Mountain data center

    In our time, the construction of data centers has become a very ordinary event. Naturally, that impressive and ever-increasing number of new structures of this kind over the past decade has naturally led. Typical designs of industrial buildings, completely faceless, both inside and out, push into the background the important role they play in the modern world. The data center, which will be discussed later, is rather an exception to the rule. You should not even look for a more unusual IT infrastructure. There are a number of amazing reasons for this. Located deep underground, in the bowels of the Swiss Alps mountains, Fort Knox is a data center that owes its creation to SIAG. The project was the result of an understanding by the company management of those simple things that information is a value akin to gold. Even the name of the IT complex does not coincide with the well-known military base in Kentucky, USA, which in turn is one of the most famous gold storages in the world. Let’s take a closer look at how carefully the “mountain spirit” protects its treasures.


    As you know, the most valuable thing in this world is time, immediately followed by information. Unfortunately, mankind cannot save time, which can not be said about the heaps of all kinds of data. The natural question that people face is the physical security of valuable information. Switzerland has always been famous for its loyalty to the secrets and secrets of the people who entrusted them to this "land".

    The former command bunker of the Swiss leadership, designed for the event of an atomic war, has become an excellent refuge for the servers of this modern data center. Located near the Gstaat ski resort, it has accommodated most of the infrastructure of a very extensive IT complex. The former military facility, with an area of ​​130 thousand square meters, has become an ideal candidate for the role of the data center for a number of reasons. Being actually in the very heart of Europe, in a region with a highly developed IT sector, the servers themselves are “hidden” in an isolated and inaccessible place. This state of affairs made it possible for SIAG employees to organize a highly effective security system, akin to the army.

    Since server rooms are located under a meter-long layer of reinforcement and concrete, which in turn covers tens of meters of rock, such a construction of a structure can withstand not only a direct hit by an airplane captured by terrorists, but also a tactical nuclear strike. Concomitant with the shock wave, neutron radiation also will not pass through such protection. And it’s hardly worth the fear of such “adventures” in a politically correct, neutral Switzerland, which in itself can be called another level of security. In general, the data center is reliably insured against any upheavals raging on the surface, both technogenic and natural. Outbreaks in the sun, tornadoes, tsunamis that can become an increased danger factor will in no way harm even the most sensitive equipment of the data center.

    Path of becoming

    The need to create an over-secure repository is not ripe today, but to come to its implementation in a modern format was not so simple, and as a result, the process of constructing this design took a lot of time. At first there was a “word”, the creation of a concept for the implementation of a project of such an unusual data center began back in 1992. In the same year, the founders of the SIAG company and looked after the bunker they actually liked. After selecting the site, for three long years the project expected a successful conclusion of negotiations with the military, which were to legally transfer the military facility to private ownership. Only in 1995, the reconstruction of the complex, conserved by the army, into an IT node began, thereby marking the beginning of the practical implementation of the Swiss Fort Knox project. A year after the start of work, the data center began to receive its first customers. The year 2001 was truly landmark for the entire IT project. It was this year that completely duplicating the existing data center capacities were put into operation. As a result, even the name of the data center has undergone changes. From that moment, the data center located in the mountain became known as Swiss Fort Knox I, respectively, the duplicating data center was called Swiss Fort Knox II. Throughout all these years that the IT complex has existed, non-stop modernization and improvement of ways to protect data and ways to safely receive company customers have access to them, both physically and in hardware, has been ongoing. A certain culmination of this process was the introduction of a new highly protected, but at the same time open to free pre-order by everyone,

    Technical Compound

    Even after the first acquaintance with the structure of the Swiss Fort Knox, it becomes obvious that only a small part of it can be attributed to the classical data center, and the range of services provided by SIAG based on this masterpiece of engineering is much wider than you might expect.

