on/2 off job on the Slope! (Especially if we could get our hands on all that bandwidth...)

Easy to Warm (2)

cryptochrome (303529) | more than 13 years ago | (#223934)

If you insulate it properly you could probably just use the heat from the servers and powerplant to warm it to room temperature. Of course you'll need a backup heater in case everything gets shut down, who knows how being way below freezing would affect things.

Alternatively, you could set the place up to cool the solid state components separately from the drives.

cryptochrome

Re:What about the sysadmin? (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 13 years ago | (#223935)

  • High pay and nowhere to spend it sure builds the bank account.

There's a rumour going roung that there's a couple of places selling stuff over the internet now. Also in return for your credit card number, apparently some nice foreign ladies will give you phone sex, but over the internet! Imagine that! ;)

survive the polar bears (1)

fatgraham (307614) | more than 13 years ago | (#223936)

just use regualr beige boxes instead of big black server racks :]

Stupid Idea (2)

Tipsy McStagger (312800) | more than 13 years ago | (#223938)

everyone knows you don't get penguins near the north pole.

Re:Tell the SA's they are in training for MARS (1)

caino59 (313096) | more than 13 years ago | (#223939)

You have to stay in this underground bunker, stuffed full of servers and UPS, and you have to live on hot pockets and instant coffee. You can't go outside, since there's only frozen tundra there.

But, you get full internet connectivity, and you can be put on the waiting list for a trip to Mars.

Isn't the dream most uf us have been waiting for ;o)

Mmmm...hot pockets

Caino

Don't touch my .sig there!

Easy to heat (numbers) (3)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 13 years ago | (#223941)

You're absolutely correct. To be a little more specific, the article talks about a 400 MW powerplant to run this data center, which has up to 500,000 servers (in 250,000 square feet; those are going to be tall racks). 400 MW is about 1.36 billion BTU/hour. If you assume that the inside temperature is 30 C, the outside temperature is -50 C, and the ceiling is insulated to R-10, the ceiling will leak 8 BTU/f^2/hour or 2 million BTU/hour total (you can probably ignore the walls). This is about 0.2% of the heat generated by server farm (500,000 servers at 800 watts apiece, total 400 megawatts).

Cooling is going to be the problem, even on the North Slope. It would be smart to run a pipe out into the Arctic ocean and bring in cold seawater for cooling purposes; a secondary glycol loop running to chiller plates in the servers would make for a relatively cheap and reliable cooling system for the summers. For winter, just circulate the glycol through pipes on the roof or dry cooling towers.
--
Having 50 karma is an itchy feeling; I know I'll get

Has anyone considered (2)

DreamSynthesis (415854) | more than 13 years ago | (#223943)



... subterranean data centers? No, this is not a "joke" post...

It may be that this is already quite widespread, but that's not the case from my experience in the field (== substantial). Let's stop to think about this for a second.

"Going down, instead of out" preserves land space and offers several additional benefits:

  • Relatively constant temperature.
  • Heightened protection from the elements (earthqakes included to a certain degree, since your buidling won't "fall over."
  • Maybe somewhat increased physical security (depends).


Of course, this doesn't help the environment out much on the pollution scene, unless of course you happen to utilize local geothermal energy. This frequently has the side effect of putting you at high risk for tremors, however...

Any thoughts?

I can see it now... (5)

chemical55 (446280) | more than 13 years ago | (#223946)

A New York Jew who gets Fed loans to complete his college education in computer science at NYIT is forced to work in Alaska...

Building North Slope City (1)

christoofar (451967) | more than 13 years ago | (#223947)

Lots of servers, huh? That's going to need lots of geeks for maintainance. Think about the human factor: Most datacenters big and small still have: massive tape libraries, whether it be DAT, 3278, or whatever, and many more still have optical disk burning facilities. You will have to bring in a lot of semiskilled labor to change out bad hardware, mount media, and perform routine troubleshooting. Unlike in the oil & gas, fishing and crab industries, these "transplanted Alaskans" probably won't be working in stints like most other wage earners. They will have to make the North Slope their home for most of the year unless someone wants to setup a double or triple payroll and rotate the workforce in and out of the facility. And unlike Austin/Houston/Dallas/San Jose/Seattle, you won't see many of these items readily available that lots of techies subsist on: o Burgers/Pizza/Sushi/Beer o Starbucks o Strip clubs (Delphi programmers) o Cellular access (wonder how good Globalstar is up there?) o Computer hardware stores o Any kind of store in particular and most important of all (since I live in San Antonio): Mexican food In a nutshell, anyone willing to build a facility like this probably will not be able to secure a loan or get any VC because of all the implicit costs bundled in with it. Let's stick to renovating old inner-city downtown buildings to shove in more servers. Surprisingly there are lots of places you might not expect where you can erect a cheap farm close to major fiber lines.. and most of them are in the Southwest US. How about we put some folks in the square states to work?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...