Friday, March 14, 2014

Cavern Technologies builds area’s largest data center underground

Pete Clune, CEO of Cavern Technologies, is pictured in one of the data suites in its underground data center at Meritex Lenexa Executive Park.

Cavern Technologies, located in the underground portion of Meritex Lenexa Executive Park, has begun a $10 million, 100,000-square-foot expansion that will make it the largest data center in the Kansas City region.
The company, which has developed 60,000 square feet of underground space since its founding in 2007, will leapfrog ahead of 1102 Grand LLC in Kansas City, now the region’s largest data center with 110,000 square feet.
Pete Clune, founder and CEO of Cavern Technologies, said several factors were driving the company’s growth.
One is the fact that the data-storage needs of Corporate America are roughly doubling every year and a half, Clune said. Cavern Technologies’ more than 90 existing tenants are expanding their data-storage capacity by 30 percent annually, he said.
Another growth driver is the cost and reliability of electric power provided by Kansas City Power & Light, Clune said. KCP&L charges 8 cents per kilowatt hour, about half of what utilities on the coasts charge.
Cavern Technologies charges its tenants based on power consumed rather than square footage occupied. But as part of its unique data center colocation model, Clune said, it developed the concept of data suites, which allow clients to house servers in dedicated spaces rather than on racks in a huge shared space.
Tenants also like the advantages of having their data center space underground, Clune said. Being “a data center without walls,” he said, Cavern Technologies gives tenants the flexibility of moving and expanding their space quicky. It also protects data from natural disasters and offers a 65-degree ambient temperature that helps tenants minimize cooling costs. A remote energy monitoring system and suite-design recommendations from Cavern Technologies’ staff also keep power costs down, said Scott Herron, the company’s vice president of data center operations.
In addition to providing access to multiple KCP&L substations, Cavern offers high-capacity bandwidth from multiple carriers. The data infrastructure is so robust, Clune related, that a London-based company with space in the center reported that it could send data from London to Lenexa to Scotland faster than it can send it directly to Scotland.
“With Cavern’s focus on the infrastructure piece, including the space, power, cooling, security and bandwidth, our client’s IT department can focus on their unique mission-critical business operations,” Clune said.
The model has attracted some of the nation’s leading health care, financial services, legal and tech companies, said Clune, whose son John is president of the company.
They have guided the underground business to full occupancy in its present 60,000-square-foot-space. In addition, the company has secured commitments for 25 percent of the 100,000 square feet now being built out.
The company will finish the year with nearly $6 million in revenue, Pete Clune said, and will be posting $15 million to $20 million by the time the additional 100,000 square feet is fully occupied.
JE Dunn Construction is the contractor for the expansion. Bell/Knott & Associates is providing the data center design, and Gibbens Drake Scott Inc. is the engineering firm.
Bill Seymour, a senior vice president with Meritex Enterprises, which owns the underground park, said he began working with Pete Clune 10 years ago, when he operated a managed services firm at Meritex.
“I never imagined the type of scale Cavern has now achieved,” Seymour said. “Pete and John have proven the concept, done what they said they would do and give the customers what they want.”

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Underground Secure Data Center Operations

Technology based companies are building new data centers in old mines, caves, and bunkers to host computer equipment below the Earth's surface.

Underground Secure Data Center Operations have a upward trend.

Operations launched in inactive gypsum mines, caves, old abandoned coal mines, abandoned solid limestone mines, positioned deep below the bedrock mines, abandoned hydrogen bomb nuclear bunkers, bunkers deep underground and secure from disasters, both natural and man-made.

The facility have advantages over traditional data centers, such as increased security, lower cost, scalability and ideal environmental conditions. There economic model works, despite the proliferation of data center providers, thanks largely to the natural qualities inherent in the Underground Data Centers.

With 10,000, to to over a 1,000,000 square feet available, there is lots of space to be subdivided to accommodate the growth needs of clients. In addition, the Underground Data Centers has an unlimited supply of naturally cool, 50-degree air, providing the ideal temperature and humidity for computer equipment with minimal HVAC cost.

They are the most secure data centers in the world and unparalleled in terms of square footage, scalability and environmental control.

Yet, while the physical and cost benefits of being underground make them attractive, they have to also invested heavily in high-speed connectivity and redundant power and fiber systems to ensure there operations are not just secure, but also state-of-the-art.

There initially focused on providing disaster recovery solutions, and backup co-location services.