    The exact technical characteristics of the IT complex are not particularly advertised, and this naturally has logic, because the uncontrolled distribution of such information can jeopardize the security of the data center itself. It is well known that the server capacities of this data center are duplicated via an optical fiber connection in a nearby data center, which is called Swiss Fort Knox II, and this in turn provides an additional level of security for information posted by customers. The area of ​​the entire complex of the data center is also known, it is 130 thousand square meters. In addition to the server rooms and the technical rooms serving them, the data center also includes a satellite communications station, helipad, mini-hotel for visitors and even a personal airport through which foreigners can arrive, because there is a full-fledged customs checkpoint. Of particular note is the unique cooling system of the data center, its specificity lies in the fact that ice is used for thermal control in the room, coming from a nearby glacier. Since the water temperature in mountain streams rarely rises above + 6 C, it is ideal for removing excess heat produced by server racks.

    Separate rooms of the former bunker are specially reserved for storing information in the most amazing forms. The way of this storage is akin to an ordinary bank safe, because the information carriers here are, like the solid-state drives that are still familiar to us: hard drives, compact discs and film media: magnetic diskettes, tape bins. Among the unique data carriers on which up-to-date information is posted here you can also find carefully guarded archaic punch cards, but this is not the most wonderful medium presented in the dungeons of a mountain data center. Biological material, living, and not only people, as well as their pets: stem cells, DNA samples, frozen reproductive cells - these are perhaps the most exotic data carriers that can be placed in a data center.

    Services and customer base

    The very unusual structure and the list of services of the data center hints that the customers located in it are not quite ordinary. Data center services are relevant, first of all, for wealthy people, people who value the service and their data at times more than money, because the prices for the services provided here are orders of magnitude higher than in the usual data centers. But not only the cost, but also the range of services provided can excite the consciousness of an ordinary hosting user. For example, if there is a need to physically obtain your data, the client can use the helicopter delivery service for physical media, the hourly fee for the aircraft will be $ 5950 for the client, and the service will cover the whole of Europe. The very departure of an employee of the company to your office for any work will cost no less than $ 1512.
    And here, renting, say, a banal backup service with 100 gigabytes of disk space included there will cost the customer monthly $ 302.

    With the full implementation of DNA Bank service by SIAG in 2010, the data center began to accept for storage, in addition to digital data, also real genetic material. Customers who wish to retain a piece of themselves in this service receive an agreed disk space in the data center for storing their digitized personal data, and a physical place to store a sealed flask with DNA samples. The cost of this service is $ 299 for 1 gigabyte of server space, and $ 399 for the ability to place 1 gigabyte of your DNA in Swiss Fort Knox in a 1 gigabyte of space. It is worth noting that the cost of this service is one-time, and long-term storage of data will no longer require additional costs from you.

    Project Planets

    As part of the Planets IT project (Preservation and Long-term Access through Networked Services), the Time Capsule program was launched. The essence of the program is to systematize and preserve endangered digital data reading formats. It’s not even worth mentioning how critical this can become in our actively developing world, where new ones are born every day and old formats gradually disappear into oblivion. And it was not surprising that for such an honorable mission, a place was chosen where a metal box filled with heterogeneous data carriers will be located, ranging from flash drives, microfilms, and to paper carriers, namely in the dungeons of the Swiss Fort Knox. Each data object is stored both in the original format and in the “transformed”, encrypted form. Also, in addition to the now rare reading formats, objects of the software accompanying them are stored on the media: operating systems, file systems, encoding methods. All these data are naturally duplicated at the server facilities of the data center, and are available for authorized users through the global Internet.

    Having opened the curtain of such an extraordinary data center, it becomes clear that finance is just a tool that stands in the service of higher human concepts. People are willing to pay for the preservation of their history, they are ready to invest huge resources in the security of personal data. Swiss Fort Knox is more than just a high-tech IT node on a map of Europe, it has given many customers a good night's sleep, a sense of security for the most precious thing they have. For some, he became another step on the path to the eternal landmark of mankind - immortality. Although genetic material does not make it possible to restore personality, science does not stand still. Until that moment, as soon as scientists can make a full transplant of a personality, all your data for body regeneration will be carefully guarded,

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