The Data Center Theme Park
For those of you who are regular bloggers you know that there are some days where the ideas just aren’t flowing and then there are days where life just seems to tee one up for you. Today is one of those days. There I was, just perusing the usual industry sites, when what appears before my eyes, but a picture of a data center featuring a curvy slide and a rock climbing wall. As I peered closer I thought to myself, “Could that be…?” And sure enough they had elliptical machines and Stairmasters in there. Quickly reading the article I found that the site in question also includes a putting green, foosball tables, and a “gaming area”. Now some of you more cynical readers are probably saying to yourselves, “Okay, here comes the part where he starts making fun of them”. For those out there who would view a data center with a putting green as the height of frivolity I must ask, “What the heck is wrong with you people?” Let me paraphrase Mark Antony when I say, “That I come not to bury this facility, but to praise it”. In fact, I don’t think this mixture of theme park and data center has been explored nearly enough…
When you really think about it, data centers inherently possess the qualities required for mirth and merriment. Take the raised floor for example. With all those perforated tiles every facility is capable of vying for the title of “World’s Largest Air Hockey Table”. Of course you’re going to have the parochial data center operator or two who have some issues with the idea of a large orange plastic disk colliding with a server or storage device, but aren’t these really just the same folks who told you to stay off their lawn when you were a kid?
Remember electric football? That All-American fun game where you spent 10 minutes setting up your men only to give that little felt football to the guy with the bent “feelers” who would burst through the line and then proceed to run in a circle—and did anyone ever complete a pass using that weird quarterback/kicker guy? I loved mine, and it worked great until my sister stepped on it and every play became a right sweep. Since nothing vibrates like a generator housing, you can have those hours of fun back. Naturally, the men would have to be a lot bigger, but I’m sure they’ve also made tremendous strides in “feeler” technology in the last 30 years so your guy could probably go 10 or 15 yards before veering out of bounds. Between that and a true “sister proof” design, I don’t think life can get much better.
With more and more people biking to work, and the trend toward larger data centers, isn’t bicycle racing a natural data center activity? A few laps around some 500,000 square foot facility will definitely separate the serious biker from the mere weekend enthusiast. The narrowness of the average data center corridor also adds the potential for something that you’re not going to find with those prissy Tour De France guys, and that’s full body contact. Admit it, the prospect of driving Cliff hard into a corner get’s your competitive juices flowing just thinking about it. Data centers, bikes and the potential for mayhem, is it just me or is there something uniquely American about that?
Now we’ve all seen that a number of data centers today capture their hot air exhaust and use it to heat the facility, and that is a practical application, but isn’t there a better use for this heated by-product? I think many of you know where I’m going with this. Any old data center today includes shower facilities—I think you get five LEED points for that—but how many have a hot tub? Can you think of a better way to cap off a hard day of air hockey, electric football and high impact bike racing than settling in with a nice glass of chardonnay for a relaxing soak? I can almost feel those jets working on my knotted muscles now. For those of you who just aren’t the hot tub type, might I suggest a sauna? Combine that hot air with a few cedar planks, a well-placed towel or two and some hot rocks and you’ve got a Swedish version of heaven just a few feet from the home of your private cloud. Pardon me while I pour a little more water on the rocks.
I personally applaud this burst of creative genius by our friends at Cyrus One. Anybody can build data centers bigger or run them on anything but coal, natural gas, or nuclear power, but making them more fun—that’s what we call unexplored territory, sports fans. This is literally Frost’s “road less travelled” and I say Bravo. I know that I am on-board, and the next data center I visit, I’m bringing my bike shorts with me.