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Let's make data centers cool

Recently, I was speaking to a colleague from the mainstream press – someone who is just getting to know the data center industry – and she was surprised at just how obscure this field is, considering that it underpins global economies and is getting increasingly critical to daily life.

And she’s right – we are talking about smart cities, smart cars and smart homes, but not many people understand what a data center is, or realize that they are using it as they check their emails or watch a video.

bahnhof pionen

Bahnhof, Pionen, Sweden

Source: Bahnhof

Come in, Mr Bond… 

The industry has an image problem. Maybe using multi-colored racks and building viewing galleries in your data center is actually a great idea. Or designing a facility that can be best described as a James Bond villain lair – like one of my personal favorites, the Bahnhof bunker in Pionen, Sweden (pictured).

Google recently commissioned four artists to get creative and paint giant murals on the walls of its data centers in the US, Belgium and Ireland (below). Definitely a step in the right direction.

TV shows (do we still call them TV shows when they are produced by Netflix or Amazon?) are also helping raise awareness: Mr. Robot, House of Cards and Silicon Valley have all recently sent their characters into data centers, and just two out of three are about technology.

google data center mural project oklahoma jenny odell 6

Google mural, Oklahoma 

Source: Google

Maybe data centers will get cool in the immediate future. Just look at personal computers – two decades ago, these were the symbols of the office worker and the businessman, the direct opposite of cool. Today, personal computers have shaken off the heritage of loud beige boxes that used to live beneath your desk, and it’s almost impossible to be cool without a smartphone.

Slo-mo and dubstep

We’ve just published a promotional video clip from G-Core, a company that maintains servers for the most hardcore members of the Eastern European gaming community .

The video features slo-mo and dubstep, long panning shots of generators, and solar flares bouncing off the racks. There are CGI warships and tanks, exploding in glorious HD. This clip looks at the server farm as the pinnacle of civil engineering, and its staff as the heroes of the digital age.

We need more of this. And here at DCD, we promise to do our part.

This article appeared in the May/June issue of DatacenterDynamics magazine


Readers' comments (1)

  • Max, I must disagree with your general premise. Most data center owners and operators do not wish the public to know what the business is that's running inside that unmarked and obscure commercial-looking building. (If indeed the building is visible at all.) Most owner/operators do not want anyone unless specifically authorized to be there to set foot in the data center. This is a matter of security. Public awareness/understanding of data centers, in general, clashes culturally with the mission-critical nature of the industry.

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