Clients lease space for their own servers, while other provides secure facilities, power and bandwidth. They offers redundant power sources and multiple high-speed Internet connections through OC connected to SONET ring linked to outside connectivity providers through redundant fiber cables.

Underground Data Centers company augments there core services to include disaster recovery solutions, call centers, NOC, wireless connectivity and more.

Strategic partnering with international, and national information technology company, enable them to offer technology solutions ranging from system design and implementation to the sale of software and equipment.

The natural qualities of the Underground Data Centers allow them to offer the best of both worlds premier services and security at highly competitive rates.

Underground Data Centers were established starting in 1990's but really came into there own after September 11 attacks in 2001 when there founders realized the former mines, and bunker offered optimal conditions for a data center. The mines, and bunkers offered superior environmental conditions for electronic equipment, almost invulnerable security and they located near power grids.

Adam Couture, a Mass.-based analyst for Gartner Inc. said Underground Data Centers could find a niche serving businesses that want to reduce vulnerability to any future attacks. Some Underground Data Centers fact sheet said that the Underground Data Center would protect the data center from a cruise missile explosion or plane crash.

Every company after September 11 attacks in 2001 are all going back and re-evaluating their business-continuity plans, This doesn't say everybody's changing them, but everybody's going back and revisiting them in the wake of what happened and the Underground Data Center may be just that.

Comparison chart: Underground data centers

Five facilities compared
Name InfoBunker, LLC The Bunker Montgomery Westland Cavern Technologies Iron Mountain The Underground
Location Des Moines, Iowa* Dover, UK Montgomery, Tex. Lenexa, Kan. Butler County, Penn.*
In business since 2006 1999 2007 2007 Opened by National Storage in 1954. Acquired by Iron Mountain 1998.
Security /access control Biometric; keypad; pan, tilt and zoom cameras; door event and camera logging CCTV, dogs, guards, fence Gated, with access control card, biometrics and a 24x7 security guard Security guard, biometric scan, smart card access and motion detection alarms 24-hour armed guards, visitor escorts, magnetometer, x-ray scanner, closed-circuit television, badge access and other physical and electronic measures for securing the mine's perimeter and vaults
Distance underground (feet) 50 100 60 125 220
Ceiling height in data center space (feet) 16 12 to 50 10 16 to 18 15 (10 feet from raised floor to dropped ceiling)
Original use Military communications bunker Royal Air Force military bunker Private bunker designed to survive a nuclear attack. Complex built in 1982 by Louis Kung (Nephew of Madam Chang Kai Shek) as a residence and headquarters for his oil company, including a secret, 40,000 square foot nuclear fallout shelter. The office building uses bulletproof glass on the first floor and reception area and 3-inch concrete walls with fold-down steel gun ports to protect the bunker 60 feet below. Limestone mine originally developed by an asphalt company that used the materials in road pavement Limestone mine
Total data center space (square feet) 34,000 50,000 28,000 plus 90,000 of office space in a hardened, above-ground building. 40,000 60,000
Total space in facility 65,000 60,000 28,000 3 million 145 acres developed; 1,000 acres total
Data center clients include Insurance company, telephone company, teaching hospital, financial services, e-commerce, security
monitoring/surveillance, veterinary, county government
Banking, mission critical Web applications, online trading NASA/T-Systems, Aker Solutions, Continental Airlines, Houston Chronicle, Express Jet Healthcare, insurance, universities, technology, manufacturing, professional services Marriott International Inc., Iron Mountain, three U.S. government agencies
Number of hosted primary or backup data centers 2 50+ 13 26 5
Services offered Leased data center space, disaster recovery space, wholesale bandwidth Fully managed platforms, partly managed platforms, co-location Disaster recovery/business continuity, co-location and managed services Data center space leasing, design, construction and management Data center leasing, design, construction and maintenance services
Distance from nearest large city Des Moines, about 45 miles* Canterbury, 10 miles; London, 60 miles Houston, 40 miles Kansas City, 15 miles Pittsburgh, 55 miles
Location of cooling system, includng cooling towers Underground Underground Above and below ground. All cooling towers above ground in secure facility. Air cooled systems located underground. Cooling towers located outside
Chillers located above ground to take advantage of "free cooling." Pumps located underground.
Location of generators and fuel tanks Underground Above ground and below ground Two below ground, four above ground. All fuel tanks buried topside. Underground Underground
*Declined to cite exact location/disatance for security reasons.