g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon Valley-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry and political bile.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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Cartago Delenda Est




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Thursday, May 17, 2007
11:01 - It was never our destiny to stop Judgment Day; it was merely to survive it

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In the middle of a cornfield in the middle of Iowa, there is a data center.

Not just any data center. It's InfoBunker, probably the securest data center you're ever likely to find. It's built in a decommissioned Air Force bunker that once housed hardened military telecom equipment, as the giant radio tower that stands above the parking lot—and can be seen for miles around—attests. But that's pretty much all there is that can be seen by passersby, aside from a small entryway hut and some storage sheds and old wire spools on a patched, 60s-era parking lot. The facility extends five stories below ground, with multiple data floors, employee areas, and living quarters (the 24/7 staff doesn't see the sun very much).

Because I'd mentioned InfoBunker in my book in the latest edition, on the recommendation of my tech editor, the president of InfoBunker invited me to stop by the place as I blew through Iowa on my trek to bring home my Lotus. I turned off 80 at Des Moines and made the slight hour-or-so detour to the site on the second day.

It's not my place to go into too much detail about what's housed in the bunker, as just to get inside under escort you have to agree to a strict no-photos policy (perfectly understandable); but suffice it to say that the simplex lock on the main hut door is only the very beginning. Many hardened, keycoded, and biometric-protected doors stand between the outside world and the NOC floors, including the self-sufficient power systems (six days' worth of diesel fuel; 17,000 gallons of water, for drinking and fire suppression; military-grade NBC air filtration). It's built to withstand a 20-megaton nuclear blast at 2.5 miles, according to the website, and I can believe it. Your data will be intact even if the rest of the Internet has been vaporized.

The photos on the website are mostly mock-ups, but I can vouch that they're not far off from reality, including the ultra-swank Critical Operations Room. The conference room is even better than the mock-up, in my opinion, with custom dark wood paneling and Japanese woodblock paintings and sculptures on the walls and tables. The staff is small, but it's dedicated to perfection in presentation, and even the bathroom tile is a high-grade rough-cut stone that brings to mind a national park visitor center. Though only employees and prospective clients are ever likely to see the inside of this place, it's aimed at the kind of clients who will appreciate the kind of attention to detail that my gracious subterranean hosts obsessively display.

From what I heard, this facility is only one of a few in the country that have been sold into private hands after being decommissioned, and the only one that has been turned into a data center. The operation is humming along with the first clients who have seen the importance of this kind of hosting, but the interested client list is a mile long, and these guys seem to have a corner on this rarefied and critical market—which might turn out to be less and less rarefied as more and more data-centric organizations realize what's at stake here. The best part is that the prices are really very reasonable...

A radio tower over a military bunker in an Iowa cornfield is a pretty incongruous sight, and adding to the mix a black Lotus Esprit probably pegged the freak-o-meter for the area for a day or so. But it's all for real, and I'm happy to tell anyone who's in the market for ultra-secure data storage that these guys are the ones to go to.

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© Brian Tiemann