DHS Data Center Planned in Western U.S.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is planning a second major disaster recovery data center, and is focusing its search on Texas and the Western United States to guard against a potential blackout affecting the East Coast, according to a report in Government Computer News.

DHS has asked contractors to propose locations for the “cross-agency” data center, which would serve as a central backup site to coordinate disaster recovery efforts across the many agencies that report to Homeland Security. The primary existing DHS data center is at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The second data center will be designed to continuously synchronize with the Stennis center, so it mirrors the data in both sites, allowing the second site to seamlessly take over from the Mississippi facility in the event of a power outage or other disaster.

GCN reports that power reliability is playing a significant role in the site location process for the DHS data center, as the agency wants to insulate the facility from the possibility that a power failure could affect the East Coast. The Eastern Interconnect includes eight smaller regional power grids, raising the prospect of a “cascading failure” in which problems on one grid could spill over into other systems, as was the case in the August 2003 blackout.

DHS is reportedly focusing on a site search in for its second data center in either the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) or the Western Systems Coordinating Council (Western Interconnect). With its independent grid, Texas has been a major beneficiary of the jitters about grid stability, with both Austin and San Antonio gaining multiple major projects.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.