Before launching heatload.co.uk as the UK’s largest provider of heat load and test equipment in the data center market, I was the lead IT consultant during the development of new data centers for several major FTSE 100 companies. At this time I was asked by a well-known rack and secure room manufacturer to carry out due diligence at a site on their behalf - in Bermuda no less. At the time my team were based in the USA, with staff from Aviva carrying out factory visits as part of the procurement cycle for racks, power strips and monitoring for a new data center build project.
The first challenge was to get the team to Bermuda. This involved leaving our Aviva colleague in Cincinnati airport. This was the first time he had been outside the UK and probably Norfolk! We felt slightly bad for him but the lure of Bermuda for a long weekend was stronger. I just had to make the jump across the Atlantic before hooking up with my team. The client could not see us on the first day, so we were left little choice but to hit the beaches and bars. Only to discover it was Spring Break! Every beach, bar and club was full of college girls. The hardship of being an IT consultant.
The long weekend
The following day we did a tour of the island’s power generation capability. The main plant used ageing generator sets that looked like they had seen better days. On the other side of the island was a brand new power plant that burnt rubbish to produce electricity. Due to the high investment cost of the plant nobody purchased power from it because the cost of electricity was too high! Mad. We then visited the site - a disused USAF base. Were we converting a derelict hangar? Or a maintenance shed? Or a bunker? No. The building of choice for conversion into a data center was the former airmen’s social club. Of all the buildings on the site this was the worst in terms of layout and conversion options. We set about carrying out the survey.
The air force must have left in a hurry. There were empty bottles everywhere. One room was obviously where the ‘ladies’ dressed and did their makeup. It included the obligatory condom machine. Perhaps this wasn’t just a watering hole for the air force personnel? Our suspicions were confirmed when we found a pole in the corner of the dance floor. The suggestion was that the main dance floor could be used to locate the data hall, as this was the largest space in the building. While measuring the room we came across the pin from a hand grenade in the middle of the dance floor. My immediate thought was ‘where was the other half’! Luckily it was nowhere to be seen.
It became apparent while checking out the grounds for suitable locations for the chillers, generators and other external plant that nowhere was suitable. The grounds were fairly overgrown with cedar trees, protected in Bermuda. It was unlikely we could chop them down to clear the site. The kitchens, destined to become plant rooms, were coated in a thick layer of cooking fat, caked with years of dust. Just cleaning the years of decay would be a challenge.
We completed our survey, returned to the UK and submitted our report. Did the site ever get developed? I doubt it. But we had fun in the sun for a few days.
Dave Wolfenden is the director and owner of HeatLoad (formerly known as Mafi Mushkila